The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution
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Still, some readers have found his tale of Enlightenment sexual progress entirely too sunny. But Mr.
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Dabhoiwala said that such arguments underestimate the real gains of the 18th-century reclassification of sex as a private matter, gains he ventured to call permanent. The non-Western world is a different story, though Mr. Dabhoiwala said he was amazed to see Twitter posts about the book coming from North Africa, Saudi Arabia and other places that are still debating basic sexual freedoms. As for the home audience he laughed off the claim — misattributed to him in the British press, he said — that reading his book can improve your sex life.
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It helped create a new model of Western civilization, whose principles of privacy, equality, and freedom of the individual remain distinctive to this day. There's a pernicious assumption visible in a lot of modern treatments of sex and gender relations, which boils down to the following idea: that men want sex, and will pursue it aggressively, while No matter how fascinating the topic, I always approach nonfiction skeptically.
While some is well-written and engaging, it sometimes seems the authors are intentionally trying to put their readers Faramerz Dabhoiwala. Adultery was originally perceived as a matter of public concern with culprits being whipped or punished in other ways and only later it began to be seen more a 'The Origin of Sex' is a misleading title.
Adultery was originally perceived as a matter of public concern with culprits being whipped or punished in other ways and only later it began to be seen more as a private matter, exempt from the interference of the law. Dabhoiwala is especially useful on his Hogarth's prints, the establishment of centres for reformed prositutes such as Magdalen House in London and the ambigious portrayal of the rake in 18th century literature ie in Richardson's 'Pamela' and 'Clarissa'.
Dabhoiwala is very good in elaborating on Laqueor's thesis that the perception of female as essentialy different from the male was a partial invention of the 19th century. He is keen to remind us that in the middle ages women were seen as particularly susceptible to sexual desire. Indeed, it was believed that children were only conceived when a woman orgasmed.
Faramerz Dabhoiwala - Wikipedia
In the late 18th century it was men's passions which were primarily blamed. In all honesty, if I was still studying 18th century literature I would be very likely to use 'The Origins of Sex' as a reference in an essay. So far, I have elaborated on aspects of the book which would have received a four star rating if they could only be rated separately.
But I think that before Dabhoiwla arrives at the benchmark of the 17th century his analysis is rather one-sided. He dwells on the possibility of the death penalty being used for both the raped and the rapist as an example of the strictness of medieval law. But he fails to analyse the indecentness of a great deal of Chaucer's poems or to mention the supreme ideal of adulterous courtly love.
Equally importantly, Dabhoiwala's celebration of sexual freedom in the 18th century is written from a rather 21st century perspective. Sexual freedom in the 18th century is seen here primarily as a good thing- but it was enjoyed mainly by rich, white men at the cost of impoverished women. In a time when knowledge of birth control and STD prevention was severely limited, women often bore the costs of their partners' sexual liberty.
Equally, men all too often presumed consent.
Pepys's account in which he forces himself upon the wife of a friend would easily be seen as rape in modern terms, and Dabhoiwala acknowledges this. Yet Dabhoiwala aches to criticise the charities 18th century benefactors set up with the aim of rescuing of fallen women- he seems to think they are almost an instance brainwashing- even though applicants mostly volunteered themselves, and there were always more applications than places available.
Likewise, the methods of birth control used by London prostitutes are not mentioned in this book and neither is the fate of their offspring. Indeed, sex seems completely disassociated from procreation. The author fails to mention mortality rates in childbirth which must have affected women's ambiguous attitudes to sex at the time.
Indeed, sex in this book is mainly studied in extramarital terms. Another aspect missing from this account are the lives of the famous prostitutes that are described as examples of celebrity culture. I am indebted to Google for my knowledge of the lives of Nell Gwynn, Sally Salisbury who probably died of syphillis and Kitty Fisher died 26 of unknown causes even though countless less relevant lives have been related to me through the course of this work and Kitty Fisher featured on the book's front cover.
Even though the subject is undoubtedly a fascinating one, I remain somewhat displeased with the content of this book. No matter how fascinating the topic, I always approach nonfiction skeptically. While some is well-written and engaging, it sometimes seems the authors are intentionally trying to put their readers, mostly luckless students, directly to sleep. Much as I love sleep, I can generally manage it just fine on my own, so I have no interest in such tomes.
Thankfully, the writing of The Origins of Sex, while highly scholarly, is also pretty readable so far as serious scholarship goes. What strikes me perha No matter how fascinating the topic, I always approach nonfiction skeptically. What strikes me perhaps most of all, having read this book, is how little progress we have actually made as a culture with regards to sex.
Sure, we went through a sexual revolution and all of that, and we definitely see ourselves as being way more open to sex than our antecedents, but this just isn't the case. I mean, the idea, which is most definitely still pervasive, that women don't have as much of a sexual drive as men do, for example, stems from the mid eighteenth century. Prior to that point, women were believed to be lusty tempters, like Eve. It should be noted that Dabhoiwala is speaking specifically to the development of opinions of sex in Europe. The discussion is, in fact, limited almost exclusively to Britain.
However, the thought there obviously impacts the United Stated quite a bit. I'm not sure how helpful this would be to completely different cultures, except perhaps to get people thinking about their own cultures treatment of sex throughout the ages. Scholarship may not be your thing honestly, it's usually not mine either , but there are some seriously shocking facts in here, as well as some facts I'm just going to store away.
The focus is definitely on the treatment of women with regards to sex, so I definitely recommend this to feminists. Now, just so you can see how entertaining history can be, I'm going to share a couple of fun facts with you about special 'masculine sex clubs': "One of its most vigorous proponents, the politician Sir Francis Dashwood, founded several libertine societies.
At the centre of his estate he built a temple to Venus, landscaped to resemble a gigantic vagina. Petersburg in Russia. Its members met regularly to drink, talk about sex, exchange bawdy jokes and songs, and read pornography. They paid young women to strip and display themselves naked.
Their central purpose was to compare penises and masturbate in front of one another, singly and together, in elaborate rights of phallic celebration. What blows my mind most is that there were so many societies doing this. And they had accoutrements.
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It's like they thought they were a special phallus religion. As for the last, what I want to know is can the woman brand him? If not, that is RUDE. These are just a couple of historical goodies you can learn in The Origins of Sex. I found this to be an entirely enlightening read, and recommend it highly to anyone interested in scholarship on the history of opinions on sex. It will definitely make you question some of our modern thoughts, as you realize that they're not really modern at all.
Apr 21, Henk-Jan van der Klis rated it liked it. In The Origins of Sex, dr. For millennia, sex had been strictly regulated by the Church, the state, and society. Until the 17th century harsh punishments were given to men and women that had sex outside of marriage.
But by the 19th century everything had changed. And for us, 21st century westerners sexuality is so woven into our culture, In The Origins of Sex, dr. And for us, 21st century westerners sexuality is so woven into our culture, literature, television programmes, ads en ethics, that most of us even think about alternatives. Dabhoiwala has done a lot of research from laws, court cases, novels, pornography, history, paintings and diaries and letters, that illustrate the changing opinions on sexuality. The most basic modern novelty was a perennial indeterminacy about the limits of sexual freedom.
In place of a relatively coherent, authoritative world view that had endured for centuries, the Enlightenment left a much greater confusion and plurality of moral perspectives, with irresolvable tensions between them. At a basic level, attitudes after evolved in two contrasting ways.
On the one hand we can trace continued, or even tightened, social control over various forms of sexual behaviour. Though the machinery of public punishment had been largely abandoned, its ideals were not. Against this backdrop of apparent national decline and social upheaval, the importance of religious faith and of social conservatism came to be widely reaffirmed: only by going back to basics would the nation find its way again.
For women of all classes, sexual ignorance and passivity came increasingly to be valued as essential components of respectable femininity and heterosexual love. This was not just a male ideal: most women themselves deeply internalized it, and policed it in others. Just as important, especially in the English context, was the further development of social double standards.