Enfilade

New Title | The Origins of Sex

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on October 14, 2012

Dabhoiwala’s book appeared earlier this year, building on a 2010 Past and Present article, and I should have noted it months ago. I’m not sure scholarly reviews of it are yet in (please add what I’ve overlooked), but it was reviewed widely in the popular press. Here’s one of those from The Literary Review:

Faramerz Dabhoiwala, The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2012), 496 pages, ISBN: 9780199892419, $35.

Reviewed by Norma Clarke, Kingston University

A woman born in 1600 grew up being told she was the most lustful of God’s creatures. Come 1800 and the message was reversed: she was ‘naturally’ delicate and pure. No longer having lusts of her own to manage, her role was to control the ‘natural’ lust of men and thus preserve civilisation. Dogmas about sexuality had undergone remarkable change. What remained the same was female subordination.

In this ambitious and wide-ranging book, Faramerz Dabhoiwala charts what he calls ‘a history of the first sexual revolution’. He examines the religious, economic, intellectual and social pressures that provided the context for a shift in attitudes towards sexuality. The move from pre-modern to modern times was towards sexual permissiveness and privacy, and away from external controls of individual sexual behaviours. . . .

The full review is available here»

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