Show 259: Dagmar Herzog – Sex in Crisis

Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics

From the Publisher:

“The Religious Right has fractured, the pundits tell us, and its power is waning. Is it true – have evangelical Christians lost their political clout? When the subject is sex, the answer is definitively no. Only three decades after the legalization of abortion, the broad gains of the feminist movement, and the emergence of the gay rights movement, Americans appear to be doing the time warp again. It’s 1950s redux. Politicians – including many Democrats – insist that abstinence is the only acceptable form of birth control. Fully fifty percent of American high schools teach a “sex education” curriculum that includes deceptive information about the prevalence of STDs and the failure rates of condoms. Students are taught that homosexuality is curable, and that premarital sex ruins future marital happiness. Afraid of sounding godless, American liberals have failed to challenge these retrograde orthodoxies.

“The truth is Americans have not become anti-sex, but they have become increasingly anxious about sex – not least due to the stratagems of the Religious Right. There has been a war on sex in America – a war conservative evangelicals have in large part already won. How did the Religious Right score so many successes? Historian Dagmar Herzog argues that conservative evangelicals appropriated the lessons of the first sexual revolution far more effectively than liberals. With the support of a multimillion-dollar Christian sex industry, evangelicals crafted an astonishingly graphic and effective pitch for the pleasures of “hot monogamy” – for married, heterosexual couples only. This potent message enabled them to win elections and seduce souls, with disastrous political consequences.”

Dagmar Herzog conducts transnational and comparative research on how religion and secularization have affected social and political developments in modern Europe. She is particularly attentive in her research to methodological innovations in critical source analysis and in gender and sexuality studies. Her two pioneering books, Intimacy and Exclusion: Religious Politics in Pre-Revolutionary Baden and Sex after Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany, present fresh interpretations of problems in modern Germany. Her interest in the holocaust and sexual politics led to her editorial work on Sexuality and German Fascism, a special issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality; Lessons and Legacies VII: She has also published in over twenty journals and edited volumes.

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