1. Religion & Spirituality
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End

Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End

Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End

Guide Rating - rating

Although I never had the good fortune to meed Katie while I myself was at Princeton, I have very much enjoyed both this book and her earlier work, "The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism". She has a great talent of cutting through all of the double-talk and hidden agendas which typify discussions about sex and sexuality in America, giving a clear analysis of what is really going on.

Summary

Title: Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End
Author: Katie Roiphe
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
ISBN: 0316754390

 

Book Review

In contemporary America, dialogue about sex has become characterized by an attitude of caution and fear — something which would have been unthinkable when the sexual revolution began in the ‘60s. Why and how this has happened is the subject of Roiphe’s book, and anyone who wonders about why sexuality is treated as it is will benefit from her discussions. A new puritanism has swept across the nation, and the language of sexual conservatism today is very much like what it once was a few decades ago, even if the ostensible reasons have changed.

One particularly interesting topic to which she returns a number of times is the issue of high-profile cases of AIDS serving the voice of sexual conservatism. People like Magic Johnson and Alison Gertz go before the media to bring a message of caution to the public with the assumption — normally stated very explicitly — that “if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”

But as Roiphe so aptly demonstrates, the people we see in these cases are not really like anyone else. They are unusual people and have often engaged in high-risk behavior which made them susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases.

But as unusual as these people are, we are supposed to see ourselves in them. We are supposed to think that what happens to them may also happen to us. Although that is perhaps possible in some theoretical sense, it simply isn’t rational to assume that Magic Johnson’s experiences are any representation of what our experiences may be.

I don’t do the sorts of things which got him his millions of dollars. I don’t do the sorts of things which got him is thousands of fans. And I don’t do the sorts of things which got him his thousands of sexual experiences — and so also his disease.

So along with admonitions for a reasonable degree of caution, we are also getting sold an ideology of unreasonable paranoia.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.