anne-richard
» » Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco

Download Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco epub

by Josh Sides




Since the 1960s, San Francisco has been America's capital of sexual libertinism and a potent symbol in its culture wars. In this highly original book, Josh Sides explains how this happened, unearthing long-forgotten stories of the city's sexual revolutionaries, as well as the legions of longtime San Franciscans who tried to protect their vision of a moral metropolis. Erotic dancers, prostitutes, birth control advocates, pornographers, free lovers, and gay libbers transformed San Francisco's political landscape and its neighborhoods in ways seldom appreciated. But as sex radicals became more visible in the public spaces of the city, many San Franciscans reacted violently. The assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were but the most brazen acts in a city caught up in a battle over morality. Ultimately, Sides argues, one cannot understand the evolution of postwar American cities without recognizing the profound role that sex has played. More broadly, one cannot understand modern American politics without taking into account the postwar transformation of San Francisco and other cities into both real and imagined repositories of unfettered sexual desire.
Download Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco epub
ISBN: 0199874069
ISBN13: 978-0199874064
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Josh Sides
Language: English
Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 24, 2011)
Pages: 304 pages
ePUB size: 1181 kb
FB2 size: 1703 kb
Rating: 4.1
Votes: 370
Other Formats: doc docx lit txt

September
While cities in the United States tend to be fairly progressive when it comes sexuality and gender, San Francisco is doubtlessly the most progressive of them all. It is fabled for its tolerance and more closely identified with sexual liberation--particularly gay liberation--than any other city in the world. As such, it is a major destination for sexual radicals of all types and often used as a symbol of freedom or decline, depending on your perspective, in national battles over sexual mores.

But how exactly did it become such a city and at the cost of what efforts?

Josh Sides's outstanding, newish book, Erotic City Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco, goes a long way toward answering these questions and will likely be the definitive work on the topic for years to come. Though focused particularly on the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, his study goes as far back as the skirmishes between sex radicals and conservatives in the mid-nineteenth century and right up to the debates about same-sex marriage that Proposition 8 sparked in 2008. It is truly comprehensive.

There are essentially three protagonists in the book: sex radicals, who self-consciously sought to transform sexual relationships; people employed in the sex industry (prostitutes, pornographers, etc), whose livelihoods put them at odds with prevailing norms; and conservatives. Sides's sympathies clearly lay with the radicals but, to his credit, he concentrates on chronicling a story, not promoting a cause.

Sides shows not only that San Francisco's sexual physiognomy changed over the years, but also helps explain why it changed. He does this not by focusing on major figures--Harvey Milk, for example--or the vicissitudes of legislation, but rather by looking at the manifold and often subterranean efforts made by activists, partisans, and even those unwittingly thrown into the drama, all of which cumulatively shifted the sexual tides of the city.

To do this, he had to conduct a prodigious amount of research and, indeed, he did: Sides draws from memoirs, newspaper records, interviews, direct observation, among many other sources. And yet, for all his scholarly thoroughness, the book remains highly readable and communicates that a moral drama of great import played out in the streets and bedrooms and barrooms of San Francisco.

Whether you are a scholar of sexual radicalism or just curious about the Bay Area, you will want to grab a copy of Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco.
Kigul
There is alot of detail at the strip places. I appreciate that since thats what Im looking for; I want to know how it because the Mecca for the Sexual Revolution of the 60's.
nadness
thanks for the book. I am not taking the class after all but i will keep it as reading material
Iriar
Not a great book. Good review for the seller. Came as promised.
you secret
In "Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco", Josh Sides argues, “Some of the most important battles of the sexual revolution were fought not necessarily in the mind, around the dining room table, or in the nation’s courtrooms but instead in the streets of America’s cities. Furthermore, the outcome of this bitter contest about sexual expressions in public spaces – on streets, in parks, on newsstands, in bars, in nightclubs, and in steam baths – is the most enduring legacy of the sexual revolution in the United States” (pg. 5-6). Sides challenges “the notion that race was always the prime mover in postwar urban history by arguing that it was the shifting culture of cities that more directly influenced their destiny” (pg. 10). In his examination, Sides combines elements of gender analysis with both the statistical and spatial turns in history.
Beginning in the early twentieth century, Sides writes, “Between World War I and the late 1950s, representatives of the city’s financial elite, municipal government, local law enforcement, and sundry cultural and religious leaders, like their counterparts in other large American cities, sought to suppress the ubiquitous and irrepressible human tendency to express sexual identities and desires” (pg. 17). Sides linking zoning and urban renewal to morality crusades, writing, “Further intensifying the postwar crusade against prostitution in San Francisco was the ascendancy of a powerful coalition of progrowth business leaders, ambitious politicians, public administrators, and professional planners under the auspices of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (SFRA)” (pg. 30). Though Sides argues the beats played a limited role in themselves, he sees them as indicative of a larger trend encouraging sexual experimentation in San Francisco. He writes, “The proliferation of pornography in the 1970s, essentially the product of changing values among young Americans and increasingly liberal Supreme Court decisions, was also the product of technological changes – in particular, the rising popularity of 16-millimeter film” (pg. 59). Examining the intersection of race and gender, Sides writes, “The explosion of prostitution in the Western Addition in the 1960s and 1970s was part of the citywide relaxation of both social and legal codes against casual and even commercial sex. But in the Western Addition, this explosion was also the product of the deepening economic deprivation of many African Americans in the 1960s” (pg. 62-63).
Examining the gay rights movement, Sides writes, “As the sites of gay sociability expanded in San Francisco, most gay men in the 1970s abandoned the political agitation of their forebears in the homophile and gay liberation movements and sought simply to enjoy active and free sexual lives. By contrast, as lesbians built a separate world for themselves in the Mission District – a world informed largely by the ideology of cultural feminism – lesbian sex became highly politicized, generally to the detriment of erotic freedom. Ultimately, however, if the immediate political legacy of gay and lesbian liberation was sometimes uncertain and unsettled, the geographic impact was profound and enduring” (pg. 85). He does offer the following criticism: “Gay men broke sharply with lesbian women, with whom they had shared social space before the sexual revolution. Given their freedom, many gay men simply replicated the same sort of misogynistic ‘boys only’ policies and attitudes that had once impeded them” (pg. 106-107). Further, “As many gay men in the midst of their revolution too easily adopted the sexism of American society, they often adopted its racial mores as well” (pg. 107). Of Golden Gate Park, Sides writes, “Despite the genteel discourse of the park, it also served unsavory purposes from the beginning. The very design of the park – its winding roads, high shrubs, and isolated dells – allowed people to act out their human penchant for violence with sex and anonymity and, usually, impunity” (pg. 124).
Sides argues that moral crusaders knew public protests often earned them derision, while “far more effective were municipal leaders’ campaigns to legislate limitations on public spectacles of sex. The approached purported obscenities as symptoms of urban decline, the process of urban divestment that plagued many cities during the 1960s and 1970s” (pg. 141). The more outspoken politicians created a new round of hate crimes, however. Sides writes, “Exceptionally troubling to gay rights advocates was the rhetoric of this new wave of homophobia, which not only asserted the general depravity and criminality of homosexuality but often implicitly condoned violent attacks against homosexuals themselves” (pg. 156).
Turning to the AIDS crisis, Sides shifts the focus of the historiography, writing, “Peoples’ social and economic class status, race, and location within the city all shaped responses to AIDS in ways that elude quick calculation. And the changing epidemiology of the disease after the early 1980s also changed the meaning of the disease for San Franciscans. In short, the historic devastation to the Castro must be seen in its proper context – as the most affected district of a city in which other affected districts and numerous people were also deeply transformed by the debilitating virus” (pg. 176-177). Despite this devastation, Sides argues that the revolutionary sexual character of the city remains, though in changed form. Looking at the 1990s and early 2000s, he writes, “Developers, planners, and businesses both small and large repurposed much of the urban landscape of San Francisco during these decades, and though the intent was rarely to diminish public spectacles of sexuality, it often had that effect” (pg. 206). Many of the businesses were replaced by online sources following the rise of the Internet and the anonymity it afforded, though the city still attracts those interested in sexual revolution.