The Pleasure's All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex

Author(s): Julie Peakman

History | No Category | Reaktion Books

Homosexuals, transvestites, transsexuals, sado-masochists, necrophiliacs - all of these have been, or still are, considered 'deviants'. Concomitantly there has been almost universal acceptance that unembellished vaginal penetration, performed by one man and one woman, is 'normal' sex. This is now contested. But what is perverse sex and what isn't? The Pleasure's All Mine explores the gamut of sexual activity that has been seen as strange, abnormal or deviant over the last 2,000 years. This first comprehensive history of sexual perversion examines an abundance of original sources - letters, diaries, memoirs, court records, erotic books, medical texts and advice manuals - and shows how, for ordinary people, different kinds of sex have always offered myriad different pleasures. There never was a 'normal'. Almost all sexual behaviours have travelled to and fro along a continuum of proscription and acceptance. Attitudes have changed towards masturbation, leatherwear, 'golden showers' and sado-masochism.From the specialized cultures of pain, necrophilia and bestiality to the social world of plushies and furries, and lovers of life-sized sex dolls, some previously acceptable behaviour now provokes social outrage, while activities as diverse as sodomy and wife-swapping have moved on the spectrum of acceptance from sin to harmless fun.
Each 'perversion' is explored from the time it was first visible in history, to how it is viewed today, and along the way the book asks why we can be so intolerant of other people's sexual preferences. Carefully researched as well as a fascinating read, and featuring a wide array of illustrations, The Pleasure's All Mine reaches conclusions that are surprising and sometimes shocking. This is an essential volume for anyone interested in the art, history and culture of sex.


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'For those with an erudite interest in debauchery, this latest from author, historian, and sex scholar Peakman is just the ticket... Peakman's broad overview is stunning, sweeping, and very carefully nonjudgmental. She recounts the history of each so-called perversion from its earliest recorded occurrence through the present, showing how the shifting mores of society color our views on this endlessly fascinating subject ... Exhaustively researched and packed with startling images, this work is a fact-filled, entertaining read for sex history neophytes and scholars alike.' - Library Journal 'Throughout history, sexual norms have shifted drastically: an act that is seen as deviant at one time may be widely accepted at another. Peakman argues that sexual acts have not changed much through the ages, but the cultural response to them has. Today, discussions about sexual preferences are still taboo in many parts of the world, and many opinions are still colored by society's long-held beliefs ... This is a history for the general reader, primarily covering Western thought; it's also a wonderful reference source for sexual studies and research ... Peakman asks readers to think about how society dictates their own opinions, and her work helps pave the way for more open discussions of sexuality in the future.' - Publishers' Weekly 'Serious, historically informed, and as close to an exhaustive account as we are likely ever to see of the extravagant creativity that humans have invested in sex. A masterpiece.' - Thomas W. Laqueur, Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

Julie Peakman is a historian, author and broadcaster. She is author or editor of many books including Mighty Lewd Books: The Development of Pornography in Eighteenth-century England (2003), Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth Century (2004), Sexual Perversions 1650 - 1890 (2009) and A Cultural History of Sexuality (2010).

General Fields

  • : 9781780236759
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : Reaktion Books
  • : October 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Julie Peakman
  • : Paperback
  • : 472