Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction

Overview


Is our sexuality determined primarily by our genes? Or is it shaped by the social norms and expectations we happen to be born into. This Very Short Introduction provides an accessible, thoughtful and thought-provoking introduction to major debates around sexuality in the modern world, highlighting the social and political aspects of sexuality. It critically explores different ways of defining and thinking about sexuality and shows that many of our assumptions about what is "natural" in the sexual domain have, in...
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Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction

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Overview


Is our sexuality determined primarily by our genes? Or is it shaped by the social norms and expectations we happen to be born into. This Very Short Introduction provides an accessible, thoughtful and thought-provoking introduction to major debates around sexuality in the modern world, highlighting the social and political aspects of sexuality. It critically explores different ways of defining and thinking about sexuality and shows that many of our assumptions about what is "natural" in the sexual domain have, in reality, varied greatly in different historical or cultural contexts. The volume also examines ways in which governments have tried to regulate citizens' sexualities in the past-through policies and laws concerning public health, HIV/Aids, prostitution, and sex education-paying special attention to the particular zeal with which women's sexuality has been policed. The volume concludes by discussing political activism around sexuality more widely, focusing on the ways in which feminists, lesbians and gay men, as well as religious fundamentalists have transformed our ways of thinking about sexuality in the past few decades.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199298020
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/23/2008
  • Series: Very Short Introductions Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 830,205
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Véronique Mottier is Fellow and Director of Studies in Social and Political Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge and Professor of Sociology at the University of Lausanne. Her previous books include Politics of Sexuality: Identity, Gender, Citizenship, co-edited with Terrell Carver.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Kama Sutra it ain't

    The fascination, some would argue the obsession, with sex and gender has come to be (together with race and class) one of the cornerstones of modern humanistic scholarship. The view of sexuality that has come to dominate the modern academic discourse is largely based on the idea of sexuality as a particular cultural construct, much like a religious ritual or a political system. In that regard the study of sexuality is reduced to the study of ideas about sexuality, mostly through the prism of literary and philosophical writings throughout the history. Of course, this line of inquiry is highly restricted: it places premium on societies and cultures that left behind a lot of textual evidence, which probably skews the impression about what sexual norms were like throughout history. This book plays wholeheartedly into that narrative about sexuality. It subscribes wholeheartedly into the whole view of history of sexuality as mostly care-free, except for that long backward interlude of oppressive Christian attitudes. This becomes particularly glaring when in attempt to prove its points it sacrifices historical continuity and jumps back and forth through writings of Augustine, Calvin, Luther and Origen without necessarily pointing out that they were separated by more than a thousand years.

    Most of the philosophical outlook of this book can be traced to Michel Faoucolt and his "History of Sexuality." Having one particular ideological outlook feature so prominently hardly makes this into a book with a broad outlook or utility.

    The book repeats and reemphasizes the supposed distinction between "sex" and "gender." This is really a distinction without difference. Nowadays it only has much currency in academic circles, and predominantly in humanities.

    The biological basis of sexuality receives the worst treatment, its main points barely being mentioned in a single sentence. On the other hand the criticism of the biological model receives many subsequent paragraphs. This is patently absurd: sex is the biological process par excellence, and to neglect the biological basis of sex is like neglecting the physical basis of gravity. Yes, you can still talk a lot about how people have conceptualized it over the millennia, but this would not do justice to the subject.

    Most of the book is focused on the politics of sexuality from the middle of the nineteenth century until the present. Some of the most arcane and idiosyncratic political theories are described and discussed, oftentimes in terms of academic jargon straight out of a graduate seminar in humanities. The book is as exciting to read as watching an old lady clip her toenails. I can't imagine that a book on the most fun topic imaginable can be as dry and boring. If you are into the whole postmodern-deconstruction-critiques-analysis stuff, this might be the book for you. Otherwise, save a few books and instead of buying this book and go out with a group of friends to a bar and trade stories. You'll certainly learn more about sex that way.

    One good thing about this book is the quality of writing. Material for the most part is presented in a clear and readable way, at the high level that one has come to expect from similar books in the "very short introduction" series.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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