Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

Jesse Bering. FSG/. Scientific American, $26 (254p) ISBN 978-0-374-23089-0
In a book as informative as it is entertaining, Bering (Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?) argues for the efficacy of science and logic over irrational morals when addressing “sexual deviancy.” Citing numerous studies and historical sources, Bering makes the claim that, deep down, we are all sexual deviants in one form or another—and that sexual deviancy is, in fact, not deviant at all. From the beginning of human history, people have engaged in antiheteronormative behaviors, from bestiality to pedophilia. Furthermore, Bering shows how most sexual deviancy isn’t a choice, but rather is the result of a genetic predisposition over which the individual has no control. Laws and medical diagnoses controlling sexual activity should investigate whether the activities in question cause “harm” (though harm itself is subjective, and is therefore also a problematic way to assess behavior), rather than whether society is merely grossed out by them. This is clearly a personal topic for Bering, who is gay and, in fact, discusses his experiences of self-loathing and discrimination. Despite the occasional preachy paragraph, Bering’s latest is a delightful, intelligent, and thought-provoking addition to the growing body of our sexual knowledge of self. Agent: Peter Tallack, the Science Factory. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/2013
Release date: 10/08/2013
Paperback - 265 pages - 978-0-374-53483-7
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-374-71063-7
Hardcover - 265 pages - 978-0-85752-040-1
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