The opening line of Julie Peakman’s The Pleasure’s All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex is, ‘One person’s perversion is another’s normality.’ Anyone who isn’t completely straight or vanilla can get behind that, I think. What feels natural to you makes your neighbour curl their lip in disgust.
Who asked for their judgmental opinion, anyway? Right?
Well, throughout history, everyone. The courts and God were the big ones, though. The ones who were really going to ruin your day with things like torture and death. They wanted to know what you were up to and how frequently and with whom so they could fry your behind. Literally. Because nothing is more fun than being in your neighbours’ business (in the name of holy justice, of course) to make sure they’re not having more fun than you are.
It was also important to be sure everyone was behaving within the current prescribed norms. Different is bad and must be punished. Of course what qualified as ‘different’ and ‘bad’ evolved throughout history.
The Pleasure’s All Mine is about those different and bad things (read: activities to do with your no-no zone) and how public, religious and legal perceptions changed over time.
Review by Paige La Marchand, originally posted here