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Saucy Stories: Pornography, Sexology and the Marketing of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, c. 1918-70

H. G. Cocks
Social History
Vol. 29, No. 4 (Nov., 2004), pp. 465-484
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4287124
Page Count: 20
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Saucy Stories: Pornography, Sexology and the Marketing of Sexual Knowledge in Britain, c. 1918-70
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Abstract

In early twentieth-century Britain the works of major sexologists such as Wilhelm Stekel, Marie Stopes and Norman Haire were sold, marketed and read alongside pornographic and obscene texts. This was the case long before the 'permissive society' broke down the formal barriers between these genres. This situation posed a particular problem for 'sex radicals' who sought to free human sexuality from the distortions and repressions of modern society. The law against obscene publications was based on a calculation of who could have access to obscene texts, and therefore who was likely to be 'depraved and corrupted'. Therefore if sexology was sold alongside pornography it, too, would be judged obscene. In order to establish their expertise, these 'sex reformers' had to disavow and condemn a new and thriving market in pornography and other obscene publications such as pulp magazines. In spite of their condemnation, the obscene print culture of Britain after 1918 acted as one of the principal means of marketing and selling 'serious' works of sexual instruction. The stand-off between sex radicalism and popular culture was resolved in the 1960s when former sex radicals enthusiastically embraced the 'new pornography' such as "Penthouse" and "Forum".

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