With the colorful and bold word “Perv” printed on the book cover above the photograph of a sheep, readers of Jesse Bering’s newest book might choose to peruse it on a tablet, behind a faux cover or in private.
But “Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us” is about reclaiming the word and getting past condemning what we don’t understand or find disgusting. By chapter two, “Damn Dirty Apes,” a reader might feel free to be seen reading the book on the bus ride from work or at a Colectivo Coffee shop.
Bering – also the author of “Why is the Penis Shaped Like That?” – is the former director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture at Queen’s University in Belfast. He’s a frequent contributor to Slate and Scientific American.
As Bering argues in “Perv,” which comes out on Oct. 8 from Scientific American/Farrar Straus Giroux, we have a moral obligation, in the absence of harm, to recognize that the subjectivity “of sex makes it a matter of private governance.”
Exploring paraphilias ranging from actirasty (the sun’s rays) to zoophilia (nonhuman animals), Bering contends there’s a spectrum of perversion and we all sit, stand or lie somewhere on the scale.
He writes with authority about science, politics, psychology and history, but the author also has a lot of fun in this illuminating, engrossing, kinky hardcover.
Consider just the dedication: “For you, you pervert, you.”
Match the paraphilia to its description – and no Googling.
B. Caverns, valleys
C. Sex in front of mirrors
Answers: 1, E. 2, B. 3, C. 4, F. 5, A., 6, D.