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Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226139395
ISBN-10: 0226139395
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An academic but insightful look at the evolution and meaning of barebacking in gay culture. Dean . . . does not make any social arguments about barebacking but rather looks at the surrounding subculture from an anthropological standpoint, attempting to unravel the point of view, motivations, and interests of its inhabitants. A smart unbiased read for anyone seeking greater understanding of the phenomenon."
(Advocate.com)

 “Unlimited Intimacy is novel, fascinating, insightful, and courageous. Tim Dean convincingly argues that confronting head-on a sexual subculture that is alien to most readers, and understanding the fantasies that propel it, is a very good way of stimulating thought—not only about that subculture, but about one’s own choices and behavior and about the general social process of demonizing and pathologizing certain sexual practices.”--Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago
(Martha Nussbaum)

“This is a serious and intelligent study that aims to provoke, challenge, anger and stimulate debate. . . . There is much to fascinate and learn from this insider’s account of an outsider’s culture.”

(Times Higher Education)

"Dean eschews a soft-touch approach in favor of diving right into his subject matter without reservations. He rarely shies away from the controversial or the incendiary. . . . Definitely not for the squeamish, Dean's non-judgmental analysis remains an important report on a risky yet seductive sex practice."
(Jim Piechota Bay Area Reporter)

"Dean provides fascinating insights about barebacking and its relation to kinship, marriage, cultural visibility, and fetishism. This academically courageous book offers an intellectual challenge to those interested in psychology, sociology, human sexuality, and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Studies."
(Choice)

About the Author

Tim Dean is professor of English and director of the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo. He is the author or editor of several books, including Beyond Sexuality, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (June 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226139395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226139395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a (beautifully written) exploration of some of the meanings that characterize barebacking culture. I especially enjoyed the analysis of barebacking porn, where Dean manages to interpret and probe some of the more obscure representation and desires that animate this genre. Dean is largely non-judgemental of this subculture, which is so refreshing, and he manages to explore some things that empirical HIV social science generally won't go near or touch, just because people aren't quite as articulate in qualitative interviews as their unconscious is imaginative. At the same time, I feel like Dean is occasionally at risk of collapsing the meanings surrounding unprotected sex into a coherent, unitary set of meanings, when surely there are a whole range of reasons for the practice in different contexts, not all of them about building some sort of non-normative gay brotherhood! The latter interpretation sure is imaginative, but as much a fantasy sustained by the author's readings as anything actually 'there' in the subculture. I really enjoyed the read anyhow.
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Format: Paperback
Tim Dean has wriiten a fascinating account of one of the most controversial issues of all-time in the gay community: that of barebacking where men choose not to wear condoms while engaging in anal sex. Written with insightfulness, delicacy and sheer knowledge of the subjext Dean doesn't point fingers or state that gay men should be ashamed of performing such an act, but offers the reasons why barebacking has become all the rage since the late nineties even while a deadly disease still larks around the corner.

Dean probes into how barebacking started around 1997 when the first round of AIDS coctails started and perhaps that is why so many of us decided to forgo condom use. He also writes about condom fatigue and how we as a culture simply became tired of using protection and that no one was going to tell us how to have sex. He mentions how it is so important for many us us to feel that closeness to our lovers and not to have that "barrier" there and how bareback pornography, starting in 2001, really was a proponent that led many gays into the world of bareback sex.

Thought-provoking, yet controversial, I enjoyed "Ultimate Intimacy" to the fullest.
Simply a well-wriiten work on still a very touchy topic.
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By ski bum on September 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tim Dean's "Unlimited Intimacy" is a fascinating and provocative piece of work. It is disturbing but asks the reader to reflect on one's disturbance with a Foucaldian sensibility, i.e. to reflect on how regulatory systems create what disturbs us. Maintaining a balancing act between trying to look at barebacking from inside the subculture, without passing judgement either for or against, he challenges the reader to traverse both the unconscious and subversive thrusts of barebacking culture to create a sexual kinship system that takes back male homosexuality from the effects of AIDS, and the cultural imperative to avoid risk, especially health risks, despite the cost of sacrificing one's relationship to pleasure. It also is an encyclopedic reference book on multiple aspects of contemporary gay culture.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was using this as a reference in a thesis paper as I was told by several people it would be useful in talking about the dynamics of barebacking. While I did find some of the conversation of barebacking to be useful the book, especially its later parts, were extremely problematic and rather that address that Dean limits himself by ending any kind of conversation about ethics with "well this book isn't suppose to be politically correct." What I saw as by far the worst section of the book was his discussion of porn that erotizes race difference by dismissing black authors who say it is racist and instead Dean claims it is actually antiracist because it simply points out a history of racism. I feel that Dean often reached and read queerness and subversiveness into events to support his own claims and ignored how many of those events worked under late capitalism, consumerism, and white supremacy. Stick to reading chapter one, that is about all that is useful in this.
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It remains controversial, but a highly stimulating read about the nature and attraction of bareback sex and the fetish of HIV.
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