“The Government Vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam & Eve” Book Review

July 25th, 11   •   Posted by Mistress Kay   •   No Comment
The Government Vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam & Eve

Front cover

“The Government Versus Erotica” is an interesting book written by Phil Harvey and published by Prometheus Books. It’s a hardcover book which is all black and white on the inside. The book contains 296 pages along with 14 different chapters. The book is a surprisingly long read, and it does have a lot more formal language that most books, so it does take a bit longer to read than your average book. However, the book contains some good knowledge that is certainly worth reading through. The book also contains a foreword by Nadine Strossen.

What is this book about? It’s about when Adam and Eve (the adult company) was prosecuted by the government for the sale of adult products. The book talks about the attack on Adam and Eve (and other similar mail-order adult stores) and also talks about reasons why Phil Harvey believes that people see pornography and sexuality as a threat in the government. Those are the main two things that this book includes.

The book does an interesting job of seperating the two different “themes” of the book. After the couple of introductory chapters, the book alternates chapters between talking about the trials of Phil and the company from talking about reasons why Phil believes that people tend to be afraid of pornography. Each chapter switches back to the other theme, so you will continue getting different fresh takes each chapter. I must say that I enjoyed reading about the trial with Adam and Eve more than the reasons behind people being afraid of pornography, but I will certainly admit that both were still interesting to read.

In describing the trial that Philip had with Adam and Eve, Philip uses a lot of real-life examples and excerpts. He talks about things that his lawyers said as well as some of the documents that they received during the discovery phase with the Department of Justice. He also talks about the different laws, the trial procedure, what his lawyers did for him, anything that had to do with his employees, and his thoughts and strategies throughout the trial. As the trial (trials, actually. There were multiple ones) lasted over a 7-year period, the book has quite a bit of information to go over throughout the entire thing, and it’s really interesting to see what Phil was thinking throughout the entire trial.

One aspect of the book stands out to me the most. He was setting up trial groups in Utah in order to hopefully surmise how the jury would vote on the idea that Adam and Eve’s pornography was obscene. Because Utah had so many Mormons, he set up an entire-Mormon jury, a half/half with Mormons and non-Mormons, and a fully non-Mormon jury group. He found that the Mormon group and the half/half group both voted that the video was obscene. It was really interesting to see Phil’s commentary on the entire process as well as what the participations in the groups had said.

I think the biggest surprise, to me, throughout this book, was all of the times I was left going “what the fuck?”. A lot of the things that Phil talks about in the book with the goverment are things that I can’t even beleive could happen. I never realized that the government could be quite so stiffling towards adult expression, and the lengths that the government went to, in this book, to shut down Adam and Eve is just insane. It’s really an interesting look at the idea of the first amendment and how, sometimes, it doesn’t mean exactly what we thought it did in the beginning.

The Government Vs. Erotica: The Siege of Adam & Eve

Inner pages

The other theme of the book is Phil exploring, through research and his personal thoughts, why he thinks that pornography and adult content bothers people like it does. This is something that he does throughout quite a few chapters in the book. Those chapters would be “Is pornography harmful”, “Obeying the Law, Ignoring the Law, Flouting the Law”, “Pornography and Class”, “What are we Afraid of? Sexuality and the Censors”, “Sex and God”, and “The Anxiety of Liberty and the Temptation to Control”.

I actually remember quite a few of his points from this book, and they were really good points. For example, in his chapter about the laws, he talks about how, in some states, oral sex and anal sex are still considered “illegal”, but it’s something that most of us ignore. In Pornography and Class, he talks about how we tend to consider low-class, low-budget nudity and films as “pornography” while the higher-class items like nudity in plays and shows is usually not considered as such. All of his chapters are really an interesting look at the American society and how weird it can be about sexual matters.

I would recommend taking this book in short spurts. I certainly could read the book all at once, and it was fun to read (and I kept wondering what would happen next), but at the same time, the formal language does make it difficult to keep up with after awhile. I tended to read this book in about thirty-page spurts as that is what seemed to make it easiest to keep up with the reading. As long as you are okay with reading a longer book, this one is certainly worth reading.

If you want to read a book that will show you surprising things about how pornography used to be treated and how our First Amendment came into the equation, I highly, highly recommend this book. It’s so interesting to see how, just twenty years ago, our system was so different. I’m sure some of the same rules and things are in effect, but it really is an interesting look at the fight that Adam and Eve had to have to continue to sell their products. Thanks to Adam and Eve for providing this book for my The Government Vs. Erotica: Siege of Adam & Eve review.




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