The Slaughterhouse

By Freire, J. Peter | The American Spectator, September 2008 | Go to article overview

The Slaughterhouse


Freire, J. Peter, The American Spectator


The Slaughterhouse Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics By Dagmar Herzog (BASIC BOOKS, 249 PAGES, $26.95)

Reviewed by J. Peter Freire

Sex and the Single Professor

NOW MIGHT BE AN APPROPRIATE TIME to State the Freire Modern Professor Hypothesis, which goes like this: The more a professor favors taboos over traditional morality, the further that professor will advance. Bonus if there's little substance to the topic of study, and no utility for the research. Based on this, Professor Dagmar Herzog's new book should make her a university president in no time.

"This book was an agony to write," begins the professor in her foreword to Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics. That makes me feel only slightly better, because her book was also an agony to read. It's a study of the sexual counterrevolution of the '80s and '90s, but to hear Ms. Herzog tell it, we're in the midst of a "sexuality crisis" that is entirely the fault of a conspiratorial Religious Right.

You heard me. Evangelicals are to blame for lousy whoopee.

A professor of the history of sexuality, Herzog maintains the kind of job that could exist only in a society where Cosmopolitan rakes in obscene ad revenues by plastering on its cover different permutations of the phrase "How to Please Your Man." Her job is to read that article, take notes, and present a paper on it.

To be clear: she is paid to do this. Fourteen-year-old boys must never learn that one can make a living studying pornography and (as in this book) complaining about the hypocrisy of religious parents. They might start billing us.

Herzog advances the notion that the sexual revolution of the '60s and '70s liberated us from the oppression of keeping our pants on when strangers are present. Shockingly, people who closely follow the Bible were not okay with this development, and schemed to spoil all the pants-free fun. Now America's pants hang in limbo, as conflicting messages about morality and sexual freedom play out in churches, town halls, and episodes of reality TV.

But don't get her wrong. Herzog points out that she was raised in a "deeply Christian" household, with clerical relatives and everything. She yearns for the Bible Belt of her high school and college years, when sexual choices were "fluid and adaptable" for "evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike."

This dreamy Bible Belt could have existed, I guess, but it's hard for this Connecticut native to envision. I can't imagine the 19-year-old Dagmar helpingher pastor polish the altar, mopping between the pews, and sharing her excitement over someday writing a book on Sex after Fascism, after which little Billy Ray Jones would run in wearing a skirt and tiara, to no one's surprise. But maybe I've got the South all wrong, experienced as it was in doses of Denny's and Waffle Houses on family trips. Maybe it really is all pride parades and cheeky costumes.

Whatever the case, readers should feel insulted by her "some of my best friends are Christian!" approach. We weren't born yesterday, and it's pretty clear she's not born-again. She thinks abortion "rights" are as inalienable as "homosexual rights," and she seems pretty cool with teenage sex. If all this and attending church make somebody an Evangelical Christian, Rudy Giuliani is the new Billy Graham. He can take turns with Bill Clinton.

Rather than approach Christians with understanding, Herzog can only show contempt:

To anyone reading its sex and marriage advice literature, the Religious Right's core message to its followers becomes abundantly clear: you really con have it all. You can feel virtuously superior to and voyeuristically outraged by sexual minorities and abortion seekers. And you can know that God forgives all your own prior sins, and that He promises you decades of spectacular sex in marriage.

...Reinforcing contempt for homosexuals was how the Religious Right made it big in the first place. …

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