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The product of ten years' in-depth research and thought by a psychologist and sex researcher, this is indubitably an important book--thorough, lively, strong, surprising, its viewpoint astringent yet humane. It has almost as much to say about heterosexuality as homosexuality and is deficient only on the subject of women, whom Tripp seems neither to understand nor to be much interested in. Yet even the female reader, once past such sexist shoals as ""equanimity in the face of sovereign abuse is itself eminently feminine,"" will find much worth reading on the social context of sexual direction and expression. Controversy will abound as Tripp believes ""there are no instincts to guide human sexuality"" and that each individual's sexual preferences develop in unique counterpoint with environmental pressures and opportunities; diversity is his only norm (even ""promiscuity has many faces""), though he sees it as being underpinned by a few basic laws: desire is a cannibalistic coveting of qualities one wants to incorporate, whether complementary or augmenting; and sexual excitement depends on resistance, difference, alienation or taboo, ""a gap for the sexual spark to jump,"" being provided in some form by all cultures. Tripp goes on to revelatory surprises drawn from biology (every animal is programmed for the mating behavior of both sexes), anthropology (highly competitive, masculine cultures promote homosexuality), and sex research (early and strong sexual drive correlates with homosexuality). He provides an astonishing psychodynamic analysis of effeminacy (by no means common among homosexuals), describes ""how people integrate homosexuality into their lives"" (not as traumatic or extreme as commonly imagined), and takes a startling gay's-eye tour of the U.S. Government. His bold conclusion: ""society as a whole undoubtedly benefits"" from homosexuality. Sure to be discussed.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1975
Publisher: McGraw-Hill