Our Sexuality

By Jack Hafferkamp

Textbook writing is a difficult business these days. So much at stake. So many competing interests to consider. Given the domestic political climate, writing a textbook about sexuality almost seems like an act of self-immolation. At the very least an act begging frustration, irritation and no thanks later.

Fortunately, some pubishers are still working to do it right. Bless them. One is Wadsworth and its Eighth Edition of Our Sexuality by Robert Crooks and Karla Baur. It’s comprehensive, inviting, lively, readable, eye-grabbingly illustrated, chock full of useful information, and, mostly, unafraid. It has the confidence to tackle tough issues and questions thoughtfully. It’s clear-headed and unblinking. In fact, it’s so good it shouldn’t be wasted on college students exclusively. It should be standard issue for honeymooners, soccer moms, TV talk show hosts, Sunday school teachers, and the United States Congress.

Some of the confidence that exudes from Our Sexuality stems from being the 8th edition. You do a good job enough times and you get a pretty good handle on how to do it. The authors lay claim to a combined total of 57 years teaching, counseling and researching human sexuality, and the breadth of their expertise is apparent.

Part One jumps directly into the fray, examining media culture ("Female Sexuality in Music Videos"), the impact of cyberspace, sexuality and diversity. Crooks and Baur wisely use the attentions they have grabbed and explain how sex researchers know what they know about human sexual behavior. They explore sex research’s methods and problems. Then it’s off into the fray again: Gender issues.

Part Two talks about the biological bases of our sexuality, examining anatomy and physiology and sexual response. Part three explores sexual behaviors, from the idea of love and the development of sexual relationships to the range of sexual orientations.

Part Four looks at Sexuality and the human lifecycle, covering conception, childhood and adolescent sexuality, the adult years and contraception. Part Five looks into sexual problems and solutions. And Part Six concludes where we came in, with social issues -- atypical sexual behavior, sexual victimization and sex for sale.

If you have the responsibility for sexually educating an highschool upperclassman or college student, here’s a great tool The bibliography alone is worth the price.

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Our Sexuality Eighth Edition
By Robert Crooks and Karla Baur (Wadsworth Group, 2002. ISBN: 0-534-57978-7. 687 pages, hardcover, $85.95)

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