DOASKDOTELL BOOK REVIEW of Sadownick’s Sex Between Men


Author (or Editor): Dadownick

Title: Sex Between Men


Publisher:  Harper San Francisco

Date:  1998?

ISBN:   0-06-251269-2

Series Name:

Physical description: paper

Relevance to doaskdotell   male homosexual practices, discussed academically


Book Review: Sex Between Men

Author: Douglas Sadownick

Publisher: Harper San Francisco

ISBN 0-06-251269-2 (paper)

Well, should this have been titled "Sex Among Men" in order to be grammatically (and perhaps politically) correct?

Seriously, I was very curious about the book because of my recent participation in the litigation against the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). (See discussion and legal issues.) As the law was written and interpreted (in its Three Prongs) literally, the title of this book could have been deemed "harmful to minors" and therefore illegal to list on a bookseller's web site (or on this one)

And the book is very explicit. It is indeed the uninhibited, robust presentation of the culture of male homosexuality, par excellence. Despite the protests of some people, our First Amendment does grant adults freedom to express and read such material, even from commercial sources aiming at a profit. The author's main intention is to develop and trace the role that sex has played in gay men's lives since before World War II until now. To do so, he must be explicit. There are graphic depictions of various male homosexual activities in extreme forms, such as fisting, golden showers, and the like. He even gets into what it must (at least upon speculation) feel like, physically. Harmful to minors, if posted in a public area of the web?

His position on the importance of sex (in relation to "love") is at best ambiguous. He does try to organize his argument in epochs (somewhat as does my own Do Ask, Do Tell). The age of AIDS (the 80's) is called "The Great Depression."

Some of his claims seem to be not quite correct. For example, he underestimates the attempts to organize the gay community before World War II; he underestimates the efforts that the CDC and NIH, even under the Reagan years, made to meet AIDS. The last chapter seems to suggest that there is a necessary nexus between male homosexuality (with it's "me first" nature) and drug abuse. I would disagree with this: I think gay men, the best of them, have every incentive to be role models for everyone else. Some gay men are. (So give up those cigarettes.) He also says he wants to explore "love" but he never gets around to discussing the polarity theories of Paul Rosenfels.

But perhaps he sums up his case with this gem of a sentence: "Whatever the dangers in sex, gay men's innate drive to make love to other men (one or many) corrects, redeems, and intervenes on a world gone mad with man-to-man violence."

This book is a good seller. At the gay book club at the downtown Minneapolis Barnes and Noble, it sold more copies than any other featured book. The comments from the group were interesting, particularly the emphasis on the dichotomy of loving another man instead of (or as well as) competing with him.



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