Moral Panics, Sex Panics: Fear and the Fight over Sexual Rights

Hardcover (Print)
Not Available on


Finalist for 2010 LGBT Anthology Award from the Lambda Literary Awards

Unwed teen mothers, abortion, masturbation, pornography, gay marriage, sex trafficking, homosexuality, and HIV are just a few in a long line of issues that have erupted into panics. These sexual panics spark moral crusades and campaigns, defining and shaping how we think about sexual and reproductive rights. The essays in Moral Panics, Sex Panics focus on case studies ranging from sex education to AIDS to race and the "down low," to illustrate how sexuality is at the heart of many political controversies. The contributors also reveal how moral and sexual panics have become a mainstay of certain kinds of conservative efforts to win elections and gain power in moral, social, and political arenas. Moral Panics, Sex Panics provides new and important insights into the role that key moral panics have played in social processes, arguing forcefully against the political abuse of sex panics and for the need to defend full sexual and reproductive rights.

Contributors: Cathy J. Cohen, Diane DiMauro, Gary W. Dowsett, Janice M. Irvine, Carole Joffe, and Saskia Eleonora Wieringa.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a very important book. If you want to understand the state of sexuality politics in this country—and have a hope of reversing moral panics and public lies—you need to read this book!"

-Pepper Schwartz,author of Prime: Adventures and Advice about Sex, Love and the Sensual Years

"Abortion, AIDS, non marital sex, homosexuality, pornography, contraception, sexual rights, and the rest have posed persistent threats and challenges across the world for some time. ‘Sex’ stands as a major political and moral symbol that marks boundaries and shapes change in cultures.Here an outstanding group of social scientists give a firm focus to the culture wars and moral panics that split cultures and speak to persistent and deep divides round the world. The essays in this timely volume provide critical insights to the battle lines that must be overcome for a new world to flourish."

-Ken Plummer,author of Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues

"The authors here provide thorough accounts of contemporary social and sexual issues that dominate social consciousness, media and politics . . . the book offers a modern synopsis of how sex and sexuality continue to be embedded in political, educational and social debates."-Lindsay Sprague,Social Anthropology

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814737224
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Intersections Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert Herdt is Professor and Founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University and author of Guardians of the Flutes, Third Sex, Third Gender, and Secrecy and Cultural Reality.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Moral Panics, Sexual Rights, and Cultural Anger
Gilbert Herdt
2. The Religious Right and the Reshaping of Sexuality: Reproductive Rights and Sexuality Education During the Bush Years
Diane DiMauro & Carole Joffe
3. Black Sexuality, Indigenous Moral Panics, and Respectability: From Bill Cosby to the Down Low
Cathy J. Cohen
4. The “Gay Plague” Revisited: AIDS and its Enduring Moral Panic
Gary W. Dowsett
5. Gay Marriage: The Panic and the Right
Gilbert Herdt
6. Postcolonial Amnesia: Sexual Moral Panics, Memory and Imperial Power
Saskia Eleonora Wieringa
7. Transient Feelings: Sex Panics and the Politics of Emotions
Janice M. Irvine

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)