Rubin - Thinking Sex

Rubin - Thinking Sex - 266 Patricia Murphy Robinson Press...

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Press, vol. 31, no. 2, June 1979. 3 Reported in Female Circumcision, Excision and Infibulation: The Facts and Proposals for Change, Rep. no. 47, Minority Rights Group, London 19~0. (S~e also Abdalla, Raqiya, Sisters in Affliction: Circumcision and Infibula~lOn ~f Women in Africa, Zed Press, London, 1980.) 4 Bernstein, Hilda, For Their Triumphs and for Their Tears: Women in Apartheld South Africa, International Defence Fund, 104 Newgate St London, 1975. ' 5 Holt. and ~an deVelde, Psychological Operations and American Foreiqti Policy, University of Chicago Press, 1960. 6 Ellul, Jacques, Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes Knopf New York, 1965. ' , 266 Patricia Murphy Robinson Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics Sexuality Gayle Rubin I The sex wars Asked his advice, Dr. ]. Guerin affirmed that, after all other treatments had failed, he had succeeded in curing young girls affected by the vice of onanism by burning the clitoris with a hot iron .... Iapply the hot point three times to each of the large labia and another on the clitoris .... After the first operation, from forty to fifty times a day, the number of voluptuous spasms was reduced to three or four .... We believe, then, that in cases similar to those submitted to your consideration, one should not hesitate to resort to the hot iron, and at an early hour, in order to combat clitoral and vaginal onanism in little girls. Demetrius Zambaco! The time has come to think about sex. To some, sexuality may seem to be an unimportant topic, a frivolous diversion from the more critical problems of poverty, war, disease, racism, famine, or nuclear annihilation. But it is precisely at times such as these, when we live with the possibility of unthinkable destruction, that people are likely to become dangerously crazy about sexuality. Contemporary conflicts over sexual values and erotic conduct have much in common with the religious disputes of earlier centuries. They acquire immense symbolic weight. Disputes over sexual behavior often become the vehicles for displacing social anxieties, and discharging their attendant emotional intensity. Consequently, sexuality should be treated with special respect in times of great social stress. The realm of sexuality also has its own internal politics, inequities, and modes of oppression. As with other aspects of human behavior, the concrete institutional forms of sexuality at any given time and place are products of human activity. They are imbued with conflicts of interest and political maneuvering, both deliberate and incidental. In that sense, sex is always political. Butthere are also historical periods in which sexuality is more sharply contested and more overtly politicized. In such periods, the domain of erotic life is, in effect. renegotiated.
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In England and the United States, the late nineteenth century was one such era. During that time, powerful social movements focused on "vices" of all sorts. Thera were educational and political campaigns to encourage chastity, to eliminate prosti- tution, and to discourage masturbation, especially among the young. Morality crusaders attacked obscene
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This note was uploaded on 09/13/2009 for the course SWMS 210gm taught by Professor Marciniak during the Spring '07 term at USC.

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Rubin - Thinking Sex - 266 Patricia Murphy Robinson Press...

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