I’ll admit it. The book Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us sat on my desk for a number of months before I picked it up. Neither the name, nor the cover picture of a coquettish looking lamb really appealed to me. But from page one of this book, I was hooked. Perv, by Jessi Berring, is one of the smartest, well researched, amusing and well written books about the complexities of sexual attraction that I have ever read. As a penance for having left it languishing for so long on my desk, I bought 4 copies to distribute to colleagues.
Jess Bering makes the case that our instinctive reactions to individual proclivities and for sexual deviations outside of the common norm is often an outdated, unscientific, preconceived notions. “Our own ‘enlightenment’ is the unprecedented space at which the science of human sexuality is now advancing and with it that gathering storm of data showing that deviance is more status quo than any of us imagined.”
Bering opens the book by taking us on a trip down memory lane to incidents in our past which would be considered perversions to others. His narrative covers a wide range of paraphelias with both humor and sensitivity and then segueways into those “perversions” which are the most difficult for us as a society to handle empathetically or rationally, with pedophilia being the cornerstone of that discussion.
Bering walks the tight-rope of acceptance versus rationalization quite deftly. He is committed to making sure that we are aware of the predispositions, imprinting and agonies that make sexual preferences hardly a “choice.” Yet he does not go so far as exonerating those who harm others.