cover image Plays Well in Groups: A Journey Through the World of Group Sex

Plays Well in Groups: A Journey Through the World of Group Sex

Katherine Frank. Rowman & Littlefield, $34 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4422-1868-0

Frank (G-Strings and Sympathy) views the history of and cultural fixation on group sex through the dual binoculars of outsider-curiosity and insider-experience. A sometime anthropologically-minded stripper, sex party attendee, and convention-goer, Frank provides a lively, extensively researched overview of the stigmatization of group sex across societies and years, thanks not only to the piquant material but to her crisp voice and scene-building prowess. Amid case studies and interviews are well-evidenced, stark observations, such as hers that transgression--up to and including orgies--is ultimately conservative in its social effects." Frank's section covering socially-reinforced shame strikes relevant chords from its focus on victim-blaming in gang rapes to its spotlight on the media's routine portrayal of swingers as frumpy, unwanted, and untouchable. Along with the psychological and cultural, she delves into the biological with a rousing discussion of "sperm competition" and more. Establishing herself as a passionate yet rational voice in the literature of sex, she handles some of our culture's most flinch-inducing topics without sensationalizing or abandoning her academic neutrality. From her examination of swingers' theme parties to her dissection of The Bachelor, Frank takes readers through an anthropological tour de force on a subject that remains controversial, fascinating, and complex. (June)