This groundbreaking history of sexuality and gender politics demonstrates that a new openness about sex was a fundamental aspect of Argentina’s transition from dictatorship, directly informing many citizens’ understanding of the meaning of democracy. The scope and depth of Milanesio’s research is breathtaking, as is her careful attention to nuance and contradiction.
Under dictatorship in Argentina, sex and sexuality were regulated to the point where sex education, explicit images, and even suggestive material were prohibited. With the return to democracy in 1983, Argentines experienced new freedoms, including sexual freedoms. The explosion of the availability and ubiquity of sexual material became known as the destape, and it uncovered sexuality in provocative ways. This was a mass-media phenomenon, but it went beyond this. It was, in effect, a deeper process of change in sexual ideologies and practices. By exploring the boom of sex therapy and sexology; the fight for the implementation of sex education in schools; the expansion of family planning services and of organizations dedicated to sexual health care; and the centrality of discussions on sexuality in feminist and gay organizations, Milanesio shows that the destape was a profound transformation of the way Argentines talked, understood, and experienced sexuality, a change in manners, morals, and personal freedoms.
Based on a wealth of sources, Destape! illuminates multiple facets of social repression and contestation in historical perspective. Placing sexuality at the center of her inquiry, Milanesio also provides important clues for current debates on gender violence, sex education, contraception, and abortion.Altogether, the book offers a novel and engaging account of the meanings and linkages between sex and democracy in post-dictatorship Argentina.