SEXUALITY AND HOMOSEXUALITY: A New View by Arno Karlen

SEXUALITY AND HOMOSEXUALITY: A New View

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author's effort to bring empirical detachment and five years' study to bear on ""the sexual revolution"" has produced a big, rather slick, anything but rigorous compilation of Western sexual history, cross-cultural data, interviews and sexological investigations. The earthily rendered historical survey gives special attention to homosexuality and male prostitution while insisting that Greece, Rome and the Renaissance were not widely and beautifully pansexual; nineteenth-century myths, proto-science and social practice are followed by reviews of Bieber, Kinsey, behaviorist therapy for homosexuals, and a vulgarized summary of Freud. The book is arbitrarily interspersed with interviews: Dayton homosexuals, a proctologist, Albert Ellis, lesbians, students, the anthropologist Davenport et al. Karlen's casually recurrent theses include the view that homosexuality is neither healthy nor increasing so much as we may think; that in the past it was associated with degraded, super-domesticated women, and today, though it's ""a compulsion, not a choice,"" it can be cured. As for sexual liberation in general, ""four-letter words, mini-skirts and public nudity don't necessarily mean that many people act very differently in bed."" These plausible enough statements are too often reinforced with unconvincing and/or underdeveloped particulars: Shakespeare wasn't bisexual period, there is no homosexuality among animals, we are ""wired for"" traditional sex roles, etc., etc. And there is a good deal of conceptual sloppiness: Karlen occasionally invokes but fails to employ systematically, the distinctions between gender role and sex behavior, homosexual acts and identity, while hypotheses concerning passivity-dependency-competition problems in relation to homosexuality are insufficiently elaborated. The book has no positive argument sharp enough for cause-celebrity, but its wealth of anecdotes and interviews will engross, if not reward, the general readership it will undoubtedly attract.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1971
Publisher: Norton