Kink: The Hidden Sex Lives of Americans

Susan Crain Bakos, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-312-11845-7
If the most recent sex surveys suggest Americans are conservative in bed, Bakos (Sexual Pleasures) describes a busy subculture-fueled by changing mores among the avant-garde, fear of disease and boredom and our historical sexual repression-pushing sexual boundaries. Researching her breezily anecdotal report, the author confesses, infrequently turned her on; indeed, her book is intriguing but troubling. Bakos begins with the mildly adventurous-those involved in anal sex and spanking-then moves on to S&M, both straight and gay, paid domination, fetishes, body piercing (which she sees as linked to S&M) and swing clubs. While her interviewees defend their practices, many seem to be working through traumatic childhood experiences. Bakos is skeptical of nonjudgmental therapists who can't condemn the cruelties of ``destructive consensual behaviors''; she thinks light kink is sexy, heavy kink is not. Those involved in heavy kink have trouble with intimacy, she notes; and these oft-geeky types do not resemble the fantasies purveyed on MTV. But be on guard: ``These are not expert conclusions'' but just the author's. For interested readers unmotivated to do their own surveys. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 325 pages - 978-0-312-95684-4
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