Historian Hanne Blank has a very important history of virginity coming out in early 2007–the result of four years’ work digging everywhere from medical libraries and age of consent laws to medieval theology and Seventeen magazine. Lucky for you, she’s decided to put some of her outtakes online, here.
Other new reads on the gender/sexuality shelf include S. Bear Bergman’s Butch is a Noun (click the link for an excerpt) and Sarah-Katherine Lewis’ Indecent.
Hanne’s outtakes are fascinating – although, I think it’s only fair to note that some of her Judaic comments are questionable and her take on CHrisitanity strikes me as expressing some commonly held ideas, that I don’t know are necessarily true – for example, she avers that, “Unlike in pagan or Jewish traditionâ€”Rabbinical wisdom of the era held that women were so unsuited to religious learning that teaching a woman Torah was tantamount to teaching her tiflut, stupidityâ€”Jesus himself, by including both Mary Magdalene and his own mother, had set the example that Christian women were to be allowed to learn, pray, discuss, and teach,” ignoring the context in which this comment is made. It is indisputable that some rabbis did so comment, however the context in which this comment is made is, in fact, an argument about teaching women Torah – in other words, there is dispute about whether it is a good idea or not, and in fact, the comment is a response to the idea that one ought to do so. The rabbinic world then. like now – as you know- was hardly monolithic. I”m the last person to argue the rabbis were a model of egalitarianism, but give credit where it’s due.
In my own defense, Kol Ra’ash Gadol, I was forced to cut the original book by a third, and then was forced to cut *that* manuscript by about half. The outtakes on my site are from the version that had already been cut, so there is already a bunch of context gone.
Also, I encourage you to check out the book when it is published. It may be interesting to you to look at the bibliography if you have any curiosity about my information or my sources. This is not to say that I have the last word on this stuff — or that I believe that I am presenting the last word on this stuff, an impossible task in a survey-style book written for a mass-market audience — but just to note that I’m a pretty careful researcher and a well-trained historian, and I’m not just pulling it all out of thin air.
I appreciate your criticism, however, and appreciate your attention to my work. It is a fortunate writer who has such close readers.
I most certainly will – I don’t in any way disparage either the deep research that obviously went into the book. In general, I thought the outtakes, as I said, fascinating, and look forward to reading the book. OTOH, I rather like really oversized tomes… 🙂