email page print pageAll 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 SpeechBeyond 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 and the Politics of 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 DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital 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 NormalItís 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 SexRelax, It's Just 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, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, 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 PleasureTestosterone RexThe 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 State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe 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 HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What 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 FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
When Sex Goes to School is a book about America's sex education imbroglio. The author, Dr. Kristin Luker, is a professor of sociology, at the University of California, Berkeley; a professor in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law; and an inveterate sex researcher. An important theme permeating the book's pages is that Americans of all ages have great difficulty dealing with sex. Exhibiting great intellectual diligence, Luker strive assiduously to unravel and instructively examine knottily tied strands enmeshing sex education, sex, marriage, and gender in America. The determined efforts of Luker are a great boon to all persons with an interest in the raging controversy which erupts when sex goes to school in America.
The substance of the book is derived in very substantial part from interviews conducted by Luker in the course of her fieldwork in four places. As explained in Chapter One, Luker spent over four years in a place she describes as a once rural town on the West Coast; a year in a place she describes as a small rural community in the South; almost two years in a place she describes as an affluent community in the Rust Belt East; and large chunks of five years in a West Coast community. Anecdotal interview data culled from Luker's fieldwork (importantly encompassing fragments of real life comments, and parts of actual conversations) are sewed artfully into the textual fabric. The book's anecdotally derived substantive bulk is adroitly hewed in instructive fashion by Luker's sharply cutting instrument of keen erudition.
Critics may caution, however, that sex education in America is a quite challenging terrain replete with nettlesome questions. And that, from an academic perspective, attempts to gingerly traverse this thorny realm by means of carefully discerning scrutiny of anecdotal data gleaned from field interviews is a research path weakened by sizable fissures. Particularly, the anecdotal nature of the data weakens the book's academic power. Moreover, the sample population of persons interviewed by Luker is relatively small; and the views of these persons may not reflect accurately the views of all Americans regarding sex education.
Possible criticisms notwithstanding, it cannot sensibly be gainsaid that an intellectually nurturing fount of information and insights, tethered to America's sex education controversy, flows copiously through the pages of the book. And, at the least, Luker's highly instructive study of sex education in America may very helpfully contribute to further debate, of a better informed nature, regarding this contentious area.
The book's substantive contents structurally encompass nine chapters. There is, additionally, a "prologue" as well as three appendices, "Notes" and a Bibliography adjoining the far end of the text. Working within these structural parameters, Luker expounds expertly on the sex education debate which has long inflamed Americans' sentiment.
The birth of sex education in America raptly engages Luker's interest, in Chapter Two. As explicated by Luker, a "sexual revolution" unfolded at the beginning of the 20th Century. Americans of that time era, as explained by Luker, were in the grip of a historic social shift in which the meaning of "sex" was transitioning away from an earlier emphasis on reproduction and instead towards intimacy. The later "sexual revolution" of the 1960s garners the close attention of Luker, in Chapter Three. The thought provoking discourse of Luker explains that the cataclysmic Sixties were "revolutionary" in the sense that extant social ideas regarding gender and sexuality were questioned openly in America. Indeed, attitudes and behaviors of Americans concerning sex and gender changed radically. Sex for pure pleasure became an option for women; and optional motherhood became a part of the culture.
Perspicacious examination of sexual liberals and conservatives occupies the substantive space of Chapter Four. The view advanced by Luker is that there is a widening chasm in America separating persons with "liberal" sexual values from those with "conservative" ones. The complexly nuanced meanings of such values are broached carefully. The crux of Chapter Five is sorting out the sundry forces driving persons into the respective camps of sexual liberals and conservatives.
The sense conveyed strongly by Luker is that liberals and conservatives on opposite sides of the sex fence view the world through very different lenses. For instance, Luker muses, in Chapter Six, that sexual conservatives fondly romanticize the past, whereas sexual liberals are relatively sanguine regarding prospects for a better future. In another vein, Luker, in Chapter Seven, opines that sexual conservatives tend to adhere to the idea of a divinely inspired, timeless moral code, whereas sexual liberals are more likely to embrace a relatively dynamic view of morality which accepts the periodic adapting of rules of moral conduct so as to conform sensibly to evolving circumstances.
In Chapter Eight, Luker absorbingly draws to readers' attention the relatively uncontroversial nature of sex education in Sweden and France, in stark contradistinction to the heated flames of controversy sparked by sex education programs in America. Luker insightfully ponders this dichotomy. In concluding Chapter Nine, Luker studies the respective views of comprehensive sex education proponents and abstinence advocates.
In one of the appendices (Appendix I) following the text, Luker comments about research methods she used to gather the materials comprising the book's essence; and in another (Appendix III), Luker explains how she edited the raw interview data she collected. Further structural appendages in the form of annotated research "Notes", and a Bibliography consisting of an expansive listing of research materials, importantly augment the book's research value.
Luker's excellently written book may not douse the volatile flames of social divisiveness engulfing sex education programs in America, but it does very helpfully examine the fiery controversy from its seeds and roots to its many socially contentious branches. Sex educators, school teachers, school principals, sociologists, historians, social scientists, political scientists, policy makers, politicians, and theologians are among the many groups of persons who may be benefitted greatly by the educationally illumining contents of this splendid book.
© 2008 Leo Uzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare.
Comment on this review