Sex and Society

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Over the course of three volumes and 250 articles and with help from some 80 contributors, this resource explores and explains sexual behavior as well as health and social/cultural attitudes toward sex and sex-related topics. Entries have been formed around six broad topical areas, including human anatomy and physiology; sexual behaviors, practices, disorders, and diseases; health, education, and medicine; relationships; legal issues; and social and cultural perspectives. The signed articles are neutral in tone, providing both historical context and current information. Ranging in length from one page to several pages, the articles cover a spectrum of subjects, including "alcohol and sex," "fashion," "fatherhood training," "matriarchy," "nymphomania," "pansexuality," "sex worker," and "transsexualism." Attractive and colorful photos are sprinkled throughout. BOTTOM LINE Libraries already owning Macmillan's more academic four-volume Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender (2007) may find they do not need to purchase this set. Otherwise, it is a solid addition to high school, public, college, and health libraries. It will also prove helpful in the school nurse's office.—Lura Sanborn, St. Paul's Sch. Lib., NH
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This resource contains more than 250 entries under the general areas of human anatomy and physiology, sexual behaviors, health, relationships, legal issues, and social perspectives. While the set is alphabetically arranged, thematic groupings are listed in color-blocked charts at the beginning of volume one. Under the "Health, Education, and Medicine" heading, for example, are entries on condoms, plastic surgery, hygiene, and abstinence. "Legal Issues" lists adoption, Internet predators, illegitimacy, and other topics. The largest thematic grouping, "Social and Cultural Perspectives," includes female genital mutilation, beauty pageants, interracial relationships, homophobia, and domestic violence. Teens needing personal information on gender identity, casual sex, parties, and dirty jokes will find objective treatments. The contributors maintain an accessible and consistent tone throughout. Charted material includes the percentage of births outside of marriage worldwide, legal ages of consent in the United States, divorce rates worldwide, and more. Most entries range from two to four pages, although topics containing historical views or clinical information are longer. Introductory paragraphs in large font, bold subheadings, color photographs on nearly every page, and colorful fact boxes make the set appealing for browsing. Each volume contains a glossary and index, and the last volume has thematic and comprehensive indexes. Invaluable.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Children's Literature - RevaBeth Russell
This three-volume encyclopedia set about sex and social issues is well researched and as complete as anyone would want or need. The alphabetized volumes are also divided into six color-coded topic sections: anatomy and physiology; sexual behavior, practice, disorder, and diseases; health, education, and medicines; relationships; legal issues; and social and cultural perspectives. Examining the human anatomy and physiology articles (red), there are topics such as menopause, masculinity, heredity, reproduction, fertility, and more. Every article in the set starts with a boldface brief synopsis of what the article will cover. Each featured subject covers the many facets of it. There is often an interesting sidebar an illustration or photo. For instance, in the fertility article both male and female fertility, as well as, infertility are explained. Among other facts, one learns that low zinc levels are believed to have an effect and hinder sperm production. Another sidebar addresses fertility and aging. Helpful information is here for those seeking it. Each entry has a "see also" box with related articles in the encyclopedia. The theme sexual behaviors, practice, disorder and disease offers seventy articles. Diseases from AIDS, Chlamydia, and genital warts to trichomoniasis are explained. The AIDS/HIV article has connection to articles with abstinence, disease, gay culture, health care, and cultural perspective. The "casual sex" article lists links to alcohol and sex, attraction, contraception, dancing, dating, and sex drive. Anyone reading one article can cross-reference and learn even more. Each article has the topic's history explained. The chastity article includes examples of chastity in history, society, religion, and marriage. The health education and medicine portion is an expansive unit. The student researcher preparing a paper about sex education would find information on abstinence, advice and counseling, contraception, IUDs, as well as, value education—all without a raised eyebrow or the sound of one's father's voice squeaking or mother blushing. The encyclopedia deftly and thoroughly provides the facts without the emotional baggage. Readers learn that even with professional dressers, it may take more than an hour for a geisha to dress. The obi (bows) for a geisha is worn in the front, but prostitutes wear their obi in the back. They discover gag rules, by which certain issues that society opposes cannot be talked about. Reading about Mexico City's gag policy is an example of the convolutions of society and government over abortion. A great deal of misunderstanding of people who are not heterosexual might be cleared up by reading the articles contained in this encyclopedia. Misconceptions have always abounded when it relates to sex and society, past and present. A reader can learn about Aristotle's misogyny when he is quoted, "Women are defective by nature." There are a few errors relating to certain religions, but overall, this encyclopedia set is a wonderful resource. A reference to males having one X shaped chromosome and one Y shaped sex chromosome could perpetuate misconceptions, but the statement is later corrected. There is an expansive glossary and a detailed index as well as a comprehensive "further resources" section. Local school districts or libraries will need to determine whether this set will well serve their populations. Because of its expansive coverage, some parents might be uncomfortable with their youth having this much factual information available. Reviewer: RevaBeth Russell
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761479062
  • Publisher: Cavendish, Marshall Corporation
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009

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