Fascinating reads, our sexuality is an extremely intimate thread in human history, in fact sex is the foundation of most human social institutions, the family itself is a unit whose main purpose is ensuring and perpetuating specific sexual arrangements.
Of all worldly pleasures and urges, sexual desire motivates in a half hidden, half seen, way that colors and affects most of our activities, our yearnings, our quests.
Knowing about the history of sexual arrangements in society helps us better understand ourselves, how we got here, and where we came from. The benefits are too obvious to bother mentioning.
Here are three reads I’m finding valuable and interesting. You can order them from Amazon or simply check them out in your library
1. Pricy, but a very good read, Libertine Enlightenment: Sex, Liberty and License in the Eighteenth-Century. is a book chock full of information on a little considered memetic aspect of Enlightenment era europe – the sexual ideas and construction of the Rake and the Libertine. It’s an academic work, but a stimulating one.. at times.
Rakes do make for interesting reading, sans descriptions of venereal disease. Being a rake is an interesting experience, but the returns are far more modest, mediocre, and damaging than some would admit. Included among the risks is a certain insipid boredom with things that once were fresh, wonderful, and amazing.. and a certain disillusion. That and non-sociable diseases.
There are better occupations for men.
2. Also pricy, but a classic and indispensible, though quite rare now and out of print: Abdelwahab Bouhdiba’s Sexuality in Islam. – it’s simply one of the best books exploring the historical and theological issue of Sexuality in Islam.
Bouhdiba’s view is highly idiosyncratic and debatable, but he gives an interesting read and displays a fidelity to both the actual textual sources of Islam and an understanding of the social practices. His greatest strengths seem to be the sexual history of the Western lands of Islamdom, North Africa, Spain, Sicily and so on.
3. Finally Sexual Encounters in the Middle East: The British, the French And the Arabs This is an interesting source book with some analysis – and deals with colonialism to some degree, and the ways in which questions of sexuality actually affected the history of the Middle East.
The book also discusses issues like clothing and gender differences, with europeans and native Arabs, also of interest are the ways in which Westerners projected certain attitudes or desires on their encounters with Middle Eastern social institutions.