Riots and Pogroms

Edited by Paul R. Brass

“During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, many Korean-American businesses were looted and burned to the ground. Although nearly half of the looters arrested were Latinos, the media portrayed this aspect of the riots more in terms on the on-going conflicts between Korean-Americans and African-Americans… Riots and Pogroms presents comparative studies of public violence in the twentieth century in the United States, Russia, Germany, Israel and India… How do political and social forces seek to assign causes and attach labels to riots, attribute motives to rioters and ‘pogromists,’ and explain why particular groups are selected for violent assaults? To what extent are the state and its agents implicated in those assaults? To what degree does organization and/or spontaneity play a role in these incidents?

Publisher: NYU
Hardback: 320 pages

Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood and Privilege on Campus

Peggy Reeves Sanday

“Draws a chilling picture of fraternity society, its debasement of women and the way it creates a looking-glass world in which gang rape can be considered normal behavior and the pressure of groupthink is powerful.”

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 203 pages

From Fasting Saints to Anorexic Girls: The History of Self-Starvation

Walter Vandereycken and Ron Van Deth

“Although the term anorexia nervosa was not identified until the 19th century, the compulsion to be thin at the price of starvation has a long history in Western society. In this engaging and thorough account of the history of self-starvation in the Western world, Vandereycken and Van Deth show how self-inflicted starvation has changed over the centuries and is inextricably enmeshed in socio-cultural contexts.”

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 280 pages

Unspeakable Acts: Why Men Sexually Abuse Children

Douglas W. Pryor

The unusual quality that sets this book apart from the current avalanche of sensational literature on the subject of child sex abuse is embodied in the subtitle. The author of this book invites us to consider, for a moment, why men commit abusive sexual acts against children, as we drag these men toward the chopping block. This quality is called compassion, and this book administers a sobering dose of it. In his ethnographic research, the author conducted lengthy interviews with a core group of 27 respondents, men drawn from treatment groups, prisons, probation programs and the private practices of therapists. Typically, the men were in their ‘30s, married and employed with no other criminal backgrounds. Most lived in the same households with their victims.
Some of Pryor’s research confirms what is already known. Nothing is a better indicator of a propensity toward sex abuse than a history of sex abuse. The lessons that an abused child learns about power, rationalization and self-worth (or its absence) shape the adult’s attitude toward other children. The idea that sexual abuse is somehow “normal” underpins the excuses abusing adults make to themselves to enable their own aggressions. However, Pryor finds that, contrary to the political construct of the abuser as an emotionless objectifier carrying the culture’s most unwholesome impulses to their logical conclusions, molesters are often as horrified by their own behavior as everybody else.
Though Pryor makes the explicit connection between cultural sexism and abusive behavior, he recognizes that not all men molest and that molesters themselves know this. Filled with shame and remorse not only by their own desires but, as a rule, by sexuality in general, they fall into the cycle of addiction, hoping to dam their impulses by force of will and, when will collapses, capitulating to them abjectly. Isolated in their self-hatred, molesters can only ventilate their rage through the victimization of others. What Pryor calls “the moral boundary” once crossed becomes illusive. His subjects have a way of identifying themselves as victims, of adults who molested them, of children who seduced them, of impulses they can’t understand or control.
Favoring what he calls “a peacemaking model” that will undoubtedly enrage many readers, Pryor opposes Megan’s Law and other public castigations of offenders, indeed questions the use of the criminal-justice system overall as a means of protecting children from abuse. Removing offenders from their isolation, compelling them to see the common humanity between themselves and their victims, offers the only hope for breaking the cycle of abuse from one generation to the next in the author’s view. “Until we find a way to encourage offenders to come forward with their stories rather than hide and continue with what they are doing, the situation is only bound to get worse.” IL

Publisher: NYU
Hardback: 351 pages

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean

B.R. Burg

This book actually started out to be a way of offering history students a wider view of British expansion into the New World. It was almost by accident that the author noticed certain patterns in the settlement of the West Indies that caused him to address the “gay history” that became the focus of the finished book. Unlike America, where settlers from England came to begin whole new lives, the attitude toward the Caribbean Islands was to get in, make money and to get back to “civilization” in England. Women were less likely to be included in the patterns of what was considered to be a temporary situation.
The author begins the book with an overview of British attitudes towards homosexual behavior in the 17th century, paints a vivid picture of life in England at the time and especially the prospects of the less wealthy, and provides a brief history of the British Navy with special attention to whom they recruited and how they did it. We are treated to an exhaustive look at the Caribe Isles, the evolution of pirate communities in that part of the world and ultimately to the probability that homosexual behavior was business as usual in this context. An impressive chronological bibliography allows the reader to follow the author’s development of the various conclusions and theories. Of special interest to gay historians is the section on Matelotage, a legally recognized form of gay marriage that had its roots in indentured servitude. SA

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 215 pages

This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia

Edited by Thomas Cushman and Stjepan G. Mestrovic

“‘We didn’t know.’ For half a century, Western politicians and intellectuals have so explained away their inaction in the face of genocide in World War II. In stark contrast, Western observers today face a barrage of information and images, from CNN, the internet and newspapers about the parties and individuals responsible for the current Balkan War and crimes against humanity. The stories, often accompanied by video or pictures of rape, torture, mass graves and ethnic cleansing, available almost instantaneously, do not allow even the most uninterested viewer to ignore the grim reality of genocide… This volume punctures once and for all common excuses for Western inaction.”

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 320 pages

Bad Habits: Drinking, Smoking, Taking Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Misbehavior and Swearing in American History

John C. Burnham

“An illustrated exposé of the growth of vice in America.”

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 385 pages

The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women

Kathleen Barry

Readers nurturing the illusion that Stalinism vanished from the world in the brick dust of the Berlin Wall owe themselves this package tour of the totalitarian mind, a veritable Baedeker to the P.C.-paranoid brain. To her credit, Barry (author of Female Sexual Slavery, of which this book is an update) does not pretend to be objective in her broad, shallow survey of sexual enslavement throughout the modern world. In her introduction, she identifies herself as an early supporter of what she calls “The Dworkin-Mackinnon Ordinance,” and lambastes her opponents in the “Feminist” Anti-Censorship Task Force (quotations hers) as “lesbian sadomasochists and heterosexual women hiding behind their own pornographic lives.”
A self-described “abolitionist” in regard to all forms of sex-for-hire, Barry no longer believes there to be any meaningful difference between “free” and “forced” prostitution. “Challenging that distinction,” she declares, “is central to my work today.” Lifting off from this position, the author takes the reader on a quick helicopter trip over the sad and sorry lives of female sex workers around the planet. Mail-order brides from the Philippines, child slaves in Bangkok brothels, police-registered prostitutes in the legal red-light districts of Germany, and American porn stars blur past as dark patches on Barry’s map of worldwide villainy, individual circumstances dismissed as mere distractions from the broad reality that unites them: “prostitution—the cornerstone of all female exploitation.”
In her view, prostitution exists neither to satisfy the sexual needs of men nor the financial needs of women, but rather to facilitate class enslavement by gender through the use of economic coercion and physical force. She dismisses the contrary opinions of women who consider themselves to be voluntary participants in the sex industry as “expressions of hopelessness.” That out of the way, Barry quickly moves on to join battle with her new classes of enemies: pro-prostitution “sex workers” and “sexual liberals who promote pornography as free speech and prostitution as consensual sex.” These individuals, she asserts without a blink, belong on the same list with “pimps… pornography purveyors, wife-beaters, child molesters, incest perpetrators, johns (tricks) and rapists.” Though the inductive leap from sexual liberals to rapists would seem breathtaking to many, it clearly doesn’t faze an author who finds much to admire in postwar Vietnam’s brutal anti-sex work campaign, which subjects recidivist female prostitutes to forcible “re-education.” And you thought I was joking about the Stalinism thing.
It’s easy enough to dismiss this book as additional mad rantings from a radical fringe of the feminist movement, more embarrassing to its friends than effective against its foes. Unfortunately, in her haste to indict intellectual heretics, Barry further obscures the very real evil she so vividly identified in her previous book. By falsely conflating the real experiences of San Fernando Valley porn stars and children abducted from Indian villages, she insults the dignity of the former while trivializing the desperation of the latter. Like the collectivist regimes for which she feels such nostalgia, Barry endangers her own cause by looking for enemies where none exist while overlooking the real ones nearby. IL

Publisher: NYU
Paperback: 381 pages