How Sex Became a Civil Liberty
How Sex Became a Civil Liberty
Opis: How Sex Became a Civil Liberty - Leigh Ann Wheeler
Sexual revolutions have transformed American culture, society, and politics-not to mention individual lives-throughout the twentieth century. Sex radicals challenged Victorian restraint and championed sexual liberation. In the process, they confronted a tightly knit web of legal restrictions on sexual expression and conduct designed to keep sex out of the public realm and to allow public officials to police sex in private spaces. The American Civil Liberties Union has stood at the center of these battles, using the Constitution to create an expansive body of sexual rights that helped lay the old order to rest. How Sex Became a Civil Liberty is the first book to show how ACLU leaders and attorneys forged legal principles that advanced the sexual revolution. It explains how, why, and to what effect ACLU activists developed and revised their own policies, adopted sexual expression and practice as civil liberties, persuaded courts to do the same, and joined with commercial media and others to promote these understandings of sexuality to a broader public. Through its influence over public discourse as well as law, the ACLU helped to establish a liberal, rights-based sexual ethos in the United States. It played a prominent role in nearly every major court decision related to sexuality and also reached beyond the courtroom to promote its agenda through grassroots activism, political action, advertising campaigns, and public education. Thanks to its work, abortion and birth control are legal, coerced sterilization is rare, sexually explicit material is readily available, and gay rights are becoming a reality. Using rich archival sources and interviews with major players, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty tells the story of the men and women who built the legal foundation for the sexual revolution. It explores how private lives shaped approaches to public policy and illuminates the importance of debates among activists-as well as between activists and their opponents-in shaping what we now consider to be our sexual rights. A story of tragedy as well as of triumph, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty shows how the ACLU helped to create our polarized sexual culture by collapsing old distinctions between public and private and privileging access to sexual expression over protection from it. Realizing how the result-a culture saturated with sex and a citizenry armed with sexual rights-liberates and also limits our sexual choices could help to transform fights over rights into productive conversations about how to shape the public world we share.
"Who would have thought a book about the ACLU could be so titillating? This book presents an interesting discussion from a unique perspective of the reasons behind the ACLU's adoption of positions that affect our lives today, delving into the story behind the American Civil Liberties Union's decision to pursue a privacy right argument on birth control, rape, sexual harassment, and gay rights.Timely and well written, this book introduces the reader to the story of how Americans gained a right to privacy under the United States Constitution." --Joan Burda, New York Journal of Books
"In a landmark treatise, Leigh Ann Wheeler traces the path of America's premier constitutional defender of free speech as it faced successive decades of new issues and equality movements: birth control; civil rights; feminist campaigns against sexual violence and harassment; gay rights; hate speech. Her meticulous account of the ACLU's internal struggles as it tried to embrace new approaches in law while remaining faithful to its original mission illuminates a host of sticky, ambivalent arguments and amicus briefs in which the right of privacy that the ACLU had championed appeared malleable while hardcore pornography in the workplace and online was protected with vigor. This is a thoughtful book for thoughtful people in a democracy where rights and liberties often collide."
--Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape
"In this thorough and compelling study, Leigh Ann Wheeler shows how men and women who themselves struggled to balance sexual freedom and sexual equality profoundly shaped our understandings of the Constitution, including the right to privacy. Paying close attention to conflicts among civil libertarians, she traces the evolution of the concept of sexual rights over the twentieth century, as the ACLU tackled subjects ranging from birth control to pornography, from gay rights to rape and sexual harassment. Clearly written and peINTRODUCTION ; CH 1 "WHERE ELSE BUT GREENWICH VILLAGE?": TAKING SEXUAL LIBERTIES, 1910S-1920S ; CH 2 "QUEER BUSINESS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION": DEFENDING UNCONVENTIONAL SPEECH ABOUT SEX, 1920S-1930S ; CH 3 "ARE YOU FREE TO READ, SEE, AND HEAR?": CREATING CONSUMER RIGHTS OUT OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT, 1940S-1950S ; CH 4 "TO BE LET ALONE IN THE BEDROOM": EXPANDING SEXUAL RIGHTS THROUGH PRIVACY, 1940S-1960S ; CH 5 "TO PRODUCE OFFSPRING WITHOUT INTERFERENCE BY THE STATE": MAKING REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM, 1960S-1970S ; CH 6 "WHAT'S HAPPENING TO SEXUAL PRIVACY?": EASING ACCESS TO SEXUAL EXPRESSION, 1960S-1970S ; CH 7 "SOLUTIONS MUST BE FOUND WITHIN CIVIL LIBERTARIAN GUIDELINES": PROTECTING AGAINST RAPE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT, 1970S-1990S ; CONCLUSION ; NOTES ; BIBLIOGRAPHY ; INDEX