With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality

With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality

With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality

With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality


Challenging everything from the mandates of the Catholic Church to the hotly debated ethics of pornography, and from the controversy surrounding gay rights to issues of gender and feminism, With Pleasure explores a new theory of human sexuality that ignites every hot topic in the public domain. What role, authors Paul Abramson and Steven Pinkerton ask, does sexual pleasure play in our lives? Is the pursuit of sexual enjoyment in our blood? Our brains? Our very nature? Regardless of the source, it can be agreed that the joys of sex are widely appreciated. Why, then, is pleasure so often overlooked in discussions of sexual behavior, and why do cultural, historical, and religious treatises so often fail to emphasize, or outright ignore, this obvious aspect of human sexuality? Responding to these and many other questions about our most private affairs, With Pleasure provides a profoundly original challenge to the cherished truisms of human sexuality. Abramson and Pinkerton proclaim the paramount importance of pleasure, while at the same time overthrowing traditional ideas about gender, pornography, contraception, homosexuality, abortion, and much more. Supported by rigorous research and co-written by one of the foremost authorities on sex, With Pleasure argues that human sexuality cannot be understood if its significance is limited to reproduction alone. The authors posit that in humans reproduction itself occurs as a byproduct of pleasure--not the other way around--and that it is the strong drive for pleasure that makes people overcome many obstacles--and even life-threatening dangers such as AIDS--to have sex. Ranging from discussions about the church to current debates about pornography, and from evolutionary theory to questions about the future of sex and pleasure, Abramson and Pinkerton argue persuasively that the pleasurability of sex cannot be restricted to purely reproductive behavior. With Pleasure advances a startling and original new theory about human sexuality, one which the authors believe will replace all existing notions about sex. The book, standing in direct and deliberate opposition to traditions that try to confine sexuality to procreation, is sure to ignite a firestorm of controversy.


Shortly after the protagonist (Jimmy) of The Crying Game discovers that his "girlfriend" (Dil) is really a man, the following intimate exchange takes place:

Jimmy: "I should've known, shouldn't I?"

Dil: "Probably."

Jimmy: "I kinda wish I didn't."

Dil: "You can always pretend."

But can one really pretend? On a purely physiological level it would certainly seem possible. After all, genital stimulation, whether by a man or a woman, sends the same sensory signals to the brain. Yet somehow the sex, appearance, and identity of the person providing the stimulation are all critical determinants of whether or not the stimulation is perceived as pleasurable. Many people, heterosexual and homosexual alike, are strongly attracted to only one of the two sexes. And, all things being equal, most people would prefer an attractive partner to an unattractive one. Even then, whether or not pleasure is experienced is significantly influenced by who the attractive, appropriately sexed pleasure-giver is, not to mention the context in which the stimulation occurs. Certain partners, such as family members, are taboo. Others are considered undesirable, or even repulsive, for whatever reason.

But who decides which partners are appropriate and which are taboo? What determines sexual attractiveness? And, borrowing a line from Tina Turner, "what's love got to do with it?" Definitive answers to . . .

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