Pleasure Principle

Michael Bronski, Author
Michael Bronski, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-15625-1
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-312-25287-8
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""For decades,"" writes Boston gay cultural critic Bronski (Culture Clash), ""conservative psychoanalysts, religious leaders, and politicians have charged that homosexuality is about nothing more than having sex; that homosexuals are `obsessed' with sex; that homosexuality is a `flight' from the responsibilities of `mature' sexuality. And they are right."" Though occupying an uneasy middle ground between the academic and the mainstream (reflected in its clear but occasionally fussy prose), Bronski's book is important as a long-overdue addition to the discussion of gayness and sexuality in general in the U.S. In devoting the greatest part of his argument to the relationship of gay sex to pure pleasure, and to the lessons in pleasure learned by the rest of society from the gay example, Bronski is able to deal with issues that nearly all sides of the debate have tended to shy away from. Bronski draws compelling and broadly considered parallels between homophobia and anti-Semitism and provides a useful history of the development of ghettos as a way that various societies have handled unassimilable minorities. Though he forthrightly takes on the issue of children and homosexuality, he is at his weakest there for relying heavily on correspondences and opinions that seem inconclusive. Yet his book reminds us that before matters of sexuality--homo-, hetero- or otherwise--can be resolved, sexuality itself and the concept of pleasure must be confronted head on. (Aug.)
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