Book Review. A Curious History of Sex by Kate Lister.

Kate Lister says in the conclusion of her book A Curious History of Sex that the book could never have been a comprehensive history of sex, but it felt pretty comprehensive to me.

I liked that in the conclusion too she mentions sources tend to have come from medical texts and court recordings, actual testimonies are hard to come by. In particular when it comes to much-stigmatised sex work. I think it is important to consider those who couldn’t tell their story, the voiceless who could have been stigmatised in the society that they lived in at the time. The thought has just occurred to me: and who would have wanted to listen? And by that I mean if you’re on the margins of society, not many people take notice of you.

Subjects covered are language, fetishization, contraceptives and abortions, food, vibrators and the golden age of the bicycle, body hair and hygiene, tart cards, monkey glands (don’t eat before reading that chapter) the female orgasm and hysteria. I’m not easily shocked but the Lysol being marketed as a douching agent made me wince. The stuff you use to clean and disinfect your bins being sold to women, so that they could have a clean fanny because heaven forbid she smell bad in that area? What the fuck.

A Curious History of Sex was a fascinating read, covers a whole range of periods in history and for a history nerd, I was just enjoying learning about these things. It opens your eyes.

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