Summary of The Sexologist – Dane Kennedy

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Religion & Culture
Brent Hagerman

The Sexologist – Dane Kennedy  Richard Burton o First and most famous translation was the Kama Sutra – ancient Sanskrit guide to lovemaking (1883) o Followed by Ananga-Ranga (1885) then The Perfumed Garden (1886) o All were printed by a fictive organization to protect Richard Burton from legal prosecution o Deliberately provoked confrontation with British legality over The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885-86)  Not only offered public frank translation, but had footnotes about esoteric aspects of Islamic culture, especially sexual customs  Disintegration of the high Victorian moral and cultural consensus was a crisis of Victorian Identity  Muslim lands of North Africa became focus of parliamentary debates and press headlines as British occupied Egypt  Orientalism served as outlet for English who were dissatisfied with own society  Gave rise to two strands of British modernism o Transition from moral to psychological view of sexuality o Embrace of instinct and emotion as means of liberation  Burton had interest sexual practices of local peoples, especially when they contrasted with Western norms o Points of interest includes  Polygamy  Male and female circumcision  Prostitution  Eunichism  Abortion  Phallic worship o Unable to talk about these in Britain and was censored  Obscene Publications Act (1857) o Permitted authorities to issue warrants in search of pornographic publications  Harsh penalties were dealt o People skirted law by outsourcing publication  Customs Consolidation Act (1876)  Prohibited importation of obscene materials  Combination of imperialism, sadism and sexism suffused erotic interests of pornography’s British patrons o Sought to legitmate their colonizing desires through science, using it to advance pornographic agenda  Objectified women and non-white people, to naturalize them as naturally inferior o Reasonable to assume that Victorian attitudes regarding race, gender and other differences would leave mark on pornographic preoccupation  Presented foreign literature as evidence of superior sexual knowledge of other cultures, which recognized that women had sexual needs, men had sexual responsibilities, varied expressions of love The Sexologist – Dane Kennedy  Had views that Burton had bisexual or homosexual tendencies, but other people insisted he was a confirmed heterosexual and loving husband o Just had scientific interest in homosexuality  May be indications that he was attracted to men and have had sexual relations with them, though ambiguous o Gender separated Victorian social spheres may have encouraged level of intimacy that may be misinterpreted for homosexuality o Investigation of boy brothels hints at involvement in same-sex intercourse  Founded the Kama Shastra Society in early 1880s with Arbuthnot o Became personal campaign against forces of moral purity  Hired Bhugwuntal Indraji to translate and prepare composite translation of Kama Sutra o Burtn’s contribution only limited to polishing English text, adding annotations and maybe authoring/coauthoring preface  Had trouble getting it published in Britain o Published it through Kama Shastra Society to protect themselves and printer from prosecution  Mailed out private subscriptions, bypassing retail book trade  Law Amendment Act in 1885 o Raised age of sexual consent for females, outlawed procurement of women for prostitution o Imposed criminal penalties for sex between males  Created Mrs. Grundy – fictitious symbol of British propriety and priggishness o Gave female voice to his frustration o Used to further his campaign against British purity  Burton itching to fight with purity campaign, but knew he would lose if he used “sex manuals” o Had to find another way to bring concerns to public  Thousand Nights o Provided release from dull and commonplace consular dutie
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