Good Sex by Catherine M. Roach
Indiana University Press / October 2022
The New Gender and Sexual Revolution
A cultural revolution unfolds in America.
It emerges from the relationship scene of dating apps and hookup sex, #MeToo activism against sexual misconduct, media campaigns around body positivity, and the increased visibility of people from across the gender and sexuality spectrum. These varied developments stand at the cutting edge of a broad shift happening across America and the globe. Together, they herald a welcome revolution for the twenty-first century and a new vision of sexual and gender well-being.
While a puritanical past shapes America, the twenty-first century has ushered in huge changes, fast. All these transformations, disparate yet interrelated, result in greater cultural acceptance and legal protection for diversity in gender expression and romance. A brave new world opens before us: we live in an era of new gender and sexual revolution…
This moment builds on the earlier sex-positive revolution of the 1960s and early 70s, fueled by that era’s counterculture movement and widespread availability of reliable contraceptives. But it adds fresh emphasis. Today’s revolution insists on broader inclusion, with personal identity understood as shaped through the overlapping intersection of gender and sexuality, as well as categories of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, body size and shape, age, (dis)ability status, and more (what academics term “intersectionality”). This next-generation revolution makes a deeper commitment to sexual justice through informed, affirmative consent and a hard line against sexual misconduct. It provides for a wider freedom from the exclusive binary boy/girl structure of gender. And it works to reduce the stigma of slut-shaming and to celebrate “cliteracy” (yup, we’re going to talk about closing the orgasm gap). All this it does through online means unimaginable fifty, or even ten, years ago: digital platforms and social media where people share personal stories to create community and empower activism. The very term “new sexual revolution” is trending…Americans across the country are taking part in this new cultural dialogue, reported and debated through news outlets, magazines, websites, Twitter feeds, and at workplace watercoolers.
Big picture? The cultural mood has altered. All these changes have us at a turning point, with more support than ever before for diversity and equity. American society is working out and reaching toward a bold new vision of sexuality and gender.
About the author
Catherine M. Roach has 25 years of grant-funded research experience on gender, sexuality, and American popular culture. A two-time Fulbright awardee with a PhD from Harvard and publications in both fiction and nonfiction, she’s been an invited visiting professor in Canada, Australia, and Europe. She is Professor of New College, an innovative liberal arts program at the University of Alabama, where she’s won the school’s top research and teaching awards and where she offers a popular cross-university course titled "Sexuality & Society." Originally from Ottawa, Canada, she is based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.