Building Sex : Men, Women, Architecture, and the Construction of Sexuality

Betsky, Aaron

Published by William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1995
ISBN 10: 0688131670 / ISBN 13: 9780688131678
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Synopsis: Buildings have always been an expression of human sexuality. In this book, architecture critic and curator Aaron Betsky takes a look at the man-made world and concludes that it is just that: made by men and not women. The structure of buildings and the layout of cities in the modern world have almost always been determined by men, and the abstract and alien order of grids and columns that has resulted imprisons us in a way of living based on repression and, in some cases, oppression.
By contrast, it is women who create the interior spaces within these man-created environments. Comfortable, beautiful, seductive, and logical, these interiors act as areas of escape, self-definition, and sometimes even revelation.
Drawing on a wide range of architectural examples, from African mud huts to modern apartment complexes, Betsky explores what effects this division of architectural labor has had on our sensibilities and, indeed, on how we relate to one another as men and women. He believes that although it has always been thus, we do not have to live within this dichotomy between the exterior and the interior, the made and the lived, the masculine and the feminine, forever. It is possible, says Betsky, to create "spaces of liberation, spaces in which we can re-construct our selves and our world."

From Booklist: What does architecture tell us about gender roles? When Betsky gazes at a spire, tower, or skyscraper, he sees phallic forms that echo the male body. When he looks at building interiors, he sees reflections of the female body with its internalized reproductive organs and ability to contain and nurture life. These may seem like simplistic observations, but for Betsky, they are realities rich in implication and revelation. Buildings, from the simplest tents to the most elaborate cathedrals, are, after all, the anchors of culture, and their forms are indicative of social hierarchies, belief systems, values, and aesthetics. Betsky traces the evolution of Western architecture and urban design from the camps of nomadic peoples to the pyramids, the constructions of the Romans, medieval palaces, and, finally, modern industrialized cities and their suburbs. In each context, he compares and contrasts interiors and exteriors and connects their design to the strictly defined activities of men and women. Betsky's fluid and creative interpretations prove to be quite stimulating and enjoyable, enabling us to see our world from a fresh and illuminating perspective. Donna Seaman

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Building Sex : Men, Women, Architecture, and...
Publisher: William Morrow & Company, Inc.
Publication Date: 1995
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: First Edition

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