The book of “The major problems on the history of American Sexuality” by Kathy Peiss is a book that explores the history of sexuality in the United States. The author of the book maintains that the book does not view the U.S as not progressive jump from repression to freedom. Instead, Sexuality has been concomitantly remolded in every phase in a manner that reflects the dictates of economics, the structure of the family and lastly on political grounds. This interpretive framework lends coherence to sweeping surveyed individuals with anti-prostitution crusaders and free love advocates, as well as vice cops and sexologists.
In this book Kathy, Peiss, (pp, 6) has done a very encouraging work of writing and aiding with the presentation of an accurate description of sexual practices in United States of America as well as including the general historical perception. This book also represents an obvious but extremely complicated undertaking. According to the perception in the early America, it was believed that the deterrent to pre-marital sex was the fear of unwanted pregnancies and the consequences that are associated with the social set up.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that sexual desire was always there for both men and women, regardless of the social class or how people relate to one another. Restrictions over casual sex were based on the willingness of the family and the general control of the community. Sex before marriage was not permitted to be done by just anybody. This was considered as sacred and was only allowed to those who are married but with the aim of procreating. This book expresses the knowledge concerning how sex was to be practiced in the community in general. In practice however, this sexual taboo was mostly applied to women in the United States but contrary to this women had choice of doing or not engaging into this field.
In the book we also find that in 1915, a woman announced that she was returning to America to surrender and stand trial on the charges against her. But we also notice that as soon as the courts heard of this, all charges against the woman were dropped; the bureaucrats feared her like no other woman. Sexuality is revealed to be one of the things that best suit the adults and in that case, in the American society sex was treated as a sacred thing that anyone could not engage into.
The book also reveals that for the first time in the history of the American society, women got reliable birth control devices, and could begin to enjoy sex outside of marriage, without fear, just as surely as men did. By the end of the century, which came with the need of leveling sexual playing field, female counterparts were looking for means of being treated as required. The two World Wars, one in 1914 and the other in 1941, would provide the answers for the women whether to engage in this field of sexuality (Kathy, Peiss, pp, 12).
The book also gives a comprehensive analysis of the History of sexuality in the American society. The author brings this out clearly through an engaging and thoughtful style of narrative. The book can really be useful to the professional researchers as well as historians since it entails all the required or existing literature review. Nonetheless, it will also prove to be quite interesting even to the casual reader.
Basically, the book itself presents to the reader a broad descriptive introduction to the history of sexuality and reproduction draining from the phase of colonialists to the current undertakings. The book also provides a clear argument that is well established and transitioned. Through the author, we come to realize that sexuality in the colonial phase did go through various phases and in that context the writer indicates that it went through three distinct phases.
It begins by the first era which we are told that is in the family governed sexuality in the colonial era to a more personalized but conservative sexuality in the 19th Century and lastly to our era of comparative sexual freedom. The last era we are told by the writer that it is often ruled by consumerist values or code of conduct in the 20th Century. Apart from all the things that have been discussed above concerning the book, it clear through the language used by the writer that the book is also easy to understand and simply fun to read.
The book also uses the language that might be considered objectionable by some, but the words used by the writer appear to have already been used by other authors from contemporary historical sources. In this manner, the author aims at presenting to the author the image that sexuality was viewed in the past. This is one of the best books that discuss the theme of sexuality in the gone era and in the present context (Kathy, Peiss, pp, 76).
Lastly, I would wish to conclude by saying that the book represents an irony of historical writing is that sexuality one of the most important factors in everyone’s lives is perhaps the least discussed. The book also discusses gender relations, the purpose of sexual intercourse and the meaning of marriage which is considered to shape the daily lives of many adults, but in contrast most historians are usually ignorant of such issues. Now, this kind of oversight is rectified by an excellent survey of sexuality in the American society from colonial days to the 1980s. The commercialization of sex, the use of sex and a means of social control and the search for its place in the lives of people generally have been presented in this book and readability.