Human sexuality resists simple or facile evaluations, and no generalization can do justice to the vast inventory of sexual feelings, practices, or behaviors. Our sexuality is not only a source of joy, wonderment, emotional release, and happiness, but also of frustration, revenge, intimidation, and deadly power. Coming to grips with our sexuality is no easy task, for our attempts to understand ourselves, to distinguish between reality and illusion, are mired in mythologies of the past, misinformation, moral and religious imperatives, lack of scientific knowledge, and wishful thinking. By tracing the development of our understanding, Friction and Fantasy: Opening Pandora?s Box presents a historically informed way of trying to make sense of one of the most emblematic aspects of our humanity. Beginning with the seemingly simple query, "What is sex," the book provides the general reader a wide-ranging exploration of the complexities and mysteries of our multidimensional sexual universe. It includes sexual fantasies, why we have sex, the mythologies of our sexual anatomy, love, sexual desire and arousal, orgasm in females and males, the taboo subject of solitary sex, the controversies regarding erotic preference and gender diversity, unusual sexual practices, sexual violence (rape, pedophilia and child sexual abuse), and the dilemmas of sexual discontent. Blending scientific and historical perspectives with literary commentaries, the book offers a wealth of information not easily available to readers in a stimulating and thought-provoking manner.