January 28, 2019 | Sex & Society

Explaining "How Sex Got Screwed Up"

How Sex Got Screwed UpThere really isn't much in life as interesting as sex. Not just sex as an act, but also sex as a topic of conversation. What people get up to in the bedroom is the meat and potatoes of gossip blogs, church confessionals and banter between close friends.

We all do it. We all think about it. But what we may not know is why, for something so natural, we can be such prudes about it.

Author Jon Knowles has made it his mission to find out exactly "how sex got screwed up," creating a two volume work that explores the interesting, often troubling, history of humanity's relationship with sex. 

According to his online biography, Knowles’s interest in sex and society really started in 1981 as the AIDS pandemic hit North America. He was actually on the front line dealing with the crisis, trained by Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) to care for people living with AIDs in New York City. He saw how messed up views on sexuality increased the suffering of those dealing with the illness.
He has also worked for several decades with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), often hearing firsthand how people cope with their sexuality and sex lives in a modern society.
According to his bio: "In his research, Knowles looked to find answers to the questions: Why health professionals saw sexuality mostly as a risk behavior? Why most people seemed ambiguous about their sex lives? And why the increasingly powerful, conservative right was so negative about human sexuality?"
With 22 years of research under his belt, he is ready to share the answers in How Sex Got Screwed Up: The Ghosts That Haunt Our Sexual Pleasure.
"In these books, I criticize, ridicule, and even lampoon some very hallowed and beloved doctors, cultural commentators, organizations, philosophers, politicians, religious leaders, saints, and scientists," he warns. "I call to account the hallowed and beloved only for their misguided teachings on these two subjects -- teachings that I believe have added difficulty to our lives and made them less pleasant."
"You may get disconcerted from time to time reading about the overwhelming, punitive powers of those obsessed with making sex a negative and sinful expression of human nature, but I guarantee you will never be bored," wrote Carol Cassell Ph.D about the book. "Knowles’ keen sense of observation and straightforward prose is often humorous and you are likely to find yourself chuckling at the missteps of those who (still) try to restrain the forces of sexual desire."
From corsets to chastity belts to Lysol as birth control, the book covers the full history of our relationship with all forms of sex and just how strange, wonderful and messed up it can be. And the plethora of odd facts and historical tidbits will definitely make you the most interesting person at brunch!  

A good chunk of the book is available at Google Books, and you can order a copy of the two-volume set here

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