Sexuality
Resources

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalIt’s Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshZen Sex

Related Topics
Regulating SexReview - Regulating Sex
The Politics of Intimacy and Identity
by Elizabeth Bernstein and Laurie Schaffner (Editors)
Routledge, 2004
Review by Aagje Ieven, M.A.
Jan 29th 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 4)

Regulating Sex collects fourteen essays on the subject of how states regulate their citizens' sexual conduct. It brings together academics from various disciplines (predominantly sociology, but also criminology, law, genderstudies and American studies) and nationalities, providing for a diversity of perspectives on the subject.

Despite this diversity of viewpoints and research methods, there is a common theme which runs throughout the book. Central to this theme is the observation that liberal states presuppose sexuality: they deem it a 'natural' thing and therefore relegate it to the presocial or private domain. Liberalism considers sex as neither a political subject, nor a public activity. The main line of argument in Regulating Sex, however,is that states consider sex as natural only when it is practiced in private, within the context of a heterosexual monogamous relationship between adults. It is observed that sexual expressions transgressing these implicit norms are controlled, suppressed or even criminalized. The various essays prove this normativity to be socially constructed through a complex interplay between family, social, criminal and other laws, on the one hand, and public discourses, institutions and social actors, on the other. Moreover, statistic data on the effects of the laws mentioned, are shown to display gendered, heterosexist and racialized outcomes.

Contrary to liberalism's implicit sexual normativity then, the essays in Regulating Sex embody the notion that sex is political and take it up as an important subject of public debate, thereby challenging the traditional private/public divide. Building on feminist and queer theory, they show the false neutrality of different regulations of sexuality. The combination of  these varied subjects into one volume does not only provide for a very strong argument for sexual freedom, but also offers new perspectives on debates as varied as same-sex partnership and parenthood, transgender rights, human trafficking, sex work, sex tourism, adolescent sexuality and child abuse.

Part One combines chapters by Mary Bernstein, William Rountree, Paisley Currah and Shannon Minter on regulations concerning same-sex intimacy and transgender identity. These authors point to the fact that liberal freedom and equality are not available for those who do not conform to the binary gender system and explore the different political, legal and social strategies that can be adopted for achieving more justice in this respect.

The ambivalent attitude of states concerning sexual commerce is questioned in Part Two. Wendy Chapkis, Laura Ma Agustín, Julia O'Connell Davidson, Jacqueline Sánchez Taylor and co-editor Elizabeth Bernstein leave aside the question of the political significance of prostitution and of whether and how it should be discouraged. Instead they focus on the ways market forces and material inequalities on both local and global levels influence the social meanings attached to the trading of sex for material goods. These authors make clear that regulations in these areas are just as often about controlling borders (of a wealthy nation, of a city's scarce public space or of the nuclear family) as it is about sex.

The policing of borders plays an even more important role in Part Three, in which Kjersti Ericsson, Kerwin Kaye, Penelope Saunders and co-editor Laurie Schaffner explore the ways in which states constitute the sexual boundaries of childhood. Without an exception, they find that  the numerous contemporary studies in childhood sociology and anthropology as well as most children's rights advocates have largely ignored childhood sexuality. Children's exposure to sexuality is still considered a danger to society, but an important shift has occurred in opinions about children who have had  sexual contacts (whether or not these were wanted, unwanted or given in return for 'favors'). While such children were previously considered 'wild', abnormal, dangerous or even criminal, they have now gained the status of 'victims' in the public debate. Even though this is a change for the better, the authors argue that this novel status attaches too much moral worth to the notion of childhood innocence, a notion, moreover, which is highly gendered.

The fourth and final part of Regulating Sex deals with possible methods of addressing sex as the complex social-political issue that it is and makes suggestions for the future. In this part, Gert Hekma, Steven Seidman, Janet R. Jakobsen and Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy search for meaningful strategies to attain sexual justice and freedom beyond the limitations of liberal conceptions of tolerance and privacy. A healthy amount of resistance against assimilation into the liberal paradigm and a combination of legislative campaigning, litigation and cultural movements are proposed as essential ingredients for achieving theultimate goal of sexual justice.

 This collection of political essays on sex,is as interesting as it is remarkable. It shows how the regulation of sex is much more diverse, much stronger and much more heteronormative and gendered than most citizens suspect. It also shows how sex can have more diverse and meaningful outlets than most states endorse, for more diverse groups of people. And finally, it points out several ways in which citizens can combine forces to further the struggle for more sexual freedom and justice.

Despite this last remark, Regulating Sex, as predicted in the editors' introduction, is rather a book which raises "probing questions about regulations of intimate life" than one which formulates concrete models of political action. It is a book which puts forward a great number of interesting questions concerning what turns out to be one and the same problem, but which does not provide for coördinated answers or solutions. This is, of course, inherent to its framework. Had the editors chosen for a more integrative approach, instead of this mosaďc of free-standing articles, perhaps the main arguments would have come across more clearly. It might even have been possible to point more firmly in the direction of potentially successfull strategies of social change, since a number of the essays do overlap in their general recommendations.

However, even if this mosaic structure could be called a flaw, it is at the same time the book's main strength, because where conclusions converge and suggestions for further strategies overlap between essays written independently by authors with such diverse viewpoints and research methods, this only makes for a  stronger argument. Moreover, the editors' introduction does a great job at compensating for the fragmentary composition by explaining the unity of the work and stressing the most important points of convergence.

Regulating Sex is therefore much more than the sum of its components and a refreshing must-read for scholars in the field.

 

© 2006 Aagie Ieven

 

 

Aagje Ieven received a Bachelor's Degree in Medical Science and a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the University of Leuven, Belgium. She is currently working there as a teaching assistant in the field of legal and political philosophy and is in the process of obtaining a PhD.


Share

Welcome to MHN's unique book review site Metapsychology. We feature over 7700 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than thirty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Can't remember our URL? Access our reviews directly via 'metapsychology.net'


Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from Amazon.com for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your Amazon.com purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!


Join our e-mail list!: Metapsychology New Review Announcements: Sent out monthly, these announcements list our recent reviews. To subscribe, click here.

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? Currently, we especially need thoughtful reviewers for books in fiction, self-help and popular psychology. To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716