Read Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco by Josh Sides Online

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Since the 1960s, San Francisco has been America's capital of sexual libertinism and a potent symbol in its culture wars. In this highly original book, Josh Sides explains how this happened, unearthing long-forgotten stories of the city's sexual revolutionaries, as well as the legions of longtime San Franciscans who tried to protect their vision of a moral metropolis. ErotiSince the 1960s, San Francisco has been America's capital of sexual libertinism and a potent symbol in its culture wars. In this highly original book, Josh Sides explains how this happened, unearthing long-forgotten stories of the city's sexual revolutionaries, as well as the legions of longtime San Franciscans who tried to protect their vision of a moral metropolis. Erotic dancers, prostitutes, birth control advocates, pornographers, free lovers, and gay libbers transformed San Francisco's political landscape and its neighborhoods in ways seldom appreciated. But as sex radicals became more visible in the public spaces of the city, many San Franciscans reacted violently. The assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were but the most brazen acts in a city caught up in a battle over morality. Ultimately, Sides argues, one cannot understand the evolution of postwar American cities without recognizing the profound role that sex has played. More broadly, one cannot understand modern American politics without taking into account the postwar transformation of San Francisco and other cities into both real and imagined repositories of unfettered sexual desire....

Title : Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780195377811
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco Reviews

  • Nils
    2019-01-24 05:02

    A workmanlike history of sexual (and to a lesser extent, gender) nonconformism in San Francisco, which makes the case that sexual and political radicalism have always been bedfellows in San Francisco. There has always been a sizable subculture of sexual deviance in the City, but in the 1960s beginning with the hippies a lot of theatre and stigma dropped away, albeit to the face of great resistance by the old school Catholic political establishment, led by the likes of Dianne Feinstein, who campaigned unsuccessfully in the 1970s to prevent open sex work and sex shops along Market and Broadway, and more successfully in the 1980s to close gay bathhouses in the face of the AIDS epidemic. (The sexual revolution, particularly for gays, was also attended by significant interpersonal violence, often perpetrated by working class youth.)As with many urban histories, the book suffers from a lack of comparative frame: how much was the sexual revolution in San Francisco part of a larger national trend, the leading edge of that trend, or a true outlier? The book never really attends to such questions, preferring to dwell in local anecdote and color.

  • Boyce
    2018-12-27 03:24

    San Francisco native Josh Sides has written a very interesting "sexual" history of SF. From Barbary Coast Days thru the sexual freedom days, Gay revolution, AIDS and today's massage parlors, the story is more complex than you might think. Entertaining and enlightening.

  • Alissa
    2019-01-09 04:07

    An enlightening portrait of the dynamic changes of San Francisco. Manages to look systematically and critically about how changing attitudes towards sex, sexuality and gender identity play out politically and culturally with a consistent look at the different impacts across racial and gender lines. There's a very critical take on second wave feminism and the systematic exclusion of transgender people. There's also a good amount of attention turned to bisexual activism and visibility. I might have liked to see a bit more on the role of BDSM, but that's a pretty minor complaint (and the Society of Janus is discussed and has plenty of resources on their website). It would also have been great to see more about how different Asian communities in the city were impacted, since that's such a large and visible minority in SF.

  • Chuck
    2018-12-27 21:16

    While cities in the United States tend to be fairly progressive when it comes sexuality and gender, San Francisco is doubtlessly the most progressive of them all. It is fabled for its tolerance and more closely identified with sexual liberation—particularly gay liberation—than any other city in the world. As such, it is a major destination for sexual radicals of all types and often used as a symbol of freedom or decline, depending on your perspective, in national battles over sexual mores.But how exactly did it become such a city and at the cost of what efforts?Josh Sides’s outstanding, newish book, Erotic City Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco, goes a long way toward answering these questions and will likely be the definitive work on the topic for years to come. Though focused particularly on the sexual revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s, his study goes as far back as the skirmishes between sex radicals and conservatives in the mid-nineteenth century and right up to the debates about same-sex marriage that Proposition 8 sparked in 2008. It is truly comprehensive.There are essentially three protagonists in the book: sex radicals, who self-consciously sought to transform sexual relationships; people employed in the sex industry (prostitutes, pornographers, etc), whose livelihoods put them at odds with prevailing norms; and conservatives. Sides’s sympathies clearly lay with the radicals but, to his credit, he concentrates on chronicling a story, not promoting a cause.Sides shows not only that San Francisco’s sexual physiognomy changed over the years, but also helps explain why it changed. He does this not by focusing on major figures—Harvey Milk, for example—or the vicissitudes of legislation, but rather by looking at the manifold and often subterranean efforts made by activists, partisans, and even those unwittingly thrown into the drama, all of which cumulatively shifted the sexual tides of the city.To do this, he had to conduct a prodigious amount of research and, indeed, he did: Sides draws from memoirs, newspaper records, interviews, direct observation, among many other sources. And yet, for all his scholarly thoroughness, the book remains highly readable and communicates that a moral drama of great import played out in the streets and bedrooms and barrooms of San Francisco.Whether you are a scholar of sexual radicalism or just curious about the Bay Area, you will want to grab a copy of Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco.

  • Michael T.
    2018-12-25 05:09

    This was fun and interesting. I had thought that San Francisco had it's wild, "anything goes" reputation continually since the days of the Gold Rush & the Barbary Coast. It turns out not to be the case. Between the 1906 earthquake & fire and the Summer of Love, San Francisco was not considered more of a city of libertines than any other major population center in the US. The Castro district, for instance, before 1970, was working class and primarily Irish & Catholic --the very demographic from whence came Dan White, murderer of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. And Josh Sides lays out pretty convincingly that , while Dan White was the most horrifyingly real incarnation of it, there was during the era of the late 70's, a climate of vigilantism, throughout the country, but particularly in San Francisco (no accident, for instance, that Dirty Harry was shot there) reflecting the tension of how far the sexual revolution was going to go in displacing the older, more conservative order. Dan White was the real life culmination of all of those tensions. A fascinating account & analysis, Well worth reading. Also a plus if, like myself, you are familiar with all the neighborhoods in San Francisco, and want to know more about their specific histories & evolution.

  • Evan
    2019-01-23 00:59

    It's interesting as hell, and it told me a lot of stuff I didn't know or hadn't realized. (Sides' main point is that shit started getting heavy in San Francisco when sexual liberation extended past the neighborhoods that had been more or less designated for that purpose since the founding of the city [the Barbary Coast and the Tenderloin] into areas of the city that had previously had a tamer, more domesticated identity, such as the Haight and the Castro. I'd never thought about what those neighborhoods were like before the hippies and the gays, respectively, took them over; I guess I would have assumed that there wasn't much there, but of course that wasn't so. I also didn't realize how pervasive the theme of San-Francisco-as-Sodom-and-Gomorrah was in pop culture in the Nixon era, even before the hippie thing started really happening ... Dirty Harry and all that ... I always thought of the "San Francisco values" sneer as a more recent invention, but, again, duh, it wasn't.) But I wished it had been written by someone with a prose style more suited to the jazzy subject matter. Instead it's academic, scholarly. Eventually someone'll redo it as farce.

  • 6655321
    2019-01-04 00:56

    i *really* liked some parts of this book, esp. part 1, but then parts of it delve into a really conservative politics of sexuality and there is some serious sensationalism regarding hippie lifestyles (which isn't a lifestyle that i have any affinity for but it still is unnecessarily alarmist and shrill to claim it was common to dose children with LSD much as its apologist to claim this *never* happened) and some uncomfortable politics regarding POCs hostile response to gentrification that collapses the distinction between "anti-gentrification violence" (which, yes, in some cases had homophobic overtones) and like, the maintenance of white enclaves which aren't exactly the same thing... worth reading but some parts are kinda side eye worthy?also like a lot of books on gay and lesbian sexual history trans* folx are completely written out for the most part, but i think that's part for the course...

  • Emily
    2019-01-15 05:01

    Unlike other urban scholars who paint race as the key driver of city transformation, Sides argues that changes in sexual culture and morality, articulated by specific sexual radicals, drove the changing landscape of San Francisco. Full of interesting detail -- from the Barbary Coast to the Castro to sex positivist lesbian pornography -- Sides argues that the sexual revolution is not yet over and continues to change the Bay Area cityscape.