Jeffrey J. Douglas

Jeffrey J. Douglas

Attorney at Law

The Politics Of Lust by John Ince is a remarkable contribution to the literature of both politics and sexuality.  It is a primer in understanding the interface between sexuality and power, not merely on the personal level - much has been written on this - but on all societal levels.

It is written in Aristotelean-like form, breaking down the topic into components and subparts.  For instance, he intones that there are four kinds of hierarchy: patriarchy, ethnic hierarchy, religious hierarchy and bureaucracy.  While this is off-putting at first, this uthoritative authorial voice serves its purpose well. The apodictical tone reduces the inflammatory nature of his thesis – sexual phobias define a society and are inherently destructive.

This book will be a wonderful classroom text.  It provides a wealth of material for both group discussion and individual writing assignments.  It will doubtlessly stimulate thoughtful discussion of topics rarely undertaken.  Is there  justification for society's rejection of so many manifestations of human sexuality?

Ince occasionally answers his questions in overly simplified yes and no answers.  On the other hand, so little of sexual restrictiveness and hostility is rationally based.  So often advocates of condemnation justify their positions with smug circular logic. ("Homosexuality is obviously bad because otherwise God would not condemn it"; or worse, "the evil is self-evident").  Such an absence of rational thinking makes it difficult to critique the opposing view with much depth.

In any case, Ince's political analysis is consistently thought provoking and original. He examines how various institutions benefit from their support of sexual restrictiveness.  For example, Ince points out that despite the apparent disadvantage of advocating positions to which the flock does not adhere, the Catholic Church's medieval sexual restrictiveness has an enormous payoff.  As long as the Church  maintains a monopoly of forgiveness through the confessional booth, it is ideal to have common ideation such as sexual thoughts be transformed into sin.  If even feeling lustful towards one's wife is adultery (Ince quoting Pope John Paul II), the Church is guaranteed lots of repeat business.

Analysis of the underpinnings of sexual mores is rare, and thoughtful analysis of the consequences of these restrictions is rarer still.  John Ince's The Politics of Lust is one of the most provocative intellectual works, not only in the field of sexuality, but available today.

Jeffrey J. Douglas
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Telephone: 310-576-3411
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