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The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities
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Counterpoint Press 2015
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"A bracing look at the often-strange relationship between sexuality and the legal system over six tumultuous decades" (Booklist). Society's acceptance of sex and the grasp of its many variables are in constant flux. Switch a decade, cross a border, or traverse class lines and the harmless pleasures of one group become the gravest crimes in another. Combining meticulous research and lively storytelling, this "eye-opening history of sexual legislation" traces the fast-moving blood sport of sex law over the past century. It challenges our most cherished notions about family, power, gender, and identity, and proves that nothing sparks intolerance—on the left and the right—more than sex (Publishers Weekly Starred Review). Starting when courts censored birth control information as pornography and let men rape their wives, and continuing through the "sexual revolution" and into the present day (when sexual assault, gay rights, sex trafficking, and sex on the internet saturate the news), legal scholar Eric Berkowitz explores how the law has remained out of synch with the convulsive changes in sexual morality. "In lively, passionate prose, [he] shows how irrational, unjust, and destructive even well-intentioned attempts to legislate lust can be. This controversial book is as mind-blowing as it is heart-opening" (Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn).
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Street Date:
08/01/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781619026469
ASIN:
B011H52X9W
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APA Citation (style guide)

Eric Berkowitz. (2015). The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities. Counterpoint Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Eric Berkowitz. 2015. The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities. Counterpoint Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Eric Berkowitz, The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities. Counterpoint Press, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Eric Berkowitz. The Boundaries of Desire: A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities. Counterpoint Press, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Eric Berkowitz's lengthy career as a lawyer, journalist and writer has been marked by both meticulous scholarship and uncompromising advocacy. An active intellectual property, First Amendment and business litigator, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, California Lawyer, and The Washington Post, as well as websites such as
        Huffington Post, AlterNet and Salon. He has been interviewed widely for radio and television including for the History Channel's recent 9-partseries, “How Sex Changed the World." He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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The Boundaries of Desire
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"A bracing look at the often-strange relationship between sexuality and the legal system over six tumultuous decades" (Booklist).

Society's acceptance of sex and the grasp of its many variables are in constant flux. Switch a decade, cross a border, or traverse class lines and the harmless pleasures of one group become the gravest crimes in another. Combining meticulous research and lively storytelling, this "eye-opening history of sexual legislation" traces the fast-moving blood sport of sex law over the past century. It challenges our most cherished notions about family, power, gender, and identity, and proves that nothing sparks intolerance—on the left and the right—more than sex (Publishers Weekly Starred Review).

Starting when courts censored birth control information as pornography and let men rape their wives, and continuing through the "sexual revolution" and into the present day (when sexual assault, gay rights, sex trafficking, and sex on the internet saturate the news), legal scholar Eric Berkowitz explores how the law has remained out of synch with the convulsive changes in sexual morality. "In lively, passionate prose, [he] shows how irrational, unjust, and destructive even well-intentioned attempts to legislate lust can be. This controversial book is as mind-blowing as it is heart-opening" (Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn).
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Slate
      • content: "Because sexual conventions tend to shape legislation rather than the reverse, sex law always lags behind our actual sex lives. As Berkowitz asserts, this leaves the former in a perpetual state of crisis. Time and time again, Berkowitz shows that sex laws are like ghosts, tormenting the living long after their own times have passed."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "A bracing look at the often-strange relationship between sexuality and the legal system over six tumultuous decades."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly Starred Review
      • content: "an eye-opening history of sexual legislation....Berkowitz makes legal history readable, not relying on the subject matter being salacious (which this book is not) but accessibly conveying sophisticated topics and complex events with the assurance of an expert....Readers will be sad to arrive at the end of this skillful piece of popular history."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Starred Review
      • content: "Sagely, Berkowitz throws some much-needed light on the still-shadowy definition of obscenity ...The author cogently exposes what he believes is "panic mentality" in many cases of rape and child molestation. As laws and mores continue to change at a rapid pace, this engaging study offers helpful historical and legal explanations."
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard A. Posner, Judge Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals; Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School; Author, Sex and Reason and A Guide to American Sex Laws
      • content: "This very well written, crisp, and clear description and analysis of American sex law deserves a wide readership. The laws relating to homosexuality, gender change, sexual activity by minors, prostitution, abortion and contraception, proof of sexual coercion and abuse, punishment (including post-release restrictions), and religious objections to various sexual activities and preferences, are disputed, confused, and conflicting, frequently obsolete, and on the whole probably too severe. The book lays out these problems concisely, and should stimulate a more active search for solutions."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships
      • content: "There may be no facet of human experience as riddled with accusation, judgment, and shame as sex. In lively, passionate prose, legal scholar Eric Berkowitz shows how irrational, unjust, and destructive even well-intentioned attempts to legislate lust can be. This controversial book is as mind-blowing as it is heart-opening."
      • premium: False
      • source: Stephanie Coontz, author of The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap
      • content: “A gripping account of how the law has enforced the sexual subordination of women, children, minorities and GLBT people -- and a thought-provoking appraisal of how new legal efforts to protect victims can backfire. In this fascinating read, Eric Berkowitz tells the human stories behind the law."
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: “A thorough (and often surprisingly hilarious) look at the people who fall outside the parameters of the sexually condoned"
      • premium: False
      • source: The Sunday London Times (lead review in book section)
      • content: “Enlightening, astounding, broad-ranging and rich in detail, exciting and impressively relentless"
      • premium: False
      • source: Sunday Mail
      • content: “Fascinating and gruesomely compelling"
      • premium: False
      • source: Tri-Quarterly Review
      • content: “Berkowitz's book in the end is a rewarding wonderland of the forbidden, and of society's attempts to keep it so, despite their inevitable failure. It is a mural sometimes done as miniature, sometimes as epic, but always with a craftsman's hand--a sprawling story told with uncommon precision and purity of expression."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Literary Review
      • content: “This is a wonderfully well-written, well-organized and accomplished book."
      • premium: False
      • source: ForeWord Reviews
      • content: “Stories of political scandal, domestic intrigue, religious intolerance, and corporeal fervor are entwined in an intricate love--or lust--knot that's difficult to put down. Berkowitz's work will be of great interest to social historians, students of human sexuality, and anyone seeking a better understanding of that age-old wrestling match between power and desire."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from June 29, 2015
        Berkowitz, a lawyer with experience in intellectual property, First Amendment, and business litigation, presents an immersive, sometimes shocking history of changing sexual mores, and the laws pertaining to them, in the U.S. He covers topics including homosexuality, pedophilia, interracial couples, and sex trafficking, maintaining a pragmatic, non-judgmental tone. The result is an eye-opening history of sexual legislation. Readers will learn of historical givens that strike us as barbaric now (such as the onetime acceptance of marital rape, not fully outlawed in the U.S. until 1993) and of controversial ongoing practices (such as the lifelong registration of minors in sex-offender registries). Berkowitz makes legal history readable, not relying on the subject matter being salacious (which this book is not) but accessibly conveying sophisticated topics and complex events with the assurance of an expert. Moreover, he ties sexual legislation to disparate historical topics, including the eugenics movement, welfare policy, and even the outbreak of WWI. Readers will be sad to arrive at the end of this skillful piece of popular history. Agent: Andrew Stuart, Stuart Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from June 15, 2015
        This follow-up to lawyer Berkowitz's Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire (2012) brings Western society's continued attempt at regulating sexual mores to the present. Sex, as the author pertinently grasps in this comprehensive survey that moves forward from around the turn of the 19th century, "burns at the intersection of existence, identity and power," and the way we regard it tells a great deal about our society. Berkowitz covers the enormous changes that have swept sex law in the categories of family and marriage; homosexuality; minors; definitions of obscenity; rape and sexual harassment; and interracial sexual relations and marriage. In each chapter, the author reveals the way that power has been gradually relinquished and fear vanquished. He explores the intractable (until a groundbreaking 1984 decision in New York) legal doctrine of what Berkowitz calls the "Rape-Your-Wife Privilege," which entitled a husband to force himself on what was legally his property; the increasing availability of birth control, which has allowed women agency over their bodies, especially significant to the health of working and poor women; the breaking of long-held stereotypes about black females being the "root cause of black poverty"; the defeat of what now appears to us astounding prejudice against "feebleminded" women who got pregnant and homosexuals as criminal and deserving of sterilization and incarceration; and how the hysterical terror of the sex offender prompted draconian residence-restriction laws. Sagely, Berkowitz throws some much-needed light on the still-shadowy definition of obscenity (for example, in public performance), pornography ("sexting" by minors, Clarence Thomas' record of porn-video rentals), and, especially, "the limits of consent" (what constitutes rape in the college setting and who should deal with it). The author cogently exposes what he believes is "panic mentality" in many cases of rape and child molestation. As laws and mores continue to change at a rapid pace, this engaging study offers helpful historical and legal explanations.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2015
        In this erudite volume, lawyer and journalist Berkowitz examines in meticulous and fascinating detail a dizzying number of issues related to sexuality and the law: women's rights, gay rights, birth control, the eugenics movement, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the legalization of abortion, obscenity and the arts, rape and sexual harassment, and prostitution and sex trafficking. Berkowitz is especially interested in addressing sexuality in terms of the power of the strong over the bodies of the weak; hence, his investigations into Jews in Hitler's Germany killed for having German lovers, African Americans lynched for having relationships with whites, homosexuals forced to undergo lobotomies in mental hospitals as a cure, and sexting teenagers imprisoned as child pornographers. As Berkowitz points out, the law often lags behind social mores and behaviors. It adjusts too slowly to changing social norms and clings too tightly to noxious rules, he writes, citing antimiscegenation laws and Rape-Your-Wife Privilege as two of the most egregious examples. A bracing look at the often-strange relationship between sexuality and the legal system over six tumultuous decades.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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"A bracing look at the often-strange relationship between sexuality and the legal system over six tumultuous decades" (Booklist).

Society's acceptance of sex and the grasp of its many variables are in constant flux. Switch a decade, cross a border, or traverse class lines and the harmless pleasures of one group become the gravest crimes in another. Combining meticulous research and lively storytelling, this "eye-opening history of sexual legislation" traces the fast-moving blood sport of sex law over the past century. It challenges our most cherished notions about family, power, gender, and identity, and proves that nothing sparks intolerance—on the left and the right—more than sex (Publishers Weekly Starred Review).

Starting when courts censored birth control information as pornography and let men rape their wives, and continuing through the "sexual revolution" and into the present day (when sexual assault, gay rights,...
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A Century of Bad Laws, Good Sex, and Changing Identities
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Counterpoint Press