Tag: sex

Yogi’s Circuit Breaker Reviews

During the Circuit Breaker lockdown period in Singapore that lasted from April 7 to June 1, I spent the time reading several books and watching shows on my to-do list. I’ve compiled the full list of the reviews I wrote on this page.

  1. A Curious History of Sex

Check out my review of this book about a curious history of sex and some of the things we have done to ourselves and to each other “in the pursuit (and denial) of the almighty orgasm”. 

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2. Oral Histories of Older Gay Men in Hong Kong

Check out my review of this book about the vivid memories of closeted gay life drawn from extensive oral histories with elderly men, a rare piece of work combining ageing and sexuality issues. 

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3. State of Emergency

Check out my review of this historical novel that won the Singapore Literature Prize in 2018. 

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4. Circus of Books

Check out my review of this quirky Netflix documentary whose maker, Rachel Mason, chronicles how her conservative Jewish family ran LA’s biggest gay porn bookshop, Circus of Books. 

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5. Truck De India!

Check out my review of this travelogue by Rajat Ubhaykar as he hitchhikes across India on its venerable (and beautifully decorated) trucks & discovers how they keep this vast & diverse land supplied. 

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6. It Never Rains on National Day

Check out my review of this series of short stories by Jeremy Tiang which exude identity crisis and a sense of being adrift, and questions if Singapore is truly inclusive. 

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7. Mossad Exodus

Check out my review of this gripping tale of how Israeli spies set up a fake diving resort in Sudan as a cover to rescue thousands of Ethiopian Jews in the 1980s. 

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8. Fauda

Check out my review of this hit Netflix show which depicts the operations of an Israeli undercover unit which battles Palestinian militancy.

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Yogi’s Verdict: A Curious History of Sex

This book by Kate Lister is stuffed with anecdotes, scandalous excerpts from centuries-old texts, vintage erotica and a comprehensive list of slangs for describing genitalia in both rude and delicate ways.

The author states upfront that her book isn’t meant to be a comprehensive study of sexual practices and quirks, but rather “a curious history of sex and some of the things we have done to ourselves and to each other in the pursuit (and denial) of the almighty orgasm”.

Living up to its promise, the chapters successively dish out historical dirt on the words “whore” and “cunt”, genitals, the concept of virginity, anaphrodisiacs (the opposite of aphrodisiac), attitudes toward public hair, vintage sex dolls and even the Victorian moral panic over women riding bicycles and possibly orgasming from it.

A common theme running throughout the book is evidence that the desire to control female sexuality extends far back into time. Particularly distressing are the chapters on virginity tests, which have zero scientific basis and yet plague women to this day, and the clitoris, which has been mutilated through the ages out of fear that women might enjoy sexual pleasure without a man.

The author balances such painful accounts with a healthy serving of smutty humour. My personal favourite is her conclusion to the chapter on impotence, where she pays homage to Viagra: “If you ever pop a blue pill, please remember to give a full salute to all the ‘useless members’ who entered the history books because they were accused of not being able to enter anything else.”

As the creator of the popular Whores of Yore twitter account , Lister dedicates space for the history of sex work, dispelling the common myth that it’s the world’s oldest profession (originating from Rudyard Kipling). She sensitively highlights the racial fetishisation of native women by colonial officials, as well as the conditions faced by male and female sex workers throughout history.

The book draws largely from Western sources, although Lister makes efforts to include some Indian, Chinese and Islamic ones. Rather than an academic textbook on sexuality, she has produced an easy-to-read introduction to all things historically smutty, sexist and sexual.

Yogi’s Verdict: ★★★★★

Historyogi Post Issue 69

Issue 69 of the Historyogi Post, is now open to ALL readers:

  • The infamous Tanjong Rhu entrapment case and subsequent Josef Ng affair
  • Bugis Street’s Dance of the Flaming Arseholes
  • History of sex toys and contraceptives
  • Singapore’s floating brothels: $5 per night inclusive of girls and food

Read Now: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost/letters/historyogi-post-69-sex-and-the-city-of-singapore

Subscribe here: https://tinyletter.com/historyogipost