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Sex, perverts and pop culture

Volume 7 Number 7 July 11 - August 7 2011

Part-Time Perverts starts from the premise that everyone is exposed to a continual barrage of representations of sexual perversion. Our involvement, Melbourne academic, Dr Lauren Rosewarne contends, is universal, but our management strategies cover a spectrum of behavioural possibilities. By Zoe Nikakis.

Dr Lauren Rosewarne’s new book, Part-Time Perverts: Sex Pop Culture, and Kink Management (Praeger 2011, RRP $49.95) while not for everybody, is about everybody.

The book, she writes, is about “people and pop culture and sex and society. It is a book about kink management”.

An interdisciplinary exploration of sexual perversion in everyday life, the book focuses on perverse sexual fantasies and the techniques people use to manage them.

It is based on the premise that, for better or for worse, everyone is exposed to a continual barrage of subliminal and overt representations of perversion.

Our involvement, the author contends, is universal, but our management strategies cover a spectrum of behavioural possibilities from total repression to total immersion, and the chapters progressively move through these strategies, from repressing, denying and damning perversion in Chapter 2 to Chapter 7, “Too Much Love: Perversion Overload and retreat”.

Far from a typical academic text, Rosewarne’s book marries academic analysis and critical thinking, and feminist and social theory with personal anecdotes and experiences. It’s an unlikely and startling combination – the introduction, ‘Sex. When it’s Fun and Kinky and Strange’, includes details of Rosewarne’s sex life and history, and then goes on to discuss Freud in popular culture and his theories of fetish and substitution as alternatives to acting on perverse desires.

This unusual writing style and topic makes for an unusual read, but certainly an interesting and challenging one.

It is certainly a comprehensive look at perversion in popular culture: A separate media index covers movies from Yentl and Grease to The Killer Inside Me and The Crying Game, as well as documentaries and television shows, theatre, songs and albums.

Rosewarne ultimately concludes the book as personally as she began it. For her, she says, “choosing not only to not critique, but also to divulge, describe, and discuss demonstrates an interest that is more than passing.”

“From whip-wielding lingerie models, to songs about fisting, to films about threesomes to bondage in advertising, sex is everywhere; perversion equally so.

“Dodging it, dreaming about it, doing it again and again, our options for management are varied, complicated and thoroughly fascinating.”

And makes for a thoroughly fascinating read.