The Origins of Sex
A History of the First Sexual Revolution
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|Format:||Hardback, 496 pages|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 02 February 2012|
Nowadays we believe that consenting adults have the freedom to do what they like with their own bodies. We publicize and celebrate sex; we discuss it endlessly; and, we are obsessed with the sex lives of celebrities. We think it wrong that in other cultures people suffer for their sexual orientation, that women are treated as second-class citizens, or that adulterers are put to death. Yet until quite recently our own society was like this too. For most of western history, all sex outside marriage was illegal, and the church, the state, and ordinary people all devoted huge efforts to suppressing and punishing it. This was a central feature of Christian civilization, one that had steadily grown in importance since the early middle ages. In this brilliant, ground-breaking book, Faramerz Dabhoiwala describes in dramatic detail how, between 1600 and 1800, this entire world view was shattered by revolutionary new ideas - that sex is a private matter; that morality cannot be imposed by force; and, that men are more lustful than women. Henceforth, the private lives of both sexes were to be endlessly broadcast and debated, in a rapidly expanding universe of public media: newspapers, pamphlets, journals, novels, poems, and prints. "The Origins of Sex" shows that the creation of this modern culture of sex was a central part of the Enlightenment, intertwined with the era's major social, political and intellectual trends. It helped create a new model of Western civilization, whose principles of privacy, equality, and freedom of the individual remain distinctive to this day.
About the Author
Faramerz Dabhoiwala was born in England, grew up in Amsterdam, and was educated at York and Oxford. He is the Senior Fellow in History at Exeter College, Oxford, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and the father of two children. This is his first book.
In this significant historical debut, Faramerz Dabhoiwala presents his readers with a revelation: how early, and how suddenly, the permissive society arrived in Christian Western Europe.Over three centuries ago a revolution took place in Western attitudes to sex; it began in England, but all modern Westerners are its heirs, and now it is challenging and remoulding patterns of sexual behaviour throughout the world.The book is not simply a finely-crafted work of history, but a study that will reshape the way its readers understand the most intimate level of their lives.It may even bring some sanity to modern debates about sexuality. -- Diarmaid Macculloch In this brilliantly argued, lucid and enthralling book, Faramerz Dabhoiwala describes the first sexual revolution - a sea change in attitudes towards sexual morality, the public and the private. The Origins of Sex shows how far men enjoyed, and women endured, the new sexual world. It is a majestic and provocative history of ideas and attitudes. -- Amanda Vickery
Dabhoiwala (modern history, Exeter Coll., Oxford Univ.) here argues for the importance of what he calls the first sexual revolution. He locates an apex of civil and religious enforcement against sexual behavior in 16th-century England, where adultery was a capital crime. He works meticulously through the historical records of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries to show how English culture evolved intellectually, politically, and socially to arrive at modern ideas of sexual liberty, gender equality, and the privatization of sex-ideas that continued to evolve and transform culture during the 20th century. VERDICT While no consideration is given to non-English history (e.g., developments in France and Holland, though surely there was a cross-fertilization of ideas), this book is highly recommended to readers interested in English history and the history of sexuality. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
|Publisher: ||Allen Lane|
|Dimensions: ||24.0 x 16.0 x 3.0 centimeters (0.91 kg)|