Handcuffs, paddles, whips–the words alone are enough to make a person blush. Even by our society’s standards, the practice of things like BDSM is still very hush-hush, considered deviant sexual behavior that must be kept hidden. But the narrow view of what is thought of as “normal” sex–a vanilla act performed by one man and one woman–is more and more contested these days. And as Julie Peakman reveals, normal never really existed; for everyone, different kinds of sex have always offered myriad pleasures, and almost all sexual behaviors have traveled between acceptance and proscription. The Pleasure’s All Mine examines two millennia of letters, diaries, court records, erotic books, medical texts, and more to explore the gamut of “deviant” sexual activity.
Delving into the specialized cultures of pain, necrophilia, and bestiality and the social world of plushies, furries, and life-size sex dolls, Peakman considers the changing attitudes toward these, as well as masturbation, “golden showers,” sadomasochism, homosexuals, transvestites, and transsexuals. She follows the history of each behavior through its original reception to its interpretation by sexologists and how it is viewed today, showing how previously acceptable behaviors now provoke social outrage, or vice versa. In addition, she questions why people have been and remain intolerant of other people’s sexual preferences.
The first comprehensive history of sexual perversion and packed with both color and black and white images, The Pleasure’s All Mine is a fascinating and sometimes shocking look at the evolution of our views on sex.