THE MODERNIZATION OF SEX by Paul Robinson

THE MODERNIZATION OF SEX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sexology as intellectual history. Robinson treats the ""sexual modernists""--Havelock Ellis, Kinsey and Masters and Johnson--strictly as theoreticians, ignoring practical and biographical considerations and analyzing their ideas and assumptions in much the same way scholars approach philosophers or theologians. It makes for a fascinating investigation. In full revolt against the ""sexual terrorism"" of the Victorians, the modernists are all champions of ""sexual democracy."" Tolerant of the practices Kraft-Ebbing called perversions, their work, as a body, strives toward incorporating homosexuality, fetishism, masturbation, et al., well within the ""normal."" Robinson identifies Ellis' ""libidinal economy""--he saw sex as a closed energy system; Kinsey, he notes, went so far in his generous acceptance of variety that he even ""put in a good word for child molesters,"" though a more crucial concern was sexual style as a function of social class. (""Put grossly. . . the poor copulated while the rich masturbated."") Placing Kinsey and Ellis firmly on ""the sexual left,"" Robinson argues that Masters and Johnson lack ideological consistency. They are the most consistent feminists (both Kinsey and Ellis were guilty of vestigial Victorianisms in their views of female sexual response), but they are also conservatives in that ""saving marriages is the ultimate objective of their therapeutic program."" In conclusion, Robinson tosses in some thoughts on sexual modernism as an ""inconclusive and jarring coexistence of both Romantic and anti-Romantic points of view."" We want to get rid of our repressions but fear the emotional emptiness of our greater freedom. Rationalizing sex and sexual attitudes is a risky business; Robinson has achieved something of a coup.

Pub Date: March 3rd, 1976
Publisher: Harper & Row