Dirty Words: The Rhetoric of Public Sex Education, 1870-1924, details the approaches and outcomes of sex-education initiatives in the Progressive Era. In analyzing the rhetorical strategies of sex education advocates, Robin E. Jensen engages with rich sources such as lectures, books, movies, and posters that were often shaped by female health advocates and instructors. She offers a revised narrative that demonstrates how women were both leaders and innovators in early U.S. sex-education movements, striving to provide education to underserved populations of women, minorities, and the working class. Investigating the communicative and rhetorical practices surrounding the emergence of public sex education in the United States, Jensen shows how women in particular struggled for a platform to create and circulate arguments concerning this controversial issue.
The book also provides insight into overlooked discourses about public sex education by analyzing a previously understudied campaign targeted at African American men in the 1920s, offering theoretical categorizations of discursive strategies that citizens have used to discuss sex education over time, and laying out implications for health communicators and sexual educators in the present day.
The American public responded to the first cases of AIDS with fear and panic. Both policymakers and activists were concerned not only with stopping the spread of the disease, but also with guiding the public’s response toward those already infected. Fatal Advice is an examination of how the nation attempted, with mixed results, to negotiate the fears and concerns brought on by the epidemic. A leading writer on the cultural politics of AIDS, Cindy Patton guides us through the thicket of mass-media productions, policy and public health enterprises, and activist projects as they sprang up to meet the challenge of the epidemic, shaping the nation’s notion of what safe-sex is and who ought to know what about it. There is the official story, and then there is another, involving local groups and AIDS activists. Going back to early government and activist attempts to spread information, Patton traces a slow separation between official advice and that provided by those on the front lines in the battle against AIDS. She shows how American anxieties about teen sex played into the nation’s inadequate education and protection of its young people, and chronicles the media’s attempts to encourage compassion without broaching the touchy subject of sex or disrupting the notion that AIDS was a disease of social and sexual outcasts. Her overview of the relationship between shifting medical perceptions and safe-sex advice reveals why radical safe-sex educators eventually turned to sexually explicit, including pornographic, representations to spread their message—and why even these extreme tactics could not overcome the misguided national teaching on AIDS. Patton closes with a stirring manifesto, an urgent call to action for all those who do not want to see the hard lessons of AIDS education and activism wasted, or, with these lessons, the loss of so many more lives.
The PassionBook is the most famous work of erotica in the vast literature of Tibetan Buddhism, written by the legendary scholar and poet Gendun Chopel (1903-1951). Soon after arriving in India in 1934, he discovered the Kama Sutra. Realizing that this genre of the erotic was unknown in Tibet, he set out to correct the situation. His sources were two: classical Sanskrit works and his own experiences with his lovers. Completed in 1939, his “treatise on passion” circulated in manuscript form in Tibet, scandalizing and arousing its readers.
Gendun Chopel here condemns the hypocrisy of both society and church, portraying sexual pleasure as a force of nature and a human right for all. On page after page, we find the exuberance of someone discovering the joys of sex, made all the more intense because they had been forbidden to him for so long: he had taken the monastic vow of celibacy in his youth and had only recently renounced it. He describes in ecstatic and graphic detail the wonders he discovered. In these poems, written in beautiful Tibetan verse, we hear a voice with tints of irony, self-deprecating wit, and a love of women not merely as sources of male pleasure but as full partners in the play of passion.
In a 1914 movie, Damaged Goods, a doctor shows a character the horrific effects of venereal disease. In contrast, many of today's sex ed videos encourage viewers to realize their sexuality more fully as a source of pleasure. In Sex Ed, Robert Eberwein demonstrates how films and videos used for sex education have provided a complex ideological framework in which questions of sexuality, gender, and race are compellingly foregrounded.
Eberwein starts his investigation in the silent and early sound eras with educational films used both to warn audiences about venereal disease and to provide basic contraception information. World War II movies, he states, waged their own war against venereal disease-in the armed services and at home. Newer works deal with birth control and focus in particular on AIDS.
Sex Ed also highlights the classroom. Eberwein draws connections between the earliest and most recent examples of educational films as he analyzes their ideological complexity. He concludes by examining marriage-manual films of the early 1970s and very recent videos for couples and individuals seeking instruction in sexual techniques to increase pleasure.
The Sex Education Debates
Nancy Kendall University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress HQ57.5.A3K465 2012 | Dewey Decimal 613.9071
Educating children and adolescents in public schools about sex is a deeply inflammatory act in the United States. Since the 1980s, intense political and cultural battles have been waged between believers in abstinence until marriage and advocates for comprehensive sex education. In The Sex Education Debates, Nancy Kendall upends conventional thinking about these battles by bringing the school and community realities of sex education to life through the diverse voices of students, teachers, administrators, and activists.
Drawing on ethnographic research in five states, Kendall reveals important differences and surprising commonalities shared by purported antagonists in the sex education wars, and she illuminates the unintended consequences these protracted battles have, especially on teachers and students. Showing that the lessons that most students, teachers, and parents take away from these battles are antithetical to the long-term health of American democracy, she argues for shifting the measure of sex education success away from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates. Instead, she argues, the debates should focus on a broader set of social and democratic consequences, such as what students learn about themselves as sexual beings and civic actors, and how sex education programming affects school-community relations.
When seeking approaches for sex education, few look to the past for guidance. But Susan K. Freeman's investigation of the classrooms of the 1940s and 1950s offers numerous insights into the potential for sex education to address adolescent challenges, particularly for girls. From rural Toms River, New Jersey, to urban San Diego and many places in between, the use of discussion-based classes fostered an environment that focused less on strictly biological matters of human reproduction and more on the social dimensions of the gendered and sexual worlds that the students inhabited.
Although the classes reinforced normative heterosexual gender roles that could prove repressive, the discussion-based approach also emphasized a potentially liberating sense of personal choice and responsibility in young women's relationship decisions. In addition to the biological and psychological underpinnings of normative sexuality, teachers presented girls' sex lives and gendered behavior as critical to the success of American families and, by extension, the entire way of life of American democracy. The approaches of teachers and students were sometimes predictable and other times surprising, yet almost wholly without controversy in the two decades before the so-called Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. Sex Goes to School illuminates the tensions between and among adults and youth attempting to make sense of sex in a society that was then, as much as today, both sex-phobic and sex-saturated.