A series about hooking up through the ages.
You might have never heard his name before, but on Saturday, June 24th, the world lost a scholar of human sexuality at least equal to Alfred Kinsey or Havelock Ellis. Vern Bullough was not only a registered nurse, a college professor, and the author or co-author of over fifty books and 100 articles he was a compassionate firebrand who saw no wall between academia and activism, and, as Jo Ann McNamara has said, “a feminist who walked the walk.”
American Loss of Innocence known as World War II, he, like many of his generation, went to college on the G.I. Bill, earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 1951 and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago a scant three years later. Beginning his career writing about the history of public health, Vern quickly branched out into the study of prostitution, homosexuality, and contraception, showing that the way we think about these things is the product of our particular time and place, and not some moral absolute handed down from on high. The sheer variety and quantity of work Vern produced in the course of his career is astounding: He wrote extensively on the history of medicine and nursing, the Middle Ages, science, philosophy, natural history, and feminism. In fact, when he went back to school in the late ’70s and early ’80s to earn his nursing degree, one of the required textbooks was a history of nursing he had written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Bonnie. (He still had to take an exam on it.)
persuading to take up gay-rights causes. In line with his secular humanist beliefs, he advocated basing public policy towards sexual health, sex education, and birth control on the way people actually behave, and not on religious dogma. If there was such a thing as the Sexual Revolution, it took place not because of the flower children, but because of people like Vern working quietly behind the scenes.
©2006 Ken Mondschein and Nerve.com.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR:|
|Ken Mondschein is a Ph.D candidate at Fordham University and the author of A History of Single Life.|