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sex and power click to look insideSex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies by Rita Banerji.

Penguin Books, India. 2008. Imprint Penguin. ISBN 9780143064718.

As squeamish as India is today about sex, this is also the land where queens once copulated with dead horses at religious ceremonies, where the art of love-making was declared the revelation of the gods and recorded in elaborate detail in the kama sutras and prostitution was a form of sacred offering at temples adorned with erotic sculptures.

Using India as a paradigm, Rita Banerji illustrates that sexual morality is not an absolute but a facet of living that undergoes periodic upheavals. She delineates four major periods in Indian history when there were significant shifts in the collective social perception of sex and sexuality, and the associated customs and beliefs. What causes this revision in sexual ethos?

Examining a modified version of Nietzsche’s slave versus master morality theory which establishes that the moral overview of any given period is determined by the existent power structure of the period in question, Banerji concludes that the three most burning issues facing the country today—population explosion, AIDS and female genocide—are the manifestations of a collective sexual malfunctioning of society and need to be redressed in the context of an existent social and economic power hierarchy.

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