Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Informative and Fun Sex Writing, Absolutely No Citation
on October 6, 2010
To start, just gotta say I appreciate the cover photograph. Simple, straightforward and evocative; Shakespeare's "high fantastical" somehow comes to mind. It's wonderful stuff, Alex Treacher (as credited).
I received this book as a gift, from someone believing it was a collection of erotic fiction. For anyone not paying close attention, make sure you understand this: this is not erotic fiction. As the back cover says, "this provocative collection explores the complexity of modern sexuality," and the intro says the various essays (there are 21 in 200 pages) "...shed light on the current erotic climate." The intro wraps up by providing the most direct purpose of this book: "...when it comes to sex, we can all learn something."
Well, I guess I did learn a few things, like that Philadelphia is the castration capital of the U.S., what it's like hanging with Jamie Gillis at home, the current state of the necessarily clandestine hook-up in Iran, the overwrought semantic drama of lesbian labels, the ring-of-fire danger of phthalates in sex toys, tips for renting your very own submissive, and then some. I even learned a new word: heteronormativity.
But, only a couple of articles into this book, the scholar in me was squirming at the glaring absence of any kind of referencing or citation of facts in these reprinted articles. While some of the articles are light and tongue-in-cheek, such as the first article on the possible deep and mystical connection between the Jewess and fellatio, many of them are serious articles exploring sexual identity, repression, health, and--duh--sexual politics.
The data page offers details on the original publication of all of the articles, a mix of online sites, journals, and books. But that's it. In this book there are no footnotes, no endnotes, no parentheticals, no citations whatsoever that support for some of the statements made and facts presented. While the article advocating a lot more menstruation in porn is interesting, overall it's an opinion piece, and requires no citation. But Liz Langley's "Sex and the Single Septuagenarian" at one point cites the rate of HIV infection among Florida seniors at 11 percent (of all FL seniors, apparently). I live in the Washington, DC metro area, with an HIV rate of over 3 percent (as relayed by local TV and radio), and that's a public health crisis that's in the news almost every night. Yet more than one in ten old folks in Florida are HIV-positive? Where is this alarming data coming from, and why is it that there hasn't been a flood of articles, a week-long Good Morning America segment and an Oprah remote on this staggering infection rate 27 times the national average (CDC and US Census Bureau online, 2006)? I can't help but be incredulous of this data point, but have no author sourcing, other than going back to the original article as published at Salon.com in December 2006 (which I did; this article is still available, and there's no citation there either).
Ariel Levy spouts facts about men seeking sex with underage girls, facts that may be true but which strike me as far too easily supporting her argument. Kelly Kyrik cites a "Keene study" identifying sexual predator types, and goes on to provide a great deal of hard statistical data on predators. I'm not saying either of these authors are right or wrong, but how in the world do I begin to make that determination? Where does their information originate? One of the most important things I was ever taught about research and writing: a confident writer provides full citation, and those who do not are suspect.
Bottom line: if you like reading about sex, from many angles and on many unanticipated subjects, and if you're not too hung up on facts and figures and their origins, you'll enjoy this book. If you're uptight, ashamed, repressed, or close-minded, you especially need to buy this book; read it in private, and hopefully you'll get better. And if you're a stickler for scholarly accuracy through direct citation of facts, figures, and statements, the fun and informative nature of this book will be overshadowed by skepticism and nagging doubt.