Sex and Punishment (Kobo eBook)
From Mesopotamian adultery to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde: an “enormously informative and entertaining” history of Western sex laws (The Boston Globe).
The “raging frenzy” of the sex drive, to use Plato’s phrase, has always defied control. That’s not to say that the Sumerians, Victorians, and every civilization in between and beyond have not tried, wielding their most formidable weapon: the law. At any given point in time, some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly. Jump forward or backward a century or two and the harmless fun of one time period becomes the gravest crime in another.
This “jaw-dropping data on sex and sin” (Guardian, UK) tells the story of the struggle throughout the millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behavior using flesh-and-blood cases—much flesh and even more blood—to evoke the entire sweep of sexual/legal transgressions. And the cast is as varied as desire itself: royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, lonely goat-lovers, prostitutes, presidents, and London rent boys. Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged—and justice, as lawyer and author Eric Berkowitz reveals in this “rewarding wonderland of the forbidden,” rarely had much to do with it. (Tri-Quarterly Review).