How Sex Became a Civil Liberty shows how we came to see sexual expression, sexual practice, and sexual privacy as fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, thanks to the work of ACLU leaders and attorneys who forged legal principles that advanced the sexual revolution.
This book follows a series of sexual rights cases from 1910 to the 1990s that addressed birth control, nudism, abortion, prostitution, censorship, homosexuality, sexual harassment, and more. Wheeler (history, SUNY, Binghamton; Against Obscenity: Reform and the Politics of Womanhood in America, 1873-1935) studies the lives and ideas of the ACLU leaders who spearheaded these issues, as well as the politics and history of the movement. The ACLU was at the forefront of these court cases, influencing executive and legislative branches, working with more specialized organizations like Planned Parenthood, and educating the public. By the 1970s the organization and its allies had fostered a constitutional right to privacy through the courts, but many of the sexual liberties discussed here are still to be realized. Strong opposition and conflicting values (for instance, censorship and sexual harassment) remain. This book is loaded with information and draws effectively upon primary sources. VERDICT Marty Klein's America's War on Sex also covers law and sex with some historical context. However, Wheeler's is the definitive work on the history of sexual rights in the United States in the 20th century. An essential title for students and academics in this area of study.-Mary Jane Brustman, Univ. at Albany Libs., NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Oxford University Press
November 27, 2012
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