23 October 2015

Book Review: American Sex Machines

Hoag Levins is managing editor for digital publications at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), a center within The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote this book before taking that position.

I have known a few scholars who research patent filings to come up with some very interesting theories about modern life. But having never read any final products, it was always small talk among scholars. This book, while not written by an academic, is a great history of sex in America through the review of patent applications.

The most interesting chapter had to do with abortion devices and how recent America's war on abortion and its origins in a discourse other than morality. Like everywhere in the world where abortion is not safe and legal, American women were dying left and right due to the total lack of regulation in abortion practice. Women were sprayed with toxic poisons or mutilated causing death by bleeding. Then it appeared, that pessaries became the device within which mainstream society allowed the need for abortions to be satisfied. However, the president of a medical society decried the abundance of pessaries:

Pessaries, I supposed, are sometimes useful, but there are more than there is any necessity for. I do think that this filling the vagina with such traps, making a Chinese toy-shop of it, is outrageous... if there were few pessaries there would be fewer abortions.

I was not aware that there was a market for "anti-rape" devices. These devices range in style but most of them have the same purpose which is to eject a sharp object into the penis of a rapist -- some of these sharp objects are small and some of them are large.

While I was uncomfortable with the recounting of silicone and breast augmentation devices, it was the penile implant devices that I found to be most extreme. I was not keenly aware of the extend of the erectile dysfunction industry which apparently includes surgically inserting things into the penis.

The version I read was a 280 page paper published by Adams Media Corp on March 1996. ISBN: 1558505342. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

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