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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Printing edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374230897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374230890
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a book as informative as it is entertaining, Bering (Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?) argues for the efficacy of science and logic over irrational morals when addressing sexual deviancy. Citing numerous studies and historical sources, Bering makes the claim that, deep down, we are all sexual deviants in one form or another—and that sexual deviancy is, in fact, not deviant at all. From the beginning of human history, people have engaged in antiheteronormative behaviors, from bestiality to pedophilia. Furthermore, Bering shows how most sexual deviancy isn't a choice, but rather is the result of a genetic predisposition over which the individual has no control. Laws and medical diagnoses controlling sexual activity should investigate whether the activities in question cause harm (though harm itself is subjective, and is therefore also a problematic way to assess behavior), rather than whether society is merely grossed out by them. This is clearly a personal topic for Bering, who is gay and, in fact, discusses his experiences of self-loathing and discrimination. Despite the occasional preachy paragraph, Bering's latest is a delightful, intelligent, and thought-provoking addition to the growing body of our sexual knowledge of self. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (Oct.)

Review

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice


 

“As informative as it is entertaining . . . Bering’s latest is a delightful, intelligent, and thought-provoking addition to the growing body of our sexual knowledge of self.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

“Bering's a supple, witty writer, and praiseworthy terms like wry and irreverent suggest themselves readily. The book is a humane flirtation with the often-strange intimacies that drive people's lives.”
—Michael Washburn, The Boston Globe

 

“A master craftsman at refashioning reproductive biology into provocative composition, Bering nimbly probes ‘the darkest corners of our sexual nature” with no illicit aftertaste.’”
Kirkus Reviews

“Against a colorful backdrop of science, history, and psychology, Bering calls on human society to stop judging people’s sexual preferences based on a personal belief about what’s normal or natural, instead asking what is harmful. [He] throws a bucket of ice-cold water on topics that often become overheated by the fires of morality, religion, and politics.”
The Scientist

“[A] lively exploration of sexual perversion . . . Bering has a very entertaining writing style, but don’t let that distract you from the serious stuff he’s talking about: this isn’t just a list of so-called perversions but, instead, an exploration of the way the human mind and body work and the way we are all just a little bit unusual.”
—Booklist

“As a sex writer, Jesse Bering is fearless—and peerless.”

—Dan Savage

“Like a slightly kinky friend, Perv is sometimes weird, often revelatory, and always enthralling. You’d expect a book about sexual perversions to be at least interesting, but in Jesse Bering’s hands it’s also smart, humorous, and eminently humane.”
—Florence Williams, author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Perv is a deeply fascinating and surprisingly insightful peek into the weird world of human sexuality. With his shocking examples and unique evolutionary approach, Jesse Bering provides perhaps the best testament out there to Mark Twain’s immortal quip that man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to.”
—Laurie Santos, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory, Yale University

“Come to gawk, stay to learn. Jesse Bering has written a fascinating, funny, and scientifically literate book about all the aspects of sex you didn’t want to think about. Perv will change the way you see yourself and everyone around you.”
—Art Markman, Ph.D., author of Smart Thinking and Habits of Leadership

“If truth be told—and Jesse Bering urges us to be honest—we’re all perverts. And if you’re not, then most around you are. Bering pulls no punches in this engrossing romp through the history, cultural relativism, politics, and science of sexuality. He brings shadowy taboos out to the front stage for a juicy, humorous, and nonjudgmental outing. Perv is a page-turner that is hard to put down.”
—Bruce Hood, Chair of Developmental Psychology in Society, University of Bristol, and author of The Self Illusion

“Jesse Bering’s Perv is a copiously researched, scientifically solid, fascinating and fun ride through a museum of sexual oddities that makes a strong argument for why we need to ease up on our sneers at the ‘erotic outliers’ and admit the reality: To perv is human.”
—Amy Alkon , author of I See Rude People

“In this unusual and wonderful book, Jesse Bering makes a persuasive case that we are all perverts. Bering is funny, brave, and deeply compassionate toward those whose desires cause suffering to themselves and others. This brilliant book will appeal to anyone who wants to learn more about the most unruly and intimate aspects of our lives.”
—Paul Bloom, Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology, Yale University, and author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil


Praise for Why Is the Penis Shaped like That?

“I have yet to come away from reading one of [Bering’s] essays and not feel considerably better informed than I was just minutes before.” 
Forbes

“Excellent in its entirety, woven of Bering’s rare tapestry of scientific rigor and a powerful, articulate social point of view.”
Brain Pickings

 


More About the Author

Jesse Bering, PhD, began his career as a psychology professor at the University of Arkansas and is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen's University Belfast. In 2011, he left his academic post and returned to the U.S. to write full time, settling in Ithaca, New York with his partner, Juan Quiles, along with their kindly, obese cat and two pathologically friendly border terriers. Notable for his frank and humorous handling of controversial issues, especially those dealing with sex, evolution, religion, and morality, Bering is a regular contributor to Scientific American and Slate, and has written for many other outlets, including New York Magazine, The Guardian, The New Republic, The New York Times, and Discover. The Sunday Times refers to his work as "deeply thought-provoking as well as shallowly provocative," while the New York Observer calls it "equal parts sedulous and silly." For more, go to www.jessebering.com.

Bering's latest book is Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2013).




Customer Reviews

A very engaging writing style that relies on good research, sound science and humor.
Book Shark
Not only did I keep putting this book down as too boring to read in large swaths, I couldn't keep it up (pun intended) for more than a few pages at a time.
Douglas Smith
This book has opened my eyes in many ways while simultaneously making me feel like less of a weirdo.
LoLo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All of Us by Jesse Bering

"Perv: The Sexual Deviant In All of Us" is the uncomfortable, relentless, fearless look into the not-so-uncommon devious world of human sexuality. Dr. Jesse Bering is on a courageous quest to expose the full spectrum of erotic manifestations. The fascinating topic is equaled only by Bering's innate ability to use scientific research into a narrative that provokes, shocks and ultimately educates. This entertaining 289-page book includes the following seven chapters: 1. We're All Perverts, 2. Damn Dirty Apes, 3. Sister Nymph and Brother Satyr, 4. Cupid the Psychopath, 5. It's Subjective, My Dear, 6. A Suitable Age, and 7. Life Lessons for the Lewd and Lascivious.

Positives:
1. A very engaging writing style that relies on good research, sound science and humor. Refreshingly open resulting from years of having to live in fear for no other reason other than being.
2. The fascinating yet surprisingly neglected topic of human sexuality in the fearless hands of one Dr. Jesse Bering. Sexual perversions...oh my.
3. This book in many respects is a plea to stop judging people's sexual preferences on what is considered normal and instead on what is considered harmful. It's a book in defense of "erotic outliers".
4. Making clear what you are going to get out of this book besides being thoroughly entertained, "What you're going to discover along the way is that you have a lot more in common with the average pervert than you may be aware. I'll be sharing with you a blossoming new science of human sexuality, one that's revealing how "sexual deviancy" is in fact far less deviant than most of us assume."
5. The origin and evolution of the word perversion...who knew?
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ionia Martin TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
*WARNING: DO not read this book if you are the type that is offended by...almost anything. More specifically by things of a frank sexual nature. Don't say I did not warn you. However, if you are perv like me that is disturbed by little and finds humour in negative spaces, then please by all means, proceed.*

This is an interesting book. I mean interesting in multiple ways. While clearly the author is highly educated and knows quite a lot about human sexuality and the forces that drive deviant behaviour, this is not your typical textbook look at said situation.

Instead, this author uses a humorous approach to recounting his own experiences and gives his opinion on the matters at hand. He is very open, honest and I found him entertaining, although it should be noted that his non-religious views may offend some as he does not hold back when speaking of his disbelief in a higher power.

I am not sure there is a single subject in the realm of deviance that this author did not explore. There are moments that will make you blush, a few that might make your stomach turn and many more still that will make you think about civilisation as a whole and how we came to be how we are. One thing I really did enjoy about this book was his nonpartisan attitude. This author does not make harsh judgments against anyone, but simply gives the reader a chance to view things from an objective perspective. He does not try to influence your beliefs, yet feels comfortable enough to offer his own opinion.

While I did not agree with all of the author's views, I did see things his way a good number of times.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on October 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ironically this book has entered the book market at the same time as Showtime's "Masters of Sex" has reached out TV sets.
I had not read anything by Jesse Bering before--had never heard of him--but am delighted I took a chance on "Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us." This is not a scholar's type of book although it is written with extensive--and very interesting--footnotes as well as a very extensive bibliography.
The book is what it says it is: a work about the rich diversity of human sexuality, a topic that intrigued
Dr. William Masters and Virginia Masters several decades ago. (By the way, I also highly recommend "Masters of Sex" with its very ironic title.) But I suspect that the mainstream public, especially those who are religiously and politically conservative would shun this book. Yet, ironically, this is exactly the book they should be reading to broaden their horizons.
Quite possibly gay men--and I am one--such as the author have more of a curiosity about the uniquenesses of what "turns people on" sexually because we have been admonished for being "perverts" and have had to struggle with that issue. However, Masters and Johnson discovered decades ago that straight people are just as "perverted" as gays.
In Bering's book, he reclaims the word "pervert" (or as he calls all of us, "pervs") by showing that there are so many varieties of fantasies.
A work like this should be seen as just another opening up of dialogue. I straight minister I know who struggles with issues around homosexuality--he is so against gay marriage--said this to me, "I don't know what makes men homosexuals." And I thought to myself, "Then why are you not asking them, including me?
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