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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Pleasure’s All Mine

A History of Perverse Sex

Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Pleasure’s All Mine

A History of Perverse Sex

Handcuffs, paddles, whips—the words alone are enough to make a person blush. Even by our society’s standards, the practice of things like BDSM is still very hush-hush, considered deviant sexual behavior that must be kept hidden. But the narrow view of what is thought of as “normal” sex—a vanilla act performed by one man and one woman—is more and more contested these days. And as Julie Peakman reveals, normal never really existed; for everyone, different kinds of sex have always offered myriad pleasures, and almost all sexual behaviors have traveled between acceptance and proscription. The Pleasure’s All Mine examines two millennia of letters, diaries, court records, erotic books, medical texts, and more to explore the gamut of “deviant” sexual activity.
Delving into the specialized cultures of pain, necrophilia, and bestiality and the social world of plushies, furries, and life-size sex dolls, Peakman considers the changing attitudes toward these, as well as masturbation, “golden showers,” sadomasochism, homosexuals, transvestites, and transsexuals. She follows the history of each behavior through its original reception to its interpretation by sexologists and how it is viewed today, showing how previously acceptable behaviors now provoke social outrage, or vice versa. In addition, she questions why people have been and remain intolerant of other people’s sexual preferences.
The first comprehensive history of sexual perversion and packed with both color and black and white images, The Pleasure’s All Mine is a fascinating and sometimes shocking look at the evolution of our views on sex.

472 pages | 40 color plates, 90 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2013

History: General History

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“Serious, historically informed, and as close to an exhaustive account as we are likely ever to see of the extravagant creativity that humans have invested in sex. A masterpiece.”

Thomas W. Laqueur, University of California, Berkeley

“For those with an erudite interest in debauchery, this latest from author, historian, and sex scholar Peakman is just the ticket… Peakman’s broad overview is stunning, sweeping, and very carefully nonjudgmental. She recounts the history of each so-called perversion from its earliest recorded occurrence through the present, showing how the shifting mores of society color our views on this endlessly fascinating subject. Exhaustively researched and packed with startling images, this work is a fact-filled, entertaining read for sex history neophytes and scholars alike.”

Library Journal

“A substantial, well-illustrated, funny, and thoughtful work. . . . If societies are arbitrary and changeable about what they consider perversions, there is good reason to rely on the rule about harm to determine what is actually perverse and what is not. Peakman’s book is a good step toward this understanding.”

The Dispatch

“This seductive book traces changing attitudes to a dozen different sexual perversions from the beginning of Western civilisation to the present day. . . . In an ambitious book that unites compelling subject matter with authoritative style, the author does an excellent job of tracking the multiple and changing attitudes towards non-mainstream sexual preferences. The study is enlivened by many telling examples. . . . The illustrations within are fabulous, albeit not for the faint-hearted.”

Times Higher Education

“A thorough history of sexual stigmas, this book will prove especially useful to undergraduate and graduate students interested in the study of sexuality and culture. General readers will find the book entertaining. Recommended.”


“Whether sussing out topics like homosexuality and BDSM, to those that still remain taboo, like bestiality and pedophilia, Peakman is able to provide a well-needed historical context for all things "perverse" (or in her opinion, not perverse at all) and shine a light in the many places we would rather keep dark.”


Table of Contents


1. Taking it Straight

2. From Onanism to Spending

3. From Ganymedes to Gays

4. From Female Friendships to Lipstick Lesbians

5. From Transvestites to Transsexuals

6. A Man’s Best Friend: Bestiality

7. The Ties that Bind: Sadomasochism

8. Loving the Dead

9. Too Close for Comfort: Incest

10. Child Love or Paedophilia?

11. The Games People Play

12. On Body Parts: Fellatio, Fetishism, Infibulations and Fisting

Epilogue: A Limit to Tolerance




Photo Acknowledgements


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