So I began to strategize. I planned to gain the knowledge I needed and I began to think about how to share that knowledge with others. And in my last year of graduate school, I finally had that chance. I was offered the opportunity to develop and teach my very own specialty course and I knew what it would be: Sexual Deviance and Society. I shaped this course to fill the gaps in my own undergraduate education as well as to encourage students to think critically about gender, sex, sexuality, and sex crimes—all framed in a discourse about the norms that shape them. I taught this course every semester from fall 2008 to fall 2015 without an appropriate textbook and finally, post-tenure, I was able to work with Routledge and a handful of close colleagues to create this textbook.
Along this journey and in this textbook, I have chosen to review a spectrum of “deviant” identities and activities—many of which are heavily politicized. Some may question, for example, my inclusion of gay and bisexual people in a discussion of “sexual deviance.” Some may think I am downright politically incorrect for doing so. But before you misjudge my motives, know this: just as others have done before me, “I choose to use [the word deviant] in the same way some gay people now use
the word ‘queer’ as a badge of pride and as a sign of defiance against the forces of sexual conformity” (Gates 2000:8). Thus, to me, deviance can be a signifier of difference and defiance. Deviance need not (but frequently does) come with a negative, bad, or categorically “evil” connotation. It can be associated with empowerment and it can be conflated with imprisonment. Perhaps most in line with the goals of this textbook, studying deviance can create a space for self-reflection and it can help establish a new way of thinking about stigmatized people and behaviors. Thus, in considering the social construction of deviance as a whole and sexual deviance in particular, both the content and language utilized in this textbook are designed to be reflective and culturally interactive.
Overall, I see this textbook both as an invitation to learn, to think, and to evolve; to arm yourself with knowledge and/or to arm your students with awareness. As you take this trip through sexual deviance, it is my sincere hope that you will be challenged, reassured, titillated, inspired, and alarmed and that this textbook builds a bridge between wherever you were to wherever you want to go.