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Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland

Flyer for HIST event "Gender, Pleasure, and Violence" on April 14

Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland

History Wednesday, April 14, 2021 12:00 pm-1:00 pm

Behind the Iron Curtain, the politics of sexuality and gender were, in some ways, more progressive than the West. Even as Polish citizens clearly suffered under the oppressive totalitarianism of socialism, abortion was legal, clear laws protected victims of rape, and it was relatively easy to legally change one's gender. In Gender, Pleasure, and Violence, Agnieszka Kościańska reveals that sexologists—experts such as physicians, therapists, and educators—not only treated patients but also held sex education classes at school, published regular columns in the press, and authored highly popular sex manuals that sold millions of copies. Yet strict gender roles within the home meant that true equality was never fully within reach. Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and archival work, Kościańska shares how professions like sexologists defined the notions of sexual pleasure and sexual violence in the face of these sweeping cultural changes.

Add to Calendar 04/14/21 12:00 PM 04/14/21 1:00 PM America/New_York Gender, Pleasure, and Violence: The Construction of Expert Knowledge of Sexuality in Poland

Behind the Iron Curtain, the politics of sexuality and gender were, in some ways, more progressive than the West. Even as Polish citizens clearly suffered under the oppressive totalitarianism of socialism, abortion was legal, clear laws protected victims of rape, and it was relatively easy to legally change one's gender. In Gender, Pleasure, and Violence, Agnieszka Kościańska reveals that sexologists—experts such as physicians, therapists, and educators—not only treated patients but also held sex education classes at school, published regular columns in the press, and authored highly popular sex manuals that sold millions of copies. Yet strict gender roles within the home meant that true equality was never fully within reach. Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and archival work, Kościańska shares how professions like sexologists defined the notions of sexual pleasure and sexual violence in the face of these sweeping cultural changes.

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