Sexidemic: A Cultural History of Sex in America

Sexidemic: A Cultural History of Sex in America

by Lawrence R. Samuel
     
 

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Sexidemic is the first real cultural history of sexuality in the United States since the end of World War II. For a people who supposedly love sex, the author argues, Americans have had no shortage of problems with it. Since the end of World War II, in fact, we’ve had a contentious relationship with sexuality, the subject a source of considerable tension and

Overview

Sexidemic is the first real cultural history of sexuality in the United States since the end of World War II. For a people who supposedly love sex, the author argues, Americans have had no shortage of problems with it. Since the end of World War II, in fact, we’ve had a contentious relationship with sexuality, the subject a source of considerable tension and controversy on both an individual and societal level. Rather than being a simple pleasure of life, something to be enjoyed, sex has served as a challenging and disruptive force in many Americans’ everyday lives for the last two-thirds of a century. Our love affair with sex has thus been a rocky one, filled with bumps in the road that have caused major instability across our cultural landscape. Our individualistic, competitive, consumerist, and anxious national character is both reflected in and reinforced by this “sexidemic,” something few have recognized or perhaps want to admit.

By charting the cultural trajectory of sex in America since the end of World War II, Sexidemic reveals how the nation’s continual woes with sexuality helped make us an anxious, insecure people. The sex lives of many, perhaps most Americans have been in a perpetual state of crisis, a constant source of concern. We’ve fretted over every dimension of it, with problems in both quality and quantity. With this unhealthy view of sexuality, it was not surprising that we felt we needed a variety of potions and gadgets to make it happen or be pleasurable. In tracing the cultural trajectory of sex in our society, Samuel illustrates our bipolar approach to sexuality: low libido and sex addiction emerged as common disorders, and sex scandal after sex scandal has made headlines, especially over the last couple of years. Only money has surpassed sex as a source of stress for Americans; indeed, sex has come to be seen and treated as a commodity.

In this timely work, the author traces the role sex plays in our society, how it shapes us and the world around us, and how we got where we are today in our views, treatment, and practice of sex and sexuality in our everyday lives.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Samuel (founder, Culture Planning LLC, a resource offering cultural insights to Fortune 500 companies) writes what is described as the "first real cultural history of the sexuality in the United States since the end of World War II." As promised, the history begins in the 1940s, quickly moving forward to include such important icons in American sex history as Dr. Alfred Kinsey, Hugh Hefner, and William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. From there, Samuel chronologically documents American sexual behavior into the first decade of 21st century. Along the way topics discussed include sex education, sex in popular media, changing sexual behaviors, pornography, the AIDS crisis, sex therapy, homosexuality, and sex in politics, capturing the shifting sexual attitudes of America. Unfortunately, the work lacks a coherent overall thesis or any statement of philosophical criteria used to evaluate the bibliographic sources. VERDICT Samuel's sex history is for the most part from popular media sources; it lacks the depth and historical analysis that one would expect from a cultural history. Still, it is recommended to readers who are new to the subject and looking for a summary of significant events surrounding American sexuality since World War II.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442220416
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
02/07/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
248
File size:
422 KB

What People are saying about this

Elaine Tyler May
In this intriguing exploration of Americans' love/hate relationship with sex, Lawrence Samuel considers why, after decades of obsession and revolution, we remain sexually anxious and distressed. A lively read on a subject that interests everyone.
Simon Hall
Sexidemic offers a whirlwind tour of the complex and often-fraught relationship between Americans and sex during the past half-century. The story, which takes us from the Kinsey Report to Queer as Folk, is revealing and raises a number of provocative and important questions.

Meet the Author

Lawrence R. Samuel is the founder of Culture Planning LLC, a Miami- and New York-based resource offering cultural insights to Fortune 500 companies and their ad agencies. He is the author of a number of books, including Freud on Madison Avenue: Motivation Research and Subliminal Advertising in America, The American Dream: A Cultural History, and Shrink: A Cultural History of Psychoanalysis in America.

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