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UAlbany Sociologist Explores ‘The War on Sex’ in Latest Book

 Trevor Hoppe, assistant professor of sociology. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 5, 2017) – When the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that states must recognize same-sex marriage, it reaffirmed a belief held by many Americans that we live in a sexually-free society.

UAlbany sociologist Trevor Hoppe is telling a different story.

Hoppe, an assistant professor of sociology, has co-edited a collection of essays in a new book titled “The War on Sex,” which reveals that sex crimes are punished more harshly than other crimes.

The book has contributions from 21 scholars, activists, journalists and organizers, including co-editor David Halperin of the University of Michigan, who has published over a dozen best-selling books.

“At precisely the same time that gay and lesbian organizations were winning court battles in the 1990s and 2000s, legislators around the country were quietly enacting an enormous number of new criminal sanctions targeting sex,” Hoppe said. “This book is the product of five years of thinking, editing, and organizing by many thinkers whose work focuses on the criminalization of sexuality.”

According to Hoppe, sex offender registries have ballooned in recent years to more than 800,000 Americans. These registries include defendants convicted of heinous offenses such as rape, but also, in some states, 19-year-olds who were convicted of having sex with their 17-year-old girlfriend, as well as people caught urinating in public.

Defendants convicted of sexual offenses are forced to register – many times for decades if not for the rest of their life.

“The War on Sex” documents not only the history and operation of sex offender registries, but also the criminalization of people living with HIV, as well as highly punitive measures against sex work that do more to harm women than to combat human trafficking.

“The authors of this book obviously all agree that people convicted of crimes like rape should be punished, but we question why some sexual offenses are punished so severely,” Hoppe said. “For example, there is no registry for defendants convicted of murder who leave prison – they are not required to have their driver’s license stamped in bold with the word “MURDERER” as sex offenders must do in several states. Sex remains a scarlet letter stain that can justify imprisonment and ruin careers.”

“The War on Sex” is available on Amazon and at bookstores across the country.

At UAlbany, Hoppe’s research focuses on both HIV-specific criminal laws and sex offender registries. He released a study last year which found that one percent of all black men in the U.S. are registered sex offenders. It also found that black men enter the sex offender registry at nearly twice the rate of white men.

Hoppe is publishing a second book in November titled “Punishing Disease.” It examines how the global AIDS epidemic has resulted in poorly-worded laws which unfairly target people living with HIV.

“The fact that I have managed to publish two books this year speaks to the tremendous support UAlbany has provided me,” Hoppe said. “I have also been thrilled to learn so much from my students, who are extremely curious and frustrated by the injustices that my work highlights.”

You can learn more about Hoppe by viewing his University expert page. Also follow him on Twitter: @TrevorHoppe.

“The War on Sex” is available on Amazon and at bookstores across the country. The book’s table of contents and introduction is available here.

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