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What does "sexual revolution" mean? When, how, and why did it begin? What, if anything, did it change? And what hope do we have that its ideals of equality and pleasure can be realized? From Susan Sontag's "Pornographic Imagination" to Al Goldstein's notorious review of Deep Throat, Sexual Revolution explores the cultural, economic, political, and moral consequences of new ways of sexual thinking and behaving — reclaiming the female orgasm and challenging the double standard; celebrating open marriage and ...
What does "sexual revolution" mean? When, how, and why did it begin? What, if anything, did it change? And what hope do we have that its ideals of equality and pleasure can be realized? From Susan Sontag's "Pornographic Imagination" to Al Goldstein's notorious review of Deep Throat, Sexual Revolution explores the cultural, economic, political, and moral consequences of new ways of sexual thinking and behaving — reclaiming the female orgasm and challenging the double standard; celebrating open marriage and homosexuality; and defying taboo and censorship. With Anne Koedt's classic "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" and Norman Mailer's "The Homosexual Villain;" Helen Gurley Brown to Lenny Bruce — to name a few — this book features the voices of those who registered and provoked popular consciousness and transformed how we think about sex. Today, Dr. Phil talks about oral sex among grade-schoolers and porn star Jenna Jameson gets a six-figure advance for her memoirs. Something has changed, but Sexual Revolution reminds us that our sexuality remains a bitterly contested battleground. This collection includes selections by Erica Jong, Lawrence Lipton, Masters and Johnson, Betty Dodson, Gayle Rubin, Timothy Leary, Henry Miller, Huey Newton, Sigmund Freud, Simone de Beauvoir, and many others.
This is a solid anthology of writing that was important to, about, or produced during the sexual revolution beginning in the late 1960s. This was such a varied movement comprising a lot of "strains" of theory, practice, and activism, and the book does a good job of exploring a large number of them. It mainly presents material and context, allowing you to draw your own conclusions.
If you come to it with some background in the women's lib/second wave feminism or the sexual revolution, you will probably find the first few chapters a little too familiar and repetitive on the context and social conditions leading up to the revolution -- but that's a good thing for someone without much prior knowledge. I minored in gender studies in college, and the book still had a lot to add to my "education"
For me, the most interesting sections covered some of the more "extreme" or controversial ideas: open marriage, pornography, radical lesbianism, and S/M. While college courses would cover these topics, the book provides material that was decidedly not part of my curricula, because much of the material was defensive, or at least explanatory of the "pro" side, while gender studies classes focused more on the anti-porn movement and mainstream feminism.
The one thing I find strange is that, while the scientific/sexology chapter is at the beginning, the philosophical/theory chapter is at the end. Perhaps putting the "heavy stuff" up front would be intimidate some readers, but given that this is not something the average person -- without at least a fairly strong interest in the material -- would be likely to purchase, it seems like that should have been frontloaded to help flesh out the context before getting to the more activist material. I would also point out that there are a few authors whose absence I question (esp. Brownmiller, Millet, and Dworkin), but as in any anthology, there is always material that must be left behind, and perhaps the likely reader of this book would already know them, anyway.
Bottom line: if you know something about feminism, you will probably find this pushes the borders of your understanding in a very good way. If you don't, you should probably start with something a little more mainstream.