BookBrowse Reviews The Man Who Hated Women by Amy Sohn

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The Man Who Hated Women

Sex, Censorship, and Civil Liberties in the Gilded Age

by Amy Sohn

The Man Who Hated Women by Amy Sohn X
The Man Who Hated Women by Amy Sohn
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  • Published:
    Jul 2021, 400 pages

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Rose Rankin
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A revealing portrait of the man who made sex education and contraception illegal — and the social activists who fought back.

If debates over women's reproductive health seem stuck in an earlier era — the fact that birth control pills require a prescription when condoms don't, the furor over Plan B abortifacients being available over the counter, the heartbeat bills challenging Roe v Wade — it's because they are. American laws and regulations on reproductive health are still heavily influenced by ideas conflating sex education and contraception with pornography, a legacy from the late 19th century. In The Man Who Hated Women, Amy Sohn provides a much-needed retelling of how this came to be via the obsessive New York Postal Inspector Anthony Comstock and the eponymous "Comstock laws" that have cast a shadow over women's reproductive health ever since.

The book's title is hyperbole, but a forgivable instance of it. Comstock worshipped his deceased mother and his silent wife, but he didn't believe ...

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