Great books tell stories. Here’s our pick of vivid and insightful new releases for better understanding America, world events, history, science, and theology
“It is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Ephesians 5:12). But what if they do them in the open? What if they do them in Room 206 of the campus Physical Education Center and are graded on them? And what if you’re footing the bill, Mom and Dad?
I borrowed 20-year-old Ella’s textbook and syllabus for her Human Sexuality class. Crooks and Baur, 12th edition—the hefty paperback costs $200, of which Ella will only recoup $12 at semester’s end—boasts ponderous double authorship, but the contents bear no resemblance to rigor of scholarship, notwithstanding a plethora of charts and graphs.
A sample of sex “science”:
“Physical attractiveness often plays a dominant role in drawing lovers together.” “Jealousy is an uncomfortable feeling that often harms a relationship and stifles the pleasure of being together.” “Facial expressions of emotion are often a powerful component of nonverbal communication.”
Now from the banal to the blatantly propagandist:
“The religious right in America has long labored to reinforce traditional gender roles through its efforts to shape American politics.” “Gender roles are a product of socialization.” “The teachings of Jesus emphasized love, compassion, and forgiveness … ‘Neither do I condemn thee.’” “Homophobia can be best thought of as a prejudice similar to racism, anti-Semitism, or sexism.”
Here are Crooks and Baur as Bible experts:
“Beginning in the 7th century BCE, … Jewish religious leaders wanted to develop a distinct closed community. Homosexual activities were a part of the religious practices of many peoples in that era, and rejecting such practices was one way of keeping the Jewish religion unique.”
The painful 1991 Clarence Thomas–Anita Hill trial is resurrected as an example of workplace sexual harassment to punish the Supreme Court justice all over again—never mind that Thomas was found not guilty, a detail not included by Crooks and Baur.
The book has a chapter on “Guidelines for Coming Out to Friends,” photos of myriad sexual positions, and a table to educate you on the difference between fetishism, transvestic fetishism, sexual sadism, sexual masochism, autoerotic asphyxia, Klismophilia, Coprophilia and Urophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, frotteurism, zoophilia, and necophilia. Not a moral objection is raised to any of the above “sexual expressions.”
Remember the spelling lists your teacher gave you for homework? Ella’s list includes: “gender” (defined as a “psychological construct”), “excitement phase,” “plateau phase,” “orgasm,” and “resolution.” Remember multiple choice tests? Here is a sampler from Ella’s quizzes: “Which of the following is least likely to be a suggestion for maintaining sexual variety?”; “Which of the following is the best example of homophobia?”; “Masturbation has been recommended in your text for all except which of the following?”; “Which of the following best reflects current views toward homosexuality within Christianity?”
Ella’s Oct. 22 term paper is an “Experiential Paper” and the professor promises: “This paper is completely confidential. No one reads it except me! [That’s comforting.] Minimum length is four pages, double spaced. Pick a project that will challenge you.” Choices:
- Interview someone whose sexuality is clearly different from yours. Find out about their sexual behavior and feelings.
- Spend at least two hours in a gay male bar, a lesbian bar, a transgender bar, or a sexually oriented club. If you are having trouble finding one, you can search the internet.
- Attend a Sexual Pleasure Workshop. Write about the experience.
- Visit a sex or novelty shop. What was it like inside?
Ella’s Nov. 19 paper is a “Sexual History”: “Students will complete a sex history. Below are listed the components you will need to include in your history. Think about all of these components and write about EVERY SINGLE ONE, including your feelings about these events.” I scan down to the obligatory “components” and read:
- Early memories of sexual feelings and experimentation.
- First sexual experience(s) with another person.
- Your favorite sexual fantasies and how you feel about them.
In Cal Thomas’ What Works, the political commentator writes: “The question must be asked: why do so many parents who hold traditional views that worked for them and the country willingly and enthusiastically send their children to academic institutions that frequently undermine everything they believe? And pay for it, too? Is it because of the ‘prestige’ of these historic schools?”
Isn’t it time to stop kidding ourselves about the worth of faded sheepskin and “prestige”?