Book review: How sex became a civil liberty
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Henry, R. C. (2016), How Sex Became a Civil Liberty. By Leigh Ann Wheeler. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013. Pp. xiv, 327. $34.95.) . Historian, 78: 120–121
The US Supreme Court regularly reviews cases dealing with sexual liberty, privacy, and freedom of speech. Where our understanding of sexuality and sexual privacy as a civil liberty originated and how it evolved is the subject of Leigh Ann Wheeler's new work. In order to understand this evolutionary process, Wheeler examines the role of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the language of “sexual rights” and “sexual citizenship” as constitutionally protected speech. Within this context, she examines the “elasticity of civil liberties concepts,” questioning their inevitability and their progressive nature (5). Instead of being inevitable, Wheeler argues that sexual civil liberties represent a transformation of sexual freedom and free speech, clashing over the ACLU's desire to protect both sexual content and privacy.
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