Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia of Sex

ISBN 13: 9780826406255

Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia of Sex

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9780826406255: Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia of Sex
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Covers abortion, AIDS, artificial insemination, birth control, sexual behavior, impotence, infertility, miscarriage, prostitution, pregnancy, and sexual health

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From Booklist:

High-school and public libraries will want to consider Dr. Ruth's latest book even if they already have other dictionaries and encyclopedias of sex. It will be popular because its editor has a large following and because it will be marketed to teens, as well as adults. Her introduction restates her desire to help eliminate "sexual illiteracy" among "the many people out there, especially young people, who need to know more." While professionals were asked to write the articles, the encyclopedia was prepared for the general reader, "especially for high school and college students."

Dr. Ruth writes the way she talks--enthusiastically, nonjudgmentally, and informatively--and her style is evident throughout the book, regardless of the actual authors of the unsigned articles. The contributors come from a variety of fields: law, psychology, sociology, and the expected medical specialties (adolescent medicine, epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, psychiatry, rehabilitative medicine, and urology).

Arranged in A-Z format, the articles cover diverse topics: Abortion, Abstinence, Brothel, Impotence, Lesbian Sexual Techniques, Sexual Response Cycle, Virginity, etc. These often include brief historical surveys, as well as overviews of current thought. Many articles address health aspects of sex, such as Arthritis and Sex, Cervical Cancer, Handicapped Persons and Sex, and Yeast Vaginitis. There are a few entries that describe individuals: Magnus Hirschfield, Helen Singer Kaplan, and, of course, Kinsey and Masters and Johnson. There are numerous cross-references throughout the book and within the detailed index. The glossary is followed by a "Glossary of Sexual Slang"; both will assist in communication, but neither is as complete as The Sexual Dictionary: Terms & Expressions for Teens & Parents (Larksdale, 1993) or The Language of Sex: An A-to-Z Guide [RBB Je 15 92].

The articles that describe sexual techniques (Coital Positions, Fellatio, Homosexuality, etc.) are straightforward and objective, and they will answer most individuals' questions. It is unfortunate that the illustrations sometimes do not measure up to the text. They are a mix of black-and-white photographs and drawings. Some are crudely drawn ("Development of the Adolescent's Sex Organs," "Breast Feeding," etc.). Other illustrations are quite helpful, such as those showing penile implants and self-injection therapy used in treating impotence and those showing the stages of labor. The topically arranged bibliography includes some dated items. For example, the category "Cancer" lists only three sources, dated 1983, 1977, and 1984. "Prostitution" has five citations, all from the 1970s.

Although there are other good books on this subject aimed at a similar audience, including Bullough's Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia [RBB My 1 94], Dr. Ruth's will be requested by many and will be useful for those comfortable with her earlier works.

From Publishers Weekly:

Since 1980, Westheimer--more familiarly known as Dr. Ruth--has worked to eliminate sexual illiteracy. Here her campaign to expand sexual knowledge beyond the birds and the bees continues. Her most recent educational tool is an A-Z compendium of sexual subjects, edited and introduced by the good doctor. The book contains more than 250 separate entries, including 100 illustrations, and is written with the high school or college student in mind, though others can also benefit. As such, the encyclopedia seeks to include not only standard information, but also the more offbeat. Entries address all aspects of sexuality--from mechanics and biology to cultural, legal and religious concerns. The range of material covered in this volume is impressive, ranging from sex in the Bible to call girls. The book's information is often deadpan-funny; the entry for zoophilia, for example, ends with a cautionary note that such "practices are not recommended and are often illegal," while under the heading of affairs one learns that "if it lasts only a few weeks or a month it might be called a 'brief affair,' but a weekend dalliance should be called a 'fling," not an affair, and a 'one-night stand' is just that." The final pages offer a glossary of sexual slang guaranteed to teach even the most worldly reader a term or two.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Ruth K. Westheimer (Editor)
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