If the philosopher’s premise is that everything has meaning, then there is no such thing as meaningless sex. This is true, observes the philosopher Damon Young, even if many of his fellows treat sex “as something a bit stupid”. In On Getting Off, Young sets the record straight with wit and verve as well as cultural breadth and intellectual rigour. The book, subtitled Sex and Philosophy, is a spicy examination of the frequently ambivalent, ambiguous and even incongruous “tangle” of eros, libido and romance that we call sex. The “webs of significance” around sex, he notes, are “sticky”.
Young introduces the ideas of the great male philosophers, theologians and “pearl-clutching scholars” who have shaped humanity’s traditional views of sex and sexuality – and the great feminist and queer thinkers who have dissected and critiqued them. He weaves in references to mythology, science and literature, along with surprising facts, including how stallions wank. He likes using words such as “wank” and “fuck”; the down-to-earth Australianness of this erudite little tome is one of its many delights.
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