A couple of years ago, Lizzy Young, a vintage cookbook dealer based in Newport, Rhode Island, began to notice a growing market for erotic cookbooks — books that typically employ naughty visuals and heavily entendred recipes in the service of seduction through culinary prowess.
“Every time I put one up it sells really quick,” says Young. “The newer generation is interested in fun, kitschy, slapstick stuff.” These days, she adds, vintage cookbooks of this nature can go for up to $100 in her online shop, almost double what she could sell them for a few years ago. While it’s tempting to tie this current demand to the appeal of erotic cookbooks as gag gifts, that misses the role they play as cultural artifacts of changing attitudes toward sex and sexuality throughout American history.
According to Katharina Vester, a professor of history at American University, it can be hard to define what qualifies as an erotic cookbook, since literature linking food and sex dates back to ancient times. But to Vester, the author of A Taste of Power: Food and American Identities, the erotic cookbook’s modern era began in the 1950s with the launch of Playboy’s food and drinks column, which the magazine subsequently spun into a series of cookbooks. (Food & Wine, for what it’s worth, began its life in 1978 as a Playboy supplement.)
“I would argue that the erotic cookbook is an invention of the male cook,” Vester says — specifically a midcentury “playboy bachelor-type who doesn’t yet have a wife to cook for him, so he performatively shows his dominance and independence through pseudo-gourmet cooking for seduction.” As such, midcentury erotic cookbooks “were all about insinuating that if you cook for a woman, you can get her to bed,” she explains. As Thomas Mario, Playboy’s erstwhile food and drinks editor, once wrote, “The smell of burning apple wood and the crackling fire beneath the thick prime steaks makes her secretly swoon.”
Due to the era’s censorship and restrictive societal and cultural codes, cookbooks with a premise of food as a pathway to sex weren’t explicitly sexual. Where titles aimed at men framed cooking as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink way to get laid, those targeting women upheld marital bliss as the ultimate prize. According to Vester, this impulse to cast food and cooking as a “stand-in for heteronormative sexuality” dates back to the end of the 19th century, a time when there was a cultural push for unmarried women to use cooking “to find husbands, and for married women to find ways to keep their husbands.”
That said, there were some exceptions. Twelve years before she became the New York Times’ first female restaurant critic, Mimi Sheraton authored The Seducer’s Cookbook, a 1963 tome containing, as she wrote, “helpful and hilarious hints for situations into which men may lure women and vice versa.” Sheraton casts women as equal-opportunity seducers, something more or less unheard of at the time. “What we are concerned with here is the delectable and subtle art of luring, tempting, enticing, leading someone into going to bed with you in the most delightful way possible,” she writes. “For if the seduction is planned artfully, it can whet your sexual appetite in the same way that a piquant hor d’oeuvre prepares your palate for the main course to come.” Sheraton treats seduction cooking as perfectly acceptable outside of marriage, and offers ideas for what to make the morning after. There are cheeky illustrations of topless women sprinkled among the recipes for strawberries chantilly, shrimp bisque, and dandelion salad. Perhaps the most notable thing about this very notable book is the fact it was published at all.
In the ’70s, as sexual freedom filtered through American culture and the modern porn industry began to boom, erotic cookbooks also enjoyed something of a renaissance: Sex Pots…And Pans(1970), Fanny Hill’s Cook Book (1971), Lewd Food: The Complete Guide to Aphrodisiac Edibles (1974), Aphrodisiac Cookbook: Meals to Pep Up Your Love Life (1975),and Food for Lovers (1977) were just a few of the many titles published that decade. Some were campy, some pornographic, and some veered toward prudish, opting for coded language about love rather than direct discussions of seduction.
Lewd Food, which falls at the campy/pornographic end of the spectrum, describes itself as a book for “bawdy love games from stove to mattress” as well as for the “sex maniac’s quick weightloss lust diet.” At the more demure end is Aphrodisiac Cookery (1970), which accompanies its recipe for simmered milk with honey with a description of sweets as “proper fare for the sweetheart,” able to open the “body and soul of the receiver.” Similarly, the 1970 Lovers Dining — written by Irena Chalmers, a prolific and award-winning cookbook author — contains recipes that wouldn’t be out of place on the typical Valentine’s Day restaurant menu (clams casino, apricot parfait) but no outright sexual elements. Its intent is largely signaled by its title.
Although erotic cookbooks, with the exception of Playboy’s titles, have remained on the fringes of the cookbook publishing industry, today’s aficionados have nudged them ever so slightly toward more mainstream appreciation. You can find them on Instagram, where the account @70sdinnerparty posts vintage cookbook covers with names like Cooking in the Nude for Golf Lovers (clothes-free cooking, for the record, isn’t inherently sexual), and through cookbook sellers like Lizzy Young and Brooklyn’s Archestratus Books and Food. Meanwhile, the demand for bakeries making sex-themed treats, though not a new concept, is surging again.
The genre’s legacy has seeped into unlikely corners of popular culture. To help create the look of the titular magazine for Minx, HBO’s show about a fictional 1970s porn magazine for women, designer Elizabeth Goodspeed looked to her collection of ’70s-era romantic and erotic cookbooks, which she admires for their illustrative elements. “I’ve always been interested in collecting work that is hedonistic,” she says. “Food and sex, things that tap into base parts of being a human, in design tend to be dialed-up and kitschy more than other areas.”
Illustration was a general trend across the cookbook industry in the ’70s but one particularly well-suited to the genre, given its content and limited budgets. According to Goodspeed, the graphic design elements that distinguish the bulk of the era’s erotic cookbooks track with its corresponding trends in illustration, which was dominated by the psychedelia-tinged style of illustrators like Peter Max and Push Pin Studios. The 1979 Aphrodisia: A Guide to Sexual Food, Herbs, and Drugs, prefaces recipes intended to make readers “horny, hungry, and happy” with an illustrated cover that shows a naked man and woman sprouting from flowers that grow from a plate.
Charming as they can be, erotic cookbooks are not without their (sexist) baggage — just like many documents of our changing sexual mores. Many of them, no matter the era, are written through the male gaze, and for a cisgendered-heteronormative audience. As Vester notes, the erotic cookbooks marketed to men promote the notion of women being discardable and ingestible, not unlike a meal itself.
The problem, Emily Contois points out, isn’t confined to the erotic cookbook genre: it’s in the “dude masculinity” that fills the pages of many cookbooks aimed at men. “We tend to think of men cooking at home as egalitarian, as sharing food labor, but these ‘men’s cookbooks’ show how that sense of equal power doesn’t actually materialize,” says Contois, author of Diners, Dudes, and Diets: How Gender and Power Collide in Food Media and Culture. That failure is perfectly (if unfortunately) encapsulated by this Amazon review of ThePlayboy Gourmet: “My first impression of this book was, ‘Damn, where are all the naked ladies’…If you are single and like to cook and want to have sex with women you cook for then buy this book.”
That isn’t to say women haven’t exercised agency within the erotic cookbook genre. Along with Sheraton’s The Seducer’s Cookbook, titles such as the aforementioned Sex Pots…And Pans, Food For Love: What to Eat and Drink to Arouse Your Erotic Power (1968), and Dirty Dining: A Cookbook and More for Lovers (1993)attempt to position women as being in charge of their sexuality, through cooking.
But that doesn’t mean they should be used as a mirror for contemporary progressive ideas. “Some of the earlier erotic cookbooks were in some ways radical, but don’t necessarily stand the same test of time,” says Rachel Hope Cleves, a history professor who is writing a book about food and sexuality, with a section about the history of erotic cookbooks. She adds that we perhaps “ask too much of them,” to fit in today’s feminism.
Whatever their failings, erotic cookbooks — much like the broader erotica genre — can also function as an outlet for marginalized people to express themselves and find empowerment. Vester, who, like Cleves, has written about the history of the queer cookbook, points to the 1998 Lesbian Erotic Cookbook as an example: Written by and for women, it features recipes intended to nourish, along with photographs of naked female bodies that reject notions of mainstream beauty standards. Or consider The Men of Fire Island Present Hot Cookin, its pages scattered with photographs of partially nude gay men; published in 1994, amid the AIDS epidemic, it reads as a defiantly joyous celebration of body positivity. (Young, for her part, says it continues to sell well for her shop.)
Self-empowerment is similarly a focus for the new generation interested in vintage cookbooks. “Some of what our zine is trying to do is turn those tropes [of cooking to get a husband] on their heads and endorse baking for our own hedonistic pleasure, instead of thinking about it as the sort of simple thing to be offered up to a husband or as a mode of seduction,” Tanya Bush, a baker and the co-founder of the self-published Cake Zine, whose first issue is called “Sexy Cake,” told Eater.
That kind of sex positivity has found its way into the food media, too. After leaving her job at the food blog the Takeout at the start of the year, the James Beard Award-nominated writer Allison Robicelli decided to bet on herself and start what she calls “a serialized NSFW food-centric erotic soap opera, with recipes” in the form of a Substack newsletter. “It’s like Fifty Shades erotica with food,” Robicelli explains. It’s been especially cathartic for her to create content about women 40 and older, who are too often left out of horny discourse.
Now, Robicelli is working on an erotic cookbook that she hopes to sell to a publisher. “Everyone knows food can be disastrous in the bedroom, [but] I love that playfulness and silliness,” she says — it’s something, she adds, that can be missing from food publications. Robicelli imagines that the recipes in her forthcoming cookbook will diverge from the conventions of what qualifies as horny food. “It goes beyond oysters and that kind of thing,” she says of aphrodisiacs. Later, over email, she offers a case in point: “A sloppy sandwich is the sexiest food known to humankind. Seriously, eat a pastrami sandwich in bed and tell me how good it feels. (You don’t need a partner for this).”
If Robicelli succeeds, her cookbook will be one of the scant few contemporary examples of the genre; so far, the younger generation’s love of vintage titles hasn’t translated to a demand for new ones. And no matter how much erotic cookbooks may wax and wane in popularity, they will emphatically remain not for everyone. When approached for comment for this story, the owner of a lauded New York City vintage cookbook shop replied, “Thanks, for asking, but—ick!” Nevertheless, she was later kind enough to share a list of titles that might be worth exploring.
“And,” she wrote, “that’s all I have to say on the subject (gag).”
Clay Hickson is an illustrator living in Los Angeles, California. He is also the owner/operator of Caboose, a small publisher of mediocre quality.
In retrospect, the protagonist Sarah names her first unborn fetus Antonio. Sarah’s abortion is complicated by social pressure to keep an affair with her sister’s husband a secret. Choosing to name the fetus encapsulates her search for love and identity. She imagines herself as an “almost-mother” to a strong and loving boy with whom she can share the world. Antonio becomes an antidote for her loneliness.
But Sarah’s desire to be a writer marks her as an unusual woman, a monstrosity. The aborted fetus also personifies the fear she has of finding value in the world as an author rather than a mother. As literary scholar Cinda Gault suggests, Sarah is someone who imagines the domestic sphere as being prison-like and incarcerating women based on “assumptions about sexuality and reproduction.”
Sarah’s multiple abortions are literally related to her unease with gendered expectations. They also figuratively represent her self-sabotage as a writer. Only when she comes to understand her identity, seeking another abortion to sustain her independence, can she overcome her abortive tendencies as a writer.
Lee’s discussion demonstrates the complexity and charged nature of abortion as a cultural metaphor. He asks, when a particular fetus is seen as embodying our collective future: “Who would, after all, come out for abortion or stand against reproduction, against futurity, and so against life?”
In asking this question, Lee scrutinizes how “the queer,” seen as aligned with pro-choice advocacy, is positioned to embody “a relentlessly narcissistic, antisocial and future-negating drive.”
Abortion comes to stand in for monstrosity. Cells that have the ability to express as nerve, bone and organ tissue (read: brain and heart) get imaginatively conceived as a squirming, breathing baby, the hope for our future and survival.
The character Janine confesses to being traumatically “gang-raped at fourteen.” She testifies to having had an abortion, while the narrator, June, remembers her pro-choice mother coming back from “the abortion riots” bruised and bleeding.
Although not seeking an abortion, June still wants her right to choose not to be raped and to choose when, how and with whom she shares her reproductive abilities as they impact her future. In Atwood’s novel, Gilead terminates the freedom of individuals with viable uteruses — it “aborts” women’s futures.
Engel, Atwood and other writers aren’t simply interested in whether abortion is right or wrong. They want to know how abortion gets entwined with love, hate, despair and joy, with sexuality and desire, with abuse, violence and histories of colonialism and patriarchy.
They examine how abortion becomes a part of the analogies and metaphors through which we imagine the future. And, as women, they want to know whether they’ll have a choice in how their own futures unfold.
Historians are rediscovering one of the most important LGBTQ activists of the early 20th century—an Asian Canadian named Li Shiu Tong. You probably don’t know the name, but he was at the center of the first wave of gay politics.
Much has been written about Li’s older boyfriend, Magnus Hirschfeld. He was a closeted German doctor and sexologist who became famous in the 1930s as a defender of gay people. In books on Hirschfeld, Li is usually just a footnote.
But as I found in my research, Li was a sexologist and activist in his own right. And in my view, his ideas about sexuality speak to our moment better than his much more well-known boyfriend’s do.
When Li died in Vancouver in 1993, his unpublished manuscript about sexuality was thrown in the trash. Luckily, it was rescued by a curious neighbor and eventually ended up in an archive. Since then, only a handful of people, myself included, have read it.
In its pages is a theory of LGBTQ people as the majority that would resonate with a lot of young people today.
Student and mentor
Born in 1907 in Hong Kong, Li was a 24-year-old studying medicine at a university in Shanghai when he met Hirschfeld. Then 63 years old, Hirschfeld had come to China to give public lectures about the science of sex. The year was 1931.
The Shanghai newspapers billed Hirschfeld as the world’s foremost expert on sexuality. Li must have seen the papers, because he made sure to catch Hirschfeld’s very first lecture. In medical school, Li had read all he could about homosexuality, then a very controversial topic. He had often encountered Hirschfeld’s name, and he knew his reputation as a defender of homosexuals. Whether he suspected that the famous sexologist was gay is a mystery. Almost no one in the 1930s could afford to be out—the revelation would have destroyed either man’s career.
The lecture that afternoon was hosted by a Chinese feminist club at a fancy, modern apartment building. When Hirschfeld finished speaking, Li came up and introduced himself. He offered to be his assistant. It was the beginning of a relationship that would profoundly shape gay history, as well as the rest of both of their lives.
With Li by his side, Hirschfeld spoke all over China. Li then accompanied Hirschfeld on a lecture tour around the world, traveling first class on ships to Indonesia, the Philippines, South Asia, Egypt and beyond.
This was the first time in world history that anyone told so many people that being gay was not a bad thing and was, in fact, an inborn and natural condition.
A love affair and professional collaboration
On the world tour, the two fell in love, though to everyone else, they passed as teacher and student. Hirschfeld decided to make Li his successor. The plan was for Li to return to Berlin with him, train at his Institute for Sexual Science and carry on his research after his death.
Their shared dream was not to be. When they reached Europe, Hirschfeld realized he could never go back to his home in Berlin. Adolf Hitler was chancellor. The Nazis were after Hirschfeld because he was Jewish and because of his left-wing views on sexuality. He went into exile in France.
Li stayed by his side and helped him write a memoir of their travels. It is a stunning departure from Hirschfeld’s earlier work, which trades in racist thinking—containing, for example, the claim that Black Americans had stunted brains.
In the book he wrote with Li’s help, a different Hirschfeld emerges. The text denounces imperialism—for example, calling British rule in South Asia “one of the greatest political injustices in all of the world.” Hirschfeld even saw a link between gay rights and the struggle against imperialism: Both grew out of an undeniable human yearning for freedom.
After Hirschfeld died in France in 1935, his will named Li, then a student at the University of Zurich, his intellectual heir.
Hirschfeld was the most famous defender of gay people the world had yet known. But when Li died in Vancouver in 1993, it seems no one realized his connection to gay rights.
Li’s vision of sexuality reemerges
Yet Li’s rediscovered manuscript shows he did become a sexologist, even though he never published his findings.
In his manuscript, Li tells how after Hirschfeld died, he spent decades traveling the world, carrying on the research and taking detailed notes while living in Zurich, Hong Kong and then Vancouver.
The data he gathered would have startled Hirschfeld. Forty percent of people were bisexual, he wrote, 20 percent were homosexual and only 30 percent percent were heterosexual. (The last 10 percent were “other.”) Being trans was an important, beneficial part of the human experience, he added.
Hirschfeld thought bisexuals were scarce and that even homosexuals were only a minor slice of the population—a “sexual minority.” To Li, bisexuals plus homosexuals were the majority. It was lifelong heterosexuals who were rare—so rare, he wrote, that they “should be classified as an endangered species.” Li found same-sex desire to be even more common than had sexologist Alfred Kinsey, whose studies identified widespread bisexuality.
Recent polling finds LGBTQ-identifying people at lower percentages, but it also points to the numbers rising. According to a Feburary 2022 Gallup poll, they’ve doubled over the last ten years. That same poll found that almost 21 percent of Gen Z Americans (people born between 1997 and 2003) identify as LGBTQ.
Some critics have suggested that these numbers reflect a fad. That’s the explanation given by the pollster whose very small survey found that about 40 percent of Gen Z respondents were LGBTQ.
Li’s vision conveys a more likely explanation: Same-sex desire is a very common part of human experience across history. Like Hirschfeld argued, it is natural. Unlike what he thought, however, it is not unusual. When Li was a young man in the 1930s, there was a very strong pressure not to act on same-sex desires. As that pressure lessened across the 20th century, more and more people seem to have embraced LGBTQ identities.
Why didn’t Li publish his work? I’m not sure. Perhaps he hesitated because his findings were so different from his mentor’s. In my book, I investigate another possibility: how the racism in Hirschfeld’s earlier work may have dissuaded Li from carrying on his legacy.
Yet Li’s theory was ahead of his time. A queer Asian Canadian at the heart of early gay politics, a sexologist with an expansive view of queerness and transness, he is a gay hero worth rediscovering.
Laurie Marhoefer is a historian of sexuality and the author of a new biography of Li Shiu Tong and Magnus Hirschfeld.
A state-licensed chiropractor with a history of sex offenses has agreed to stop seeing patients due to new criminal charges alleging he assaulted a minor in his clinic.
Court records indicate that in April, Bruce Lindberg of the Family Chiropractic Clinic in Ottumwa was charged by police with simple assault. Prosecutors allege he provided chiropractic services to minor without permission, and then hugged the victim and kissed the victim on the top of the head. The victim “found the contact to be offensive,” according to prosecutors.
Lindberg has entered a plea of not guilty in the case.
Last week, the parents of the alleged victim, who is a 10-year-old boy, filed a civil lawsuit against Lindberg. The suit alleges that in February, their son accompanied an adult friend of the family to Lindberg’s Ottumwa clinic. Without the permission of the child or his parents, Lindberg allegedly took the boy into a private examination room, instructed him to remove his shirt, and began massaging his back with lotion.
The lawsuit claims that at the conclusion of the massage, Lindberg hugged and kissed the boy and told him he was “beautiful,” “adorable” and “the prettiest boy in the world.”
The boy allegedly reported Lindberg’s conduct to his parents and, according to the lawsuit, Lindberg subsequently apologized to the family. The lawsuit accuses Lindberg of assault, battery, malpractice and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Lindberg has yet to file a response to the lawsuit.
Lindberg’s attorney in the criminal case is now seeking a change of venue, noting that articles about Lindberg’s past convictions and a screenshot of Lindberg’s past placement on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry were posted online recently in the wake of Lindberg’s April arrest.
“Commenters shared Dr. Lindberg’s prior placement on the Sex Offender Registry to support their claim that because Dr. Lindberg offended in the past, he must have offended this time as well,” the motion for a change of venue states. “The public engagement with media coverage of Dr. Lindberg’s arrest shows that the community has largely and unfairly formed opinions about Dr. Lindberg’s guilt. Not only have they formed opinions of his guilt, but they have disseminated a significant amount of detail about Dr. Lindberg’s prior offense, which would not be admissible at trial.”
A hearing in the case is scheduled for June 9.
Previous allegations of abuse
The available court records indicate that in June 1989, Lindberg was charged with five counts of lascivious acts with a child. Seven months later, additional charges of indecent contract with a child and lascivious acts with a child were filed.
Then, in April 1990, prosecutors and Lindberg agreed to a deal that resulted in him pleading guilty to two counts of indecent contact with a child and two counts of indecent exposure. In court, he admitted that he touched a child who was then under the age of 14, in the groin area for his own sexual satisfaction.
Lindberg was then sentenced to six years of probation, subject to a number of conditions including one that stipulated he was to provide an annuity of $5,000 for each of the eight children he had allegedly abused.
Court records indicate the victims in the 1989 case were minors, some of whom were high school athletes, and that some were patients of Lindberg.
After his conviction, Lindberg was excluded from the Medicare program. He later appealed that decision to an administrative law judge who ruled against him. In his decision, the judge wrote that Lindberg “did not confine his sexual misconduct with these children only to situations where the illicit touching occurred under the guise of legitimate chiropractic treatments. He often engaged in sexual molestation of children in the sauna at his home, while engaged in water sports, and in his car while driving the children to their homes.”’
Months after he was convicted in the 1989 criminal case, the Iowa Board of Chiropractic initiated disciplinary proceedings against Lindberg. Despite the nature of the criminal charges and Lindberg’s admission to the court, the board accused Lindberg only of making lewd or suggestive “remarks or advances” to seven minors who were his patients. As part of that case, Lindberg agreed in 1991 to surrender his license indefinitely pending the completion of counseling and periodic evaluations.
At some point, the board reinstated Lindberg’s license.
Last week, the board, citing the arrest in April, announced it had reached an agreement with Lindberg. The board has agreed to refrain from initiating any disciplinary action against him while the criminal charges are pending. At the same time, Lindberg has agreed to voluntarily refrain from practicing chiropractic, which technically means his license has now been suspended.
The suspension is to remain in effect until the order is lifted by the board.
Picture the scene: You’re an adolescent positively groaning with hormones. You and your family are sitting on the couch debating what to watch. You settle on something seemingly innocent. “It’s got dragons in it”, your dad says, “it’s supposed to be very good.” Your mum replies wearily with a nod and a smile. For a while, everything feels pretty ordinary. Then, two of the characters start eyeing each other up hungrily. Your dad shuffles his newspaper and clears his throat loudly, but it’s no good. As the characters begin furiously rutting, a dreadful realisation comes over you: At this very moment, you and your parents are all watching soft porn as if it’s the BBC news.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when TV was pretty much absent of sex. So what changed? We’d like to take you on a journey through television history to explore how depictions of sex and sexuality have changed over the years.
1950s television wasn’t what you’d call liberal. TV censorship was corset-tight, meaning that on-screen couples weren’t even allowed to be shown (heaven forbid) sleeping in the same bed. I Love Lucy is the perfect example. The lead characters, Lucy and Ricky, were always shown lying alongside one another in two separate beds, even though actors Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were married in real life. Lucy wasn’t even allowed to use the word ‘pregnant’, always referring to herself as being ‘with child’ or ‘having a baby’.
In the 1960s, a relaxation of moral censorship allowed TV to become more open to the idea of discussing sexuality. The BBC aired Ken Loach’s Up The Junction in 1965 as part of its The Wednesday Play series. The drama follows three young women, Rube, Sylvie and Eileen, who live and work in Battersea, London. The programme sparked moral panic among more conservative viewers for its discussion of sexual relationships outside of marriage and depiction of a back-street abortion.
By The 1970s, couples were not only sharing mattresses but talking about sex, sexuality and contraception. But despite this new openness to discussions surrounding sex, the act itself was still rarely depicted on-screen. Take I, Claudius, for example, one of the most memorable moments of which is when Messalina challenges a member of the Guild of Prostitutes to have sex with as many men as she can. It’s the kind of merry bonking the makers of Game of Thrones would have loved. However, in I Claudius, all of the action occurs behind closed doors. Still, it was pretty strong stuff for the time.
Things took a step backwards in the 1980s. While TV networks did their best to bring previously closeted discussions about sex into the open air, most of the stories focused on beautiful cis people having heteronormative sex. At the same time, shows began leaning into anti-sex narratives, portraying sex as a taboo act to be avoided unless those participating were willing to wrap themselves in three inches of bubble wrap. This trend continued into the 1990s. Shows like TeenNick’s Degrassi: The Next Generation frequently focused on the negative aspects of a sexually active lifestyle, such as STIs, teen pregnancy and assault.
The 1990s also saw an increased focus on female sexuality. With the fight against sexual inequality supposedly won, the world was introduced to a new kind of sexually liberated woman. TV networks scurried to cater for this wave of ‘post feminists’, for whom sexual promiscuity was a political act. Grey’s Anatomy, with its cunnilingus scenes, lesbian relationships and coining of the term ‘Vajayjay’, is a prime example. Then there’s Sex And The City, the protagonist of which is a female sex columnist who – somewhat unsurprisingly – has a hell of a lot of sex. Although why anyone thought Carrie Bradshaw would make a good sex columnist, I don’t know. Her view of sex is extremely limited. Not only does she not believe in bisexuality, but she also teases her friends about their sexual encounters and publically shames one of her own sexual partners for his kinks.
The 2000s placed even more focus on the sex lives of women. Tipping The Velvet, which featured Keeley Hawes as a cross-dressing Victorian music hall star called Kitty, sparked outrage among Daily Mail readers for its various lesbian sex scenes. The show’s depiction of a female orgasm was something of a watershed moment, as was Secret Diary of A Call Girl, which was at once an admirable attempt to redefine the portrayal of sex workers on TV and an excuse for leary men to see Billie Piper in her underwear. But compared to what was about to follow, it was all relatively tame.
In the 2010s, HBO shows like Masters of Sex,Game of Thrones and Girls made the act of shagging a very big deal Indeed. As well as featuring three or four beheadings per episode, the first few seasons of Game of Thrones contain incredible amounts of full-frontal nudity, multiple depictions of rape, and countless sun-baked orgies.
In the present day, shows like Sex Education and Big Mouth have done an excellent job of reimagining the sex-centric teen drama, bringing an honest, respectful and hilarious tone to a once-clinical genre. Both shows’ use of comedy has allowed them to engage with young people on their own terms, and o discuss issues like safe sex, assault and healthy sexual relationships openly and honestly. Phew. Clearly, a lot has changed since the ’50s.
The recently leaked draft of a majority Supreme Court opinion suggesting that the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is on the verge of being struck down has flung controversial abortion advocate and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger back to the forefront of the abortion debate.
Sanger, a birth control activist and nurse who founded what became Planned Parenthood in 1916, has been mentioned by many conservatives on social media following the leaked SCOTUS opinion last week.
Sanger’s controversial writings and the uproar that resulted from them over the years caused Planned Parenthood to disavow her in a New York Times op-ed last year.
Sanger was a staunch supporter of eugenics, which was a popular method of supporting selective breeding that often targeted people of color and the disabled.
“It is said that the aboriginal Australian, the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development, has so little sexual control that police authority alone prevents him from obtaining sexual satisfaction on the streets,” Sanger wrote in an essay titled, “What Every Girl Should Know.”
Sanger’s writings contain support for “stopping” the “reproduction of the unfit,” sterilization programs carried out by the Nazis. She was also a featured guest of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Seemingly every new approach to the great problem of the human race must manifest its vitality by running the gauntlet of prejudice, ridicule and misinterpretation. Eugenists may remember that not many years ago this program for race regeneration was subjected to the cruel ridicule of stupidity and ignorance,” Sanger wrote in 1921. “Today Eugenics is suggested by the most diverse minds as the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems. The most intransigent and daring teachers and scientists have lent their support to this great biological interpretation of the human race. The war has emphasized its necessity.”
Planned Parenthood said last year that it can “no longer make excuses or apologize” for Sanger’s writings and actions but “can’t simply call her racist, scrub her from our history, and move on.”
“We must examine how we have perpetuated her harms over the last century – as an organization, an institution, and as individuals,” the nation’s largest abortion provider stated.
Fox News Digital reported this week that Planned Parenthood had been silent as to how they have examined Sanger’s past since denouncing her.
A report by the anti-abortion Life Issues Institute indicated in 2017 that a spate of new Planned Parenthood “mega-centers” targeted women of color.
“Our research revealed that an alarming 88% (22 of 25) target women of color. Disturbingly, 80% target Black communities, 56% target Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods and 80% target one or more colleges. In total, 96% (24 of 25) of the mega-centers target women of color, college women, or both,” it claimed.
Some 39% of Planned Parenthood patients are people of color, with Latinos outnumbering people who identify as Black, according to Planned Parenthood. The organization hasn’t elaborated on how many of its 300,000-plus abortions every year are performed on Black mothers.
Planned Parenthood did not immediately respond to a request for contact from Fox News.
Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.