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Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation
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Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  115 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
At a time when almost any victimless sexual practice has its public advocates and almost every sexual act is fit for the front page, the easiest, least harmful, and most universal one is embarrassing, discomforting, and genuinely radical when openly acknowledged. Masturbation may be the last taboo. But this is not a holdover from a more benighted age. The ancient world car ...more
Paperback, 504 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Zone Books (first published March 1st 2003)
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Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
This has got to be one of the most peculiar books I've read and not just for its title or size. Laqueur starts with a premise that is quite unexpected for the reader that of studying the cultural change of the last three centuries through their attitude towards this taboo topic. The end product demonstrates not only Laqueur abilities as a historian to gleam such unmarked centuries-old information but also the many ways in which this topic can serve to highlight the rise of modernity.
Emma Sea
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Review to come (heh)
Heidi Nemo
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Sex-crazed brainiacs
I love Laqueur. Even sex with yourself can be a social problem and a quest for identity, it seems.
Tristan Goding
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
If you ask me, I think the act of masturbation gets far too much slack, even in our slowly progressing culture. In my opinion, playing with oneself is among the most innocent, least sexual things a creature, whether human, beast, insect, or plant, can do. I have absolutely no belief in this whole "satisfaction of the evil twin" nonsense, and labeling such an act as so seems to only be encouraging society to view it as a taboo. From what I can tell, this philosophy of mine (and many others, I wou ...more
Ok, so the first thing is that while Laqueur is kinda completing one of the missing volumes of History of Sexuality (the figure of the Masturbator) while also undermining some of the thoughts that Foucault had (because tbh, Laqueur is like Boswell by other means which is not really a hard social constructionist and is maybe a little bit more genealogical in some ways because there isn't *an event* that is essentailized which isn't a slam on Foucault but more an explanation for why this book is 4 ...more
Leandra Cate
Jun 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Laqueur's earlier book, Making Sex, was one of those rare reading moments that changed the course of my thinking and, at the time, my scholarship. Clever, insightful, different, daring, well-researched. The same things could be said of Solitary Sex but with not so devastating and complete an impact. A very enjoyable and detailed book that doesn't quite tie up its central point about masturbation (or rather anxiety about masturbation) becoming a cultural fixation as a result of the Enlightenment ...more
Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Investigates how masturbation has been viewed culturally, primarily Western culture and mostly from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century. Some mention of Japan as well. Looks some at antiquity as well. Argues that masturbation was unimportant to most before the eighteenth century, that the enlightenment, and advent of free market, solitary reading and privacy coalesced to make masturbation appear much more threatening to civilization than it had before. As better theories (germ theory ...more
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ένα από τα καλύτερα βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει στη ζωή μου. Ο Laqueur αποτελεί κεφάλαιο ως καθηγητής ιστορίας, πόσο μάλλον όταν διδάσκει στο ίδιο πανεπιστήμιο με την ανυπέρβλητη Butler. Αυτός είναι και ο λόγος που διάβασα το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο, καθώς υπήρχε στη βιβλιογραφία μιας δημοσίευσής της.

Πρόκειται για μία ιστορική και πολιτισμική ανάλυση της αυτοϊκανοποίησης. Σκοπός του δεν είναι ούτε να σοκάρει, ούτε να προσβάλει. Στόχος του βιβλίου είναι να αναδείξει τις κοινωνικές αναπαραστάσεις των ιστ
Lisa Schneider
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very comprehensize history of matsturbation. Also, an interesting study about how central masutrbuation has been to the idea and formation of the modern self.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Thomas Laqueur tackles a taboo topic with candor. This book shares the same strengths and weaknesses as Laqueur's new book "The Work of the Dead": fascinating topic, meandering organization.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Jun 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
I did not read the entire book, but thought it worth listing. Any cultural-history book about masturbation will always get my approval!
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Thomas W. Laqueur is an American historian, sexologist and writer.
He is the author of Solitary Sex : A Cultural History of Masturbation and Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud as well as many articles and reviews. He is the winner of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award and is Professor of History at the University of California.