Abuses of the Erotic


Abuses of the Erotic

Militarizing Sexuality in the Post-Cold War United States

Josh Cerretti

Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Series

228 pages


July 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Events ranging from sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib to the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hint that important issues surrounding gender and sexuality remain at the core of political and cultural problems. Nonetheless, intersectional analyses of militarism that account for questions of race, class, and gender remain exceedingly rare. Abuses of the Erotic fills this gap by offering a comprehensive picture of how military values have permeated the civilian cultural sphere and by investigating connections between sexuality and militarism in the United States since the late 1980s. 

Josh Cerretti takes up the urgent task of applying an interdisciplinary, transnational framework to the role of sexuality in promoting, expanding, and sustaining the war on terror to understand the links between what Cerretti calls “domestic militarism” and later projects of state-backed violence and intervention. This work brings together scholarship on domestic and international militarization in relation to both homosexuality and heterosexuality to demonstrate how sexual and gender politics have been deployed to bolster U.S. military policies and, by tracking over a decade of militarized sexuality, how these instances have foundationally changed how we think of sexual and gender politics today. 


Author Bio

Josh Cerretti is an assistant professor of history and of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Western Washington University.


"Informed by transnational, queer, and indigenous feminisms, this book uses news media, government documents, and popular culture to examine military uses and abuses of the erotic. Cerretti sets in motion the examination of unique connections in an underdeveloped historiography on contemporary America, and he provides an interesting point of thematic analysis."—E. K. Jackson, Choice

“Backed by rigorous historical documentation, Abuses of the Erotic demonstrates that sexualized violence is neither incidental nor external to militarization but endemic to it. This book is an eye-opener for anyone interested in the intersectional workings of state violence.”—Carine Mardorossian, author of Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered

Abuses of the Erotic allows us to trace over a decade of militarized sexuality and to appreciate how these instances have foundationally changed how we think of sexual and gender politics in the United States today. Two strengths of the book are the fact that Cerretti discusses militarism in relation to both homosexuality and heterosexuality and that he takes an expansive, transnational view of militarism. The accessibility of the language and the fact that it focuses on events in recent history that were heavily covered in the popular press mean that this work will have broad appeal.”—Ariana E. Vigil, author of War Echoes: Gender and Militarization in U.S. Latina/o Cultural Production

Table of Contents

Introduction: Abuses of the Erotic
1. No Politician Can Afford to Let Women Come Home in Body Bags: The Militarization of Sexual Violence
2. Confronting an Enemy Abroad, Transforming a Nation at Home: Heterosexuality and Domestic Militarism
3. The Propensity or Intent to Engage in Homosexual Acts: Militant Queerness and Militarized Homosexuality
4. A Close and Mutually Beneficial Relationship: The United States, Marshall Islands, and Militarization of Reproduction
Conclusion: The Long War

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