Sex. Sexy sex. Sex. Let’s talk about sex. When it comes to sex we mere mortals seem to be a little confused what the proper attire should be. Should we feel embarrassed and shy, not daring to whisper its name? Or should we be more confident and less judgemental when it comes to the ins and outs of sex? What is this strange stigma that surrounds sex? Have we always been like this?
Today I am extremely honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for A Curious History Of Sex (Published 6th Feb 2020) By Kate Lister. A big thank you to the publishers Unbound for my copy to review, always appreciated. And also to the wonderful Anne for the invite, thank you. Right, lets get stuck in dear reader…no pun intended.
About The Author
Dr Kate Lister is a lecturer at Leeds Trinity University, where she researches the history of sexuality and curates the online research project Whores of Yore. Kate is also a columnist for iNews, Vice and the Wellcome Trust where she writes about the history of sex. Kate won a Sexual Freedom Award for Publicist of the Year in 2017.
A Curious History Of Sex
This is not a comprehensive study of every sexual quirk, kink and ritual across all cultures throughout time, as that would entail writing an encyclopaedia. Rather, this is a drop in the ocean, a paddle in the shallow end of sex history, but I hope you will get pleasantly wet nonetheless.
The act of sex has not changed since people first worked out what went where, but the ways in which society dictates how sex is culturally understood and performed have varied significantly through the ages. Humans are the only creatures that stigmatise particular sexual practices, and sex remains a deeply divisive issue around the world. Attitudes will change and grow hopefully for the better but sex will never be free of stigma or shame unless we acknowledge where it has come from.
Based on the popular research project Whores of Yore, and written with her distinctive humour and wit, A Curious History of Sex draws upon Dr Kate Lister’s extensive knowledge of sex history. From medieval impotence tests to twentieth-century testicle thefts, from the erotic frescoes of Pompeii, to modern-day sex doll brothels, Kate unashamedly roots around in the pants of history, debunking myths, challenging stereotypes and generally getting her hands dirty.
This fascinating book is peppered with surprising and informative historical slang, and illustrated with eye-opening, toe-curling and meticulously sourced images from the past.
You will laugh, you will wince and you will wonder just how much has actually changed.
I have a confession dear reader. I am a confidently sexual woman. I am not of the norm according to our society. I LOVE sex. Society should take more pride that, yes we enjoy sex. Of course that’s not to say you should go around shoving it in people’s faces, just be comfortable with what you enjoy. So naturally when I heard about this beast of book I HAD to read it and WOW: mind-blowing.
This titillating book is based upon a research project titled, Whores Of Yore. Dr Kate Lister calls upon her fascinating knowledge of the history of sex. But just to be clear dear reader it is not a front to back cover of everything to do with sex and doesn’t preach to be. This is just a small appetiser teasing your tastebuds in anticipation for the main course. Lister guides the reader through the erotic shenanigans of Pompeii to twentieth-century testicle theft and draws comparisons to today’s society with our sex doll brothels. Myths are tested and stereotypes are challenged, it’s a messy job so prepare to get wet…
‘Humans are also the only creatures that stigmatise, punish and create shame around their sexual desires. While all animals have courtship rituals, no wildebeest has ever gone into therapy because it’s struggling to express a latex fetish.’
Lister’s writing is a breath of fresh air. She is unashamed to talk about all things taboo when it comes to sex. And I love it! It’s honest, straight to the point and natural. She has the incredible ability to make you laugh one minute before wincing and cringing the next. Her writing style is informative and humorous as your mind is opened up to the surprising, enjoyable and curious history of sex.
‘There’s no denying it: food and sex are two pleasures intimately connected in the human psyche. Admittedly, literally mixing the two (or ‘sploshing’, to use the vernacular) can lead to a steep dry-cleaning bill and a lifetime ban from the salad bar at Pizza Hut, but the point remains: food is sexy.’
I learned a lot from this book. Bread was made with genitalia, yes genitalia! (Don’t think Greggs would approve) The tragic fate of Dutch lesbians who were burned between 1400-1500 in the Netherlands. The many ways to fake being a virgin and how women were told not to ride bikes as they could be getting off on it too much. The creative use of a root vegetable as a dildo and then the invention of the first vibrator, that frankly looks a little scary. We already have sex robots causing a stir, I’m curious what the future holds for sex. Flying sex robots? Virtual sex like in Demolition Man? The possibilities are endless. I absorbed so much fascinating information, it was delicious.
‘The clitoris is a truly magnificent organ, and one that is still mysterious – why can some women orgasm through penetration and others can’t. Exactly how does all the equipment work together to produce an orgasm? But here is what we do know: the clitoris is the only organ on the human body that has no other purpose than to bring pleasure. It has 8,000 nerve endings, double the amount in the glans of the penis, and almost 75 per cent of women need to have their glans clitoris (the external part) stimulated to orgasm. It has taken us a long time to get here, and there is still work to be done. But we are finally beginning to see just how important the clitoris is in sexual fulfilment.’
I love the empowerment this book brings. Lister argues her case of how we should reclaim the word cunt. Yes, I know, the almighty C word. But her arguments are justified as she shows us that language is forever evolving. It is baffling but interesting to read how we can’t seem to make up our mind on where we stand when it comes to sex.
The illustrations and images are sourced from history and they put into perspective just how much has actually changed. I found myself gawking thinking ‘How is that possible?’ and ‘OUCH’ But also admiring the beauty that is the naked body and how unique each one is. The images and Lister’s writing are effective and bind the whole book together giving the reader an experience to remember.
‘So, we must keep talking about sex. We must keep educating children about sex, and not just about what happens when a sperm gets its hands on an egg. We must talk about consent, pleasure, masturbation, pornography, love, relationships and our own bodies. Because the only way we will dispel shame is to drag sex out in the open and have a good long look at it. History has shown us how damaging the shaming sexual practices in all their myriad forms, can be. Let’s learn the lesson.’
I give A Curious History Of Sex By Kate Lister a Five out of Five paw rating
YES! YES! YES! OH MY GOD YES! This book is just orgasmic! Lister shows us how much our attitude has changed towards sex over the years. From being a thing of pure pleasure to a dirty little secret, this book gives us the chance to reclaim our sexual history, learn from our mistakes and take confident, positive steps forward in teaching others. Let’s dispense with the shame towards sex and embrace it, enjoy it and be open to discussion. I applaud you, Kate for this inspiring book and empowering words. Here’s to you *cheers*
Don’t forget to follow the rest of the blog tour, dates below, enjoy!
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