A fresh and theoretically enticing approach to the study of human sexuality.
Abramson (Psychology/UCLA), a leading authority on human sexuality, and colleague Pinkerton address the "long-standing tension between the procreative and the pleasurable aspects of sex.'' They see sexual pleasure as part of the evolution of the human species. That is, pleasure and the diversity of sexual activity it inspires, such as oral sex and homosexual relations, are actually advantageous to the survival of the species, since too much reproductive sex can be as dangerous as too little. They see pleasure as the motivating force behind reproductive sex, "but the impetus it provides is not specific to reproductive sex.'' They assert that bodies are made for pleasure, both biologically and psychologically, from hormones and pleasure centers in the brain to wide cultural variations in sexual behaviors. As must anyone discussing sex today, the authors confront and question current conceptions about AIDS: The widely accepted equation Sex = AIDS must be replaced with the equation Sex = Pleasure, they say. Although their criticisms of the anti-porn crusades are legitimate, they dismiss feminist concerns a bit too easily. By confusing human capacity for pleasure with the actuality of pleasure, they mask tremendous inequities experienced in many sexual relationships. Pornography expresses ideas mostly about nonreproductive sex, so by their logic porn must be accessible to those who desire nonreproductive alternatives. The evolutionary theory of sexual pleasure loses some punch with their predictions for the future. Envisioning a world where cybersex is the norm and sex has nothing at all to do with reproduction can be alienating and raises questions about the relationship between pleasure and human bonding.
Sure to spark intense debate among those concerned with the study of human sexuality.