Book Review

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John Ince - The Politics of Lust

It isn't so unreasonable that the cover to John Ince's latest book, flaunting four exposed legs and the words, "The Politics of Lust," aroused my interest. In picking up this title, I expected to believe at least one or two arguments that might convince me to join the other side-to reject my societal inhibitions for more humanistic ones, and transform into a free-spirited sort of lover.

However, rather than the inspirational "Chicken Soup" approach I had hoped for, Ince takes a stronger, more hard-edged approach to explaining the "politics of lust."

Thoroughly researched, with approximately a chapter's worth of references, and charged with rhetorical emotion, Ince's activism clearly drives the development of the book. An attorney for sexual rights by trade, his view of the political landscape concerning erotic expression is quite cynical, and rightly so.

The fact remains that while the laws governing our democratic society have come a long way in recognizing human rights, there is still a considerable way to go, considering that your zip code currently dictates the extent to which you may exercise one of your most fundamental human instincts.

"The Politics of Lust" is a collection of attacks on erotophobia, the abnormal fear of sexual love, addressed through a series of sexually-related areas. Had he presented a complementary variety of arguments, Ince may have better served his many topics.

Instead, all 16 chapters of the book break down subjects such as genital censorship, mandatory monogamy, and homosexual hatred using a common formula that recycles a small handful of arguments. Though admittedly great arguments that sound revolutionary in the first chapter, they quickly lose their punch as early as the third, and you find yourself reciting his discourse before even beginning to scan the pages.

While "Lust" is mainly concerned with exposing the reader to the logical flaws inherent in the conditioned response to suppressing erotic expression, it does so by framing erotophobia as an unnecessary evil parallel to racism and other such socially driven discriminatory practices.

One of the arguments used by Ince is that patriarchal social systems breed erotophobia, which he breaks down quite eloquently akin to the following: males dominating women breeds a need for women to exercise dominance over their children, which they do by censoring exploratory anatomical exposure throughout adolescence. This, in effect, breeds even more erotophobia in a vicious cycle that Ince expects ever-evolving liberal views might someday impede.

Even though some of his discussions, particularly of public sex and porn come off parallel to an advertisement for legalizing marijuana, Ince's overall point is well grounded. After reading this book, I realize that although I may not want to conduct day to day business naked, "the way nature intended," or engage in particularly adventurous forms of sexual expression, it's perfectly plausible that others might.

And as an advanced society, maybe we should allow those that feel the need an opportunity to be naked while practicing the drums, or just plain tanning on a sunny day in their backyards. As long as it doesn't pose any imminent harm why should we as a society prevent our neighbors from enjoying their own property in the manner they choose?

Ince's book provides a rare, thoroughly knowledgeable discussion of the ills of erotophobia that incorporates psychological, political and sociological elements.

New to paperback, the book is a definite must-read for those perturbed by laws preventing adequate sexual expression and disrobing around large windows in the home.

Tanya Khiatani

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