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Sex in the Heartland Paperback – November 30, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (November 30, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674009746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674009745
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this very informative book, which takes the reader through the turbulent 1960s, Bailey (American studies, Univ. of New Mexico) provides a great deal of support for her premise that the "sexual revolution" was not really a revolution but an evolutionary process, a series of struggles for freedom waged by a large number of those facing discrimination. Concentrating her study on the college town of Lawrence, KSAa location far removed from either coast and therefore offering a more realistic view of the countryAshe surveys the primary shifts of this "revolution," which involved premarital sex, homosexual identity, birth control, drug use, and gender issues. Bailey does not limit her descriptions to Lawrence, using it instead as a lens and going farther afield to describe the news and events that gripped the entire nation (such as the anti-war, hippie, and feminist movements). Recommended for academic libraries.ATim Delaney, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A refreshingly unorthodox examination of the sexual revolution that began in the US in the early 1960s. Bailey's (American Studies/Univ. of New Mexico) argument proceeds from two main contentions: 1) the term revolution conflates many different impulses and outcomes and thus obscures the origins and effects of multiple shifting attitudes towards sexuality; 2) the preponderance of those changing attitudes did not arise on the urban fringe (Greenwich Village, Haight-Ashbury) and percolate across to the cultural mainstream; many of the important changes were actually forged in the heartland by everyday, small-town Americans going about the normal business of living their lives. Bailey employs Lawrence, Kans., as her representative site for the American heartland and traces how changes in attitudes concerning such disparate trends as official government policies toward sexually transmitted disease, the creation and dissemination of the birth-control pill, college administrators efforts to control ``panty raids'' at the state university, and the rights of women and homosexuals all contributed to what could eventually be recognized as a ``sexual revolution'' on a national level. She pays particular attention to unintended consequences, such as the manner in which the deployment of the birth-control pill to stop the ``population explosion'' contributed to the liberation of heterosexual sexual relations, and how reform of the curfew system in the state universities led to greater opportunity for sexual relations among college students. Bailey reminds us of what was at stake in the sexual revolution for many of those caught up in it; she details the story of one young male student threatened with expulsion due to a report of homosexual activity, and a young woman branded a whore in newspapers across the country for living with her boyfriend. An extremely grounded look at an often controversial topic. (22 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael D. Silverman on October 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The sexual revolution didn't just happen in New York and San Francisco, and this book tell the story of how the sexual revolution came to the liberal college town of Lawrence, KS.
This book has a lot of fascinating stories, such as the history of birth control in Lawrence, the story of the town's attempt to "protect" itself from 10,000 sex-crazed young men working the nearby arms factory during WWII, and the history of gay liberation in the area.
Anyone interested in sexual/cultural politics and social issue will really enjoy this one.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a very accessible, well-written book which at the same time provides a complex analysis of American's changing attitudes and assumptions regarding sexual practices. While focusing on Lawrence, Kansas, (very useful for understanding how individuals and institutions reacted within a specific context), it says much about the country as a whole. It is refreshingly forthright without being unnecessarily salacious. And it manages to inform without taking all the fun out of the topic-quite a balancing act!
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Format: Paperback
How much of a revolution was the sexual revolution of the 1960s?

Beth Bailey addresses this question in an intriguing study of Lawrence, Kansas, and the KU campus there. This is a very readable book, of interest to sociologists, policy makers, and, probably, alumni of Kansas University.
Her ideas are well set out and argued. The local detail is fascinating and persuades the reader of the value of this kind of data. Simple analyses in conventional histories of that stormy decade are just that – too simple.
The revolution began long before 1960. The Second World War opened local communities to a wider culture. Local arbiters of morality were sidestepped. Values came from the national media, laws, regulations and funds from Washington. This removal of local controls paved the way for further changes.
She elaborates how these played out over the next 20 before “the 60s” came to Lawrence. This was an era in which men and women gradually threw off restrictions, not to experience promiscuous free love, but to share meaningful relationships based on mutual respect.
The Pill was licensed in 1957. By 1969 8.5m women in America were using it as a contraceptive. Most of them were married. In Lawrence the struggle to make available safe contraception to unmarried women pitched health professionals against each other, against state taxpayers and the Supreme Court. A fascinating chapter by the author shows this was not a case of liberated girls storming the barricades. By 1972 the Pill had become embedded in a woman-centred health care facility, run by female doctors, addressing multiple issues of female health.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TEK on December 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
To begin, I need to note that if given the option I would have rated this book 3.5 stars. But since I wasn't given that option I felt this book was closer to a four star piece of work than a three star book.

Bailey's main point in this book is that the sexual revolution was about more than "free love", and in fact had its roots in seemingly unrelated trends, such as the advent of mass media, interstate highways, and the growth of federal government power. Bailey does a great job in illustrating how such trends led to an environment in which the sexual revolution was possible. Her articulation of how administrators (at KU and in the army, for example) shifted from morals to practical outcomes was also very convincing.

On the other hand, I do feel compelled to dock Bailey 1 (or 1.5) stars because her presentation was one-sided and often inaccurate in its portrayal of the "traditionalists". The bulk of her writing is dedicated to articulating and exploring the meaning of the various factions of the revolution. I certainly think doing this is important, especially for a book on this topic. However, Bailey fails to get into the ideology/philosophy/theology behind the "traditional" views, which causes her portrayals of those views to be simplistic and monolithic. She is too willing to accept the verdict that all of "traditional" society was oppressive to women, minorities, homosexuals, or even different world-views. I think Bailey could learn a lot from the likes of W. Bradford Wilcox or Timothy Keller, who demonstrate that most people of the "traditionalist" camp in mainstream society actually are perverting the meaning of Scripture.

One example, especially pertinent to this book, would be the issue of "female subordination", as Bailey puts it.
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