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Michael DirdaDuring the 17th and 18th centuries in England, people's attitudes toward sexual behavior…changed dramatically. To a large degree, this revolution pivoted on the dynamic between private actions and public, civic and religious ideals. How much, or in what way, should society police the erotic life of individuals? Was adultery a crime? Were prostitutes the devil's snare, or were they the pathetic victims of male callousness and exploitation? Should both sexes be held to the same moral standards? And exactly what standards should those be? In his anecdote-rich, crisply written and impressively well-researched The Origins of Sex, Oxford historian Faramerz Dabhoiwala tracks the answers to questions like these.
—The Washington Post