Praise for The Man Who Hated Women

The Man Who Hated Women is a gripping, eye-opening history of feminist ‘sex radicals’ who envisioned better sex and access to birth control as tools for women’s empowerment and equality. Their antagonist, Anthony Comstock, may remind readers of a modern-day monomaniacal misogynist. With the war over reproductive rights raging nearly a hundred and fifty years after the Comstock Law, Amy Sohn’s vivid storytelling is all too relevant today.” 

—Abbott Kahler, author (as Karen Abbott) of The Ghosts of Eden Park

“In this vibrant, thrilling history, Amy Sohn has brought to life a group of radical women who daringly fought for birth control, sex education, and female suffrage—and while they were at it, forever changed Americans’ understanding of women’s bodies and their pleasure. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Sohn’s accounts are by turns poignant, enraging, hilarious, and eye-opening. These courageous women were an inspiration for their age—and are for ours as well.” 

—Matthew Goodman,  author of Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World

“Enthralling. At the turn of the twentieth century, a group of law-defying, free-loving, pleasure-seeking radicals put it all on the line for sexual freedoms we now take for granted. Amy Sohn vividly captures their lives, and that of the violently priggish governmental agent who tried to shut it all down.”

—Daniel Immerwahr, author of How to Hide an Empire

“With her brilliant new book Amy Sohn recreates the sexual wars that raged through public life over a century ago, when a coterie of radical women confronted the enormous power of blue-nosed Anthony Comstock, the nation’s relentless defender of Victorian propriety. Read it for the compelling story it tells—and for the light it sheds on America’s enduring struggle between repression and liberation.” 

—Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age

“Amy Sohn has written a gripping story of the decades-long Gilded Age battle between vice hunter Anthony Comstock and the largely forgotten ‘sex radicals’ he spent a career suppressing. This rollicking group biography exposes the massive criminalization of sexual knowledge, sexual health, and women’s agency—still a favored tactic in present-day anti-abortion politics. We owe a great debt to the battles of these ‘no-wave’ feminist reformers against a Comstockian system that hated women even as it claimed to protect them and to Amy Sohn, too, for brilliantly giving our complicated and courageous sex-positive foremothers their due.” 

—Emily Bingham, author of Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham

“Amy Sohn’s The Man Who Hated Women is a powerful reminder of how one man can fuel a crusade that rolls back reproductive rights for a generation of women. Sohn introduces us to a wonderful cast of ‘sex radicals’—women who used their voices at a time when sexual emancipation for women was unimaginable—who fought back and ushered in the sexual revolution that flowered in the twentieth century. A poignant reminder that today’s battles over reproductive justice aren’t new and of the power of women to create a better future for themselves and their sisters.” 

—Patricia Miller, author of Bringing Down the Colonel

“Amy Sohn has written an engaging story about the Gilded Age cultural wars, pitting the anti-vice zealot and U.S. postal inspector Anthony Comstock against a remarkable cast of audacious sex radicals. A well-researched, highly informative, and wonderful read.”

 —Mari Jo Buhle, author of It Started in Wisconsin: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Labor Protest

The Man Who Hated Women tells the utterly engrossing story of Anthony Comstock—the man who made it illegal to send pornography, contraceptives, or even sex education materials through the mail—and the women reformers who fought back, often at great personal cost. Drawing on a rich bounty of archival and historical sources, Amy Sohn makes a passionate case for the radical possibilities of female pleasure.”

—Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life