- Paperback: 466 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (February 28, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226142647
- ISBN-13: 978-0226142647
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America 2nd Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Beginning just before the foundation of the colonies, this book walks us step-by-step through the history of sexuality in America. D'Emilio and Freedman provide direct primary quotes from the individuals who were experiencing the sexual norms in each time period. They also provide interesting and enlightening anecdotes, court cases, laws, and images which help us to better understand the history of sexuality in America.
This book will help you to better understand the origin of puritan thoughts on sex in America and beyond. It does exactly what it purports to do in the clear, concise prose of historians who know their stuff.
The book itself provides a broad descriptive introduction to the history of sexuality and reproduction from the colonial era to the present, but also presents a clear argument that is easy to follow. The authors claim that sexuality in America has gone through three distinct phases, from family governed sexuality in the colonial era, to privatized but conservative sexuality in the nineteenth century, to our era of comparative sexual freedom, often governed by consumerist values, in the twentieth century. Beyond that, it is simply fun to read.
The book does use language that might be considered objectionable by some, but these words are quoted directly from contemporary historical sources. They help to give an honest impression of the way sexuality was discussed in the past. It is a very good book.
There is plenty of interesting information here, ranging from the sexual practices of the early colonists to grassroots campaigns to censor sexually explicit literature. The authors capitalize on a wide variety of evidence, citing both quantitative and qualitative research to buttress their arguments. "Intimate Matters" is an important contribution to a neglected area of historical inquiry, and offers readers important insight into how economic and cultural forces shape, and are shaped by, human sexuality.
In early America, the main deterrent to premarital sex was the fear of pregnancy and the severe consequence of social ostracization.
However, sexual desire was always there for both men and women, regardless of social class or standing. Control over casual sex lay in the hands of family and/or the mores of society. Premarital sex was not permissible for anybody. In practice however, this sexual taboo applied mostly to women.
Men - on the other hand - had choices! They were the creators (always with god's help - of course) and enforcers of the rules and laws governing our social behavior! Talk about one-way streets!
Margaret Sanger (born 1883) was a nurse who fumed over this grossly unfair treatment between the sexes and began the search for a dependable means of birth control. She needed a means or device that women could use to counter their fear of unintended pregnancy. She locked horns, clanged heads with the law (mainly the Comstock laws), and ended up with a number of warrants issued for her arrest. She fled to Europe while a number of her friends and associates kept the ball rolling in search of a positive, reliable means of birth control for women.
In 1915, she announced she was returning to America to surrender and stand trial on the charges against her. As soon as the courts heard of this, all charges against her were dropped; the bureaucrats feared her like no other woman.
For the first time, women got reliable birth control devices, and could begin to enjoy sex outside of marriage, without fear, just as surely as men did.
By the turn of the century, in order to finish leveling the sexual playing field, women needed a place to go and a means of getting there. Two World Wars, one in 1914 and the other in 1941, would provide the answers.