Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire

The raging frenzy of the sex drive, to use Plato s phrase, has always defied control However, that s not to say that the Sumerians, Victorians, and every civilization in between and beyond have not tried, wielding their most formidable weapon the law At any given point in time, some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly Jump forward or bacThe raging frenzy of the sex drive, to use Plato s phrase, has always defied control However, that s not to say that the Sumerians, Victorians, and every civilization in between and beyond have not tried, wielding their most formidable weapon the law At any given point in time, some forms of sex were condoned while others were punished mercilessly Jump forward or backward a century or two and often far less than that , and the harmless fun of one time period becomes the gravest crime in another Sex and Punishment tells the story of the struggle throughout the millennia to regulate the most powerful engine of human behavior.Writer and lawyer Eric Berkowitz uses flesh and blood cases much flesh and even blood to evoke the entire sweep of Western sex law, from the savage impalement of an Ancient Mesopotamian adulteress to the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde in 1895 for gross indecency The cast of Sex and Punishment is as varied as the forms taken by human desire itself royal mistresses, gay charioteers, medieval transvestites, lonely goat lovers, prostitutes of all stripes, London rent boys Each of them had forbidden sex, and each was judged and justice, as Berkowitz shows, rarely had much to do with it With the light touch of a natural storyteller, Berkowitz spins these tales and , going behind closed doors to reveal the essential history of human desire.
Sex and Punishment Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire The raging frenzy of the sex drive to use Plato s phrase has always defied control However that s not to say that the Sumerians Victorians and every civilization in between and beyond have not tr

  • Title: Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire
  • Author: Eric Berkowitz
  • ISBN: 9781582437965
  • Page: 335
  • Format: Hardcover
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      Posted by:Eric Berkowitz
      Published :2018-05-02T06:53:03+00:00

    About the Author

    Eric Berkowitz

    Eric Berkowitz is a writer, lawyer and journalist He is the author of Sex and Punishment Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire He has a degree in print journalism from University of Southern California and has published in The Los Angeles Times and The Los Angeles Weekly, and for the Associated Press He was an editor of the West Coast s premier daily legal publication, The Los Angeles Daily Journal He lives in San Francisco.

    863 Comment

    • Warwick said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      In March 1320, eleven-year-old Joan Seler was playing outside her father's house in central London when she was grabbed by a passing French merchant. The assailant dragged her back to his place, where, according to trial testimony, heraised the clothes of the same Joan…to her navel, she being clothed in a blue coat and a shift of light cloth and feloniously…with both his hands separated the legs and thighs of this same Joan, and with his right hand took his male organ of such and such a leng [...]

    • Jim said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      I'll admit itis book had me in stitches. Just imagining a cuckolded husband publicly and legally pounding scorpion fish and radishes up the rectum of his wife's paramour had me practically in tears. I couldn't help but picture the people sitting around the boardroom table drawing up a list of items that could be legally breech-loaded into an adulterer. Radishes? Please spare me! And the fellow who confessed to having carnal knowledge of a cow, a goat, and a.!?!! He should take his show on the ro [...]

    • Emma Sea said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      This was a dnf for me at page 68. I don't like the tone of the writing, and there's no analysis of the content, but I'm already familiar with the content itself, so there feels like no reason to continue. Maybe a good book for someone just out of high school, who has no idea that sexual mores were different in other eras.

    • Doreen said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      For those who need to know exactly what the mores of a particular time was, this is a good source book.It also confirms my long-held opinion that it was rarely a good time to be female.

    • Kharah said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      It's sort of ironic that there are three naked women on the cover when pretty much all of the book's material is about historical white-male sexual insecurities and the laws that arose to keep them "on top." A giant phallus would probably have been more a propos but, ironic again, that likely would not have gone over well given current obscenity sensibilities. Well worth the read, although you can tell by the material's treatment that this was definitely written by a lawyer. Other books go over [...]

    • Scott Rhee said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      It pretty much all started with Adam and Eve and that damn apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Life was perfect until then, but humans had to go f*** things up by discovering---well, you know: SEX. For millenia and since the dawn of time, sex has been a four-letter word, having been the cause of so much joy and misery. Mostly misery. That's why humans created laws. No, seriously: the first recorded law (Sumerian, circa 2100 B.C.) was a law that stated that married women caught [...]

    • Caroline said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      This book traces the ways in which society has judged and controlled sexual behaviour, beginning over four thousand years ago in ancient Egypt and closing with Oscar Wilde's trial in 1895. As the author himself states in his opening, to attempt to investigate the twentieth and twenty-first centuries would have required another book.It's a fascinating book, looking at changing attitudes and responses towards all manner of sexual behaviour - masturbation, necrophilia, adultery, abortion, prostitut [...]

    • spacenaiads said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      It was fun and stuff but some of the sources used (especially in the ancient section) were a bit questionable, which is FINE, it's just that if you want to use Herodotus or Suetonius you HAVE to add a disclaimer that you can trust them only about as far as you can throw the Oxford Latin Dictionary. The full edition in the "reference only" section which is A3 size and as thick as a brick and lists 23 different types of "ut". That one. Also there was an introduction but no concluding chapter! It's [...]

    • Samantha said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Very good, though you want to make sure you've assessed the crowd before showing off your newly gained trivia. It's not for work meetings or brunch with mom.

    • Book said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz“Sex and Punishment” is the fascinating four-thousand year history of mainly western society’s attempt to control sexuality through the law. This eye-opening book covers a wide spectrum of societal sexual manifestations up until the end of the 19th century. Writer, lawyer and journalist, Eric Berkowitz takes the reader on a voyeuristic ride into humankind’s obsession to control sex via the law. With countless in-d [...]

    • Alex Sarll said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      A history of sex laws from the pre-Hammurabi legal codes of the Middle East to the Wilde trial, written by a lawyer with ample experience in the field. As well as being on the side of the angels (or rather, not - religion is, inevitably, one of the chief villains here) he's also a writer with style and verve. There are moments of repetition, but I suspect they mainly serve to make individual segments worth reading even for students or specialists who aren't going to attempt the whole book. Thoug [...]

    • Deirdre said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Interesting look at Sex and the control of it over the years. Starts with ancient history and moves to the late 19th early 20th century. It concentrates on western culture and the effect Christianity had on pre-existing European culture after looking at Classical Greek and Roman society. A mess was made of various societies by the attempt to control people and their reactions to people they are attracted to.Sex and sexuality is complicated and we still haven't resolved a lot of our issues with i [...]

    • Lea said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Interesting book. As a law student I appreciated the legal research. I could have given it 4 stars but the way the author tries soooooo hard to make us sympathize with Polanski just made me mad as hell. He keeps bringing up the case over and over again and EVERY TIME trying to justify Polanski's conduct. No thanks.

    • Ana Rînceanu said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      I really liked the author's writing style. It made the law parts easy to understand and infused the sex parts (pun) with humor. The book tackles how sex, marriage and depictions of sex were regulated from ancient times to Oscar Wilde's trial.

    • Rafel said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      I don't usually read nonfiction but this one was super interesting and full of horrific history.

    • coconutcake said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      This book was very enlightening. It helped me understand the majority of world population have been ignorant assholes over the last 4000 years and pretty much nothing has changed until the 20th century. And %95 of the world still live like that. I never quite understood exactly when and why those with penises started seeing those with vaginas inferior. It drives me pretty fucking mad. Also, I get that in ancient times people thought they could contol sex and tell people to or not to do it, but I [...]

    • Maxine said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Endlessly fascinating and through exploration of sexuality and law, useful and worth an in-depth read. The author sometimes wanders from explicitly sexual subjects to analyze other aspects of historical society, such as slavery and citizenship, but the inclusion of Native Americans, colonized Asians, and lesbians (among others) sets this book apart. The author is forthcoming in his attempt to be an entirely objective/amoral observer of sexual phenomena, but this leads to a sometimes disturbingly [...]

    • Eric Stone said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      A lot of great research went into this. It's always remarkable to me how much we know about ancient societies and their daily lives, sexual habits, etc. People have been reporting on themselves since just about the beginning. I was a bit disappointed that the book didn't really bring us up to date - ending somewhere around the the turn of the 19th-20th century. And I was also disappointed that it completely ignored the same subject outside of what we think of as the Western World. Then again, it [...]

    • Grace said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      An incredibly interesting book.This well written and exhaustively researched text is easily accessible and covers laws and the enforcing of them from Roman and Greek times up until the 1960s.The author manages to present all the information in such a way that he shows what else was happening at the time so you get a well rounded picture of the culture during the different periods explored.It doesn't shy away from the horrible punishments, the blatant sexism of the European and early American wit [...]

    • Erman Cagiral said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Kitap antik dünyadaki ilk hukuk yasalarından 20. yy başına kadar geçen sürede insanoğlunun cinsel ilişkiye bakış açısını inceliyor. Yasalar ve dava sonuçlarından anlaşılır örnekler vererek ilerlediği için oldukça anlaşılır bir inceleme diyebilirim.Sadece yıllar ilerledikçe insanların benzer cinsel yönelimlere benzer cezaları verdiğini bilmek kitabin akıcılığını zedelemiş.Cinsel ilişkinin sami dinler ile birlikte bastırılmaya başlaması ve sonrasında bu [...]

    • Vishal Misra said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      "Sex & Punishment" is a very easy and compelling read. Whilst Berkowitz's account leaves much to be desired in terms of historical analysis, his writing style and ability to condense some 4 millenia of sex laws in to an eminently readable book is itself laudable. Overall, "Sex & Punishment" charts the origins and developments of Western sex laws. Starting out with the Code of Hammurabi, Berkowitz begins his analysis of exactly who could commit sex offences, and who could be victims of th [...]

    • Alex Clare said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      This is a terrifying book because it presents what man has done to (mainly) women, children and other men in the name of morality. Facts are presented objectively which makes the situations described even more horrific. This is a good book lest we question why we need equality in society.

    • Maureen said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Five stars for being one of the most readable and wide-spanning history books I've read and one that I'm likely to return to. It's not perfect - some of the analysis is questionable or handled with too light a touch - but it's certainly given me plenty of filthy tidbits to throw into conversation.

    • Andrew said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Solid research, and thoroughly focused on the legal aspect. Doesn't probe the perpetrators context, and often seems to apply current notions of acceptability to past norms. The effect is one of condemning those on the wrong side of history to incomprehensibility and ridicule.

    • Holly Cruise said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      As an easy to read primer on the history of European and American legislation of sex and sexuality, this succeeds in offering a good overview, clearly written and packed with colourful examples. In this vein it was an interesting, if not always enjoyable read, although that wasn't the fault of Berkowitz, more the fact that being horrific to women, non-heterosexuals and non-whites is pretty much the done thing in most areas of white European/American history. And yes, I did get rather annoyed at [...]

    • Yupa said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Divulgativo, molto divulgativo, forse troppo divulgativo.Disordinato e zibaldonesco, spesso anche ripetitivo.L'autore, a quanto pare avvocato e giornalista, affronta una materia complessa che meriterebbe ben altre conoscenze, possibilmente approfondite, in primis di antropologia, sociologia, psicologia e biologia evolutiva; come se non bastasse ambisce a percorrere in poco più di quattrocento pagine ben quattromila anni di StoriaInevitabilmente la parte che soffre di più è la storia antica, c [...]

    • Elizabeth said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      from the libraryfrom the library computer:Table of Contents Introduction 1 (9)1 Channeling The Urge: The First Sex Laws10 (46)2 Honor Among (Mostly) Men: Cases From Ancient Greece56 (30)3 Imperial Bedrooms: Sex And The State In Ancient Rome86 (37)4 The Middle Ages: A Crowd Condemned123 (51)5 Groping Toward Modernity: The Early Modern Period, 1500-1700174 (57)6 The New World Of Sexual Opportunity231 (42)7 The Eighteenth Century: Revelation And Revolution273 (55)8 The Nineteenth Century: Human Nat [...]

    • Orion said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Disputes over sexual behavior are not new, nor is our attempt to use the legal system to resolve differences involving sex. But Eric Berkowitz has looked at the legal disputes involving sex and has found that the behavior considered a crime and the punishments administered to those found guilty have varied quite a lot. Not only over time, and he has decided to look at a 4,000 year time period, but also between different cultures of the same time, what is considered criminal sexual behavior can v [...]

    • Paul Cook said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Eric Berkowitz, an attorney, mines many centuries of legal records to explore how various societies in the West have controlled, or attempted to control, the myriad expressions of human sexuality. The story is told mostly by way of examples that range across categories of the repugnant, cruel, hilarious, and surprising. In colonial New England, bestiality laws required severe punishment not only of the human perpetrators--the violated animals had to be killed. One particular violator couldn't re [...]

    • Maxie said:
      Aug 21, 2018 - 06:53 AM

      Now this books sounds like it should be really kinky or really boring but it's neither. It's a big ol' look at the way that attitudes towards sex have changed, at least since we humans started to record and regulate ourselves. Much of the ways our sensibilities have evolved are going to be common knowledge to you, really. It's a sad open secret that often other humans have been property and that they've had to suffer for that.I thought that this book would give a sense of about when in time sex [...]

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