Between the sheets: Top 10 most provocative books out this month

Sex and World Peace. Released 4/10/2012. By William R. Jankowiak.

Publisher's Description: Sex and World Peace unsettles a variety of assumptions in political and security discourse, proving the situation of women to be a vital variable in the incidence of conflict and war. The authors structure their argument around a comparison of micro-level gender violence and macro-level state peacefulness in global settings, bolstering their findings with detailed analysis. Harnessing an immense amount of data, they note discrepancies between national laws protecting women and the enforcement of those laws, abnormal sex ratios favoring males, the practice of polygamy, and inequitable family law, among other aggressions, and find that the treatment of women informs human interaction at all levels of society.

The War of the Sexes: How Conflict and Cooperation Have Shaped Men and Women from Prehistory to the Present. Released 4/29/2012. by Paul Seabright.

Publisher's Description: Drawing on biology, sociology, anthropology, and economics, Seabright shows that conflict between the sexes is, paradoxically, the product of cooperation. The evolutionary niche—the long dependent childhood—carved out by our ancestors requires the highest level of cooperative talent. But it also gives couples more to fight about. Men and women became experts at influencing one another to achieve their cooperative ends, but also became trapped in strategies of manipulation and deception in pursuit of sex and partnership. In early societies, economic conditions moved the balance of power in favor of men, as they cornered scarce resources for use in the sexual bargain. Today, conditions have changed beyond recognition, yet inequalities between men and women persist, as the brains, talents, and preferences we inherited from our ancestors struggle to deal with the unpredictable forces unleashed by the modern information economy.

Not The Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage. Released 4/24/2012. By Nicola Barker.

Publisher's Description: A comprehensive exploration of current same-sex marriage debates in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the US, providing a critical analysis of the institution of marriage asking whether and how feminist critiques might apply to same-sex marriage and combining theories of second wave feminism with insights from contemporary queer theory.

Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others. Released 4/19/2012. By Ruth Mazo Karras.

Publisher's Description: Using a wide collection of evidence from the late Antique period up until the fifteenth century, this new edition of the standard overview on the topic demonstrates that medieval culture developed sexual identities that were quite different from the identities we think of today, yet that were still in some ways ancestral to our own. Challenging the way the Middle Ages have been treated in general histories of sexuality, Karras shows how views at the time were conflicted and complicated. The well-known lusty priest and the ‘repressed’ penitent have their roles to play, but set here in a wider context these figures take on fascinating new dimensions. Focusing on acceptable marital sexual activity as well as what was seen as transgressive, the chapters cover such topics as chastity, the role of the church, and non-reproductive activity.

Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir. Released 4/24/2012. By Susie Bright.

Publisher's Description: From fearful Irish Catholic Girl Scout to gun-toting teenage revolutionary — and finally the "The Avatar of American Erotica" (The New York Times) — Bright’s life story is shaped as much by America’s sexual awakening as the national sexual landscape was altered by Bright herself. In Big Sex Little Death, Bright introduces us to her influences and experiences, including her early involvement with notorious high school radicals The Red Tide, as well as the magazine she cofounded in the 1980s, On Our Backs — which turned the lesbian and bisexual community upside down before it took the straight world by storm.

Breeding: The Human History of Heredity, Race, and Sex. Released 4/15/2012. By John Waller.

Publisher's Description: John Waller offers a look at human heredity and the often troubling conclusions different societies have drawn about it. The questions heredity provokes are legion. If characteristics are passed from parent to child, does this mean that some families are superior to others? That some races are less than fully human? That individuals can shrug off responsibility for what they do? To answer these questions, the book explores a dizzying array of topics—the Greek and Roman view of sub-human "barbarians"; the suppression of peasants in medieval Europe, and of slaves in the American plantations; ideas of class, criminality, "moral weakness," and IQ; pedigree; "bloodlines" in royalty; and much more.

Sex/Gender: Biology in a Social World. Released 4/23/2012. By Anne Fausto-Sterling.

Publisher's Description: Sex/Gender presents a relatively new way to think about how biological difference can be produced over time in response to different environmental and social experiences. This book gives explains the biological and cultural underpinnings of gender. Fausto-Sterling provides an introduction to the biochemistry, neurobiology, and social construction of gender with expertise. In addition to the basics, Sex/Gender ponders the moral, ethical, social and political side to this inescapable subject.

Sex in Art: Pornography and Pleasure in the History of Art. Released 4/2/2012. by Cassidy Hughes.

Publisher's Description: A comprehensive and detailed survey of erotic art from ancient times to the modern era. All the major erotic artists of the Western tradition are analyzed (Egon Schiele, Hans Bellmer, Thomas Rowlandson, Pablo Picasso, Titian, Jean Baptiste Dominique Ingres, Felicien Rops, Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Degas, Eric Gill). Other chapters include erotica in ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, Oriental erotic art (Taoist and Tantric art from China, Japan and India), gender and eroticism in Renaissance art, and the sensuality of sculpture.

The Global Sex Trade: Economics, Policy and the State. Released 4/24/2012. By Karie A. Gubbins.

Publisher's Description: Trafficking of women for commercial sex is the fastest growing transnational criminal phenomenon. The Global Sex Trade looks at the reality behind this shocking fact, showing how this situation has come about and how it can be changed. In a distinctive and original analysis, Gubbins shows the connections between the legalized sex industry and the illegal world of sex trafficking. Pornography creates the demand and, increasingly, trafficking is a form of supply. The result is a mutually beneficial relationship between legal and illegal economies that has allowed the global sex trade to expand and move freely across borders in recent decades. The Global Sex Trade illuminates the economic and political forces involved in women's exploitation and outlines routes to sexual equality.

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America's War on Sex: The Continuing Attack on Law, Lust, and Liberty. Released 4/30/2012. By Marty Klein.

Publisher's Description: In the second edition of America's War on Sex, Marty Klein uncovers how the "Sexual Disaster Industry" works—a powerful social and political propaganda machine that is supported by the very citizens it victimizes. This book analyzes eight "battlegrounds" in which America's War on Sex is being fought and examines how each one is the focus of an unrelenting struggle to regulate sexuality in direct contradiction to our Constitutional guarantees, scientific fact, and the needs of average Americans. Klein places these various attacks on our rights in historical context, explains how the money and political power are coordinated from the same sources, and shows how the Religious Right inflames Americans' anxiety about sexuality even as it proposes repressive schemes to reduce that anxiety.

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