The introduction of television to Fiji triggers an outbreak of bulimia, as young women try to emulate the stars of Baywatch. A German tourist in Bangkok solicits a prostitute whom he met on the Internet. Images of a tearful Monica Lewinsky are broadcast on CNN to the farthest reaches of the globe. We really do live in a borderless world. Transportation, mass media, emigration, multinational corporations, advances in modern communications, and new information technologies all bring populations within the scope of an interconnected consumer culture. But this rapid process of globalization changes more than just our world economy. It radically reshapes the way we conceive of ourselves and experience our sexuality.
Global Sex is the first major work to take both the issues of globalization and sexuality head on. Dennis Altman looks at how pleasures of the body are framed, shaped, commercialized, and even commodified in our new global economy, exploring the impact of globalization on gender relations, political power, public health, migration, and the ways in which we imagine our own sense of self and place. Ranging from U.N. debates over abortion, to the advent of cybersex, to the rapid spread of AIDS in Africa, to the sex scandals that rocked both Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and President Bill Clinton, Global Sex sheds new light on how the personal and the political are now, more than ever, indistinguishable.
Tracing the combined impact of telecommunications, faster air-travel and the Internet on sexual expression the world over, Altman (Homosexual: Oppression and Liberation) historicizes sexual activity while exploring specific changes resulting from advances in technology. Covering such issues as the impact of prostitution and pornography on global economics, and how AIDS affects sexual practices, legislation and the commercialization of sex, he presents a gripping portrait of a world barely able to keep pace psychologically, sociologically and theologically with enormous, rapid-fire changes. An AIDS/HIV activist as well as a professor in the School of Politics, Sociology and Anthropology at La Trobe University, Australia, Altman is best when he's most specific for example, when he compares Bangkok's current reputation with Vienna's as "the global brothel" circa 1900; when he traces the dissemination of U.S. gay culture around the world; or when he discusses how Reagan and Thatcher used traditional "moral panics" to promote their agendas. Drawing upon a wide range of sources and cultural artifacts including Playboy, U.N. Development Programme reports, Sharon Stone's famous leg crossing in Basic Instinct, and La Cage aux Folles, as well as the theories of Freud, Herbert Marcuse, William Reich and Franz Fanon Altman ranges outside the usual boundaries of academic research. Offering neither a dire warning nor a reason to rejoice (he sees "the interconnectedness of the world [as] both a threat and an opportunity) his savvy, energetic book truly maintains a global perspective. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.