Reforming Sex reconstructs the complicated history of a movement that has been romanticized as the harbinger of 1960s sexual radicalism and demonized as a precursor to Nazi racial policy, but mostly buried and obscured by Nazi bookburnings and repression. Relying on a broad range of sources--from police reports, films and personal interviews to sex manuals unearthed from library basements and secondhand bookstores--the book analyzes a remarkable mass mobilization during the turbulent and innovative Weimar years of doctors and laypeople for women's right to abortion and public access to birth control and sex education.
"Superb...Grossmann's stellar study of German reproductive politics is a model of historical scholarship, rich description, and essential analysis. It has sharp relevance for all of us who care about the contemporary struggles for human rights and women's rights worldwide."--Women's Review of Books
"The German movement for sexual and reproductive freedom early in this century was for its time the most radical in the world, both in its progressive and in its later reactionary Nazi periods. At a moment of revival of racist eugenics, when abortion and women's sexual activity remain violently contested, Atina Grossmann's careful, insightful, and vivid study is of the greatest relevance and import."--Linda Gordon, University of Wisconsin
"Atina Grossmann's book brilliantly illuminates 20th century German history. It breaks open the established approaches to the crisis of Weimar. It shows why gender, family, and sexuality belong at the center of the historian's agenda. It places the politics of the body--as the utopia of reproductive freedom and liberated sexuality, as the pursuit of social reform and rationalized living, and as a vision of comprehensive welfare, but also as the mania for
discipline and regulation, the ordering of populations, and eventually the nightmare of the Nazi drive for racialized domination--right at the center of our attention. In its telling of the story of the sex
reformers and this earlier moment of women's reproductive politics, finally, it reminds us onece again why German history still matters."--Geoff Eley, University of Michigan