The Sex Myth: Why Everything We're Told is Wrong, By Dr Brooke Magnanti
Who decides what's weird... and why
Sunday 22 April 2012
Since revealing herself as the author of the Belle du Jour blog and memoirs, Dr Brooke Magnanti has become an acerbic critic of the media's distorted representation of sex and the detrimental effect it has on prevailing social attitudes and beliefs.
The Sex Myth is a compendium of the most popular and salacious sexual dogmas pedalled by the press, only instead of bolstering these widely accepted ideas, Magnanti dissects each one to expose the unreliable or outright fictional evidence on which they are based.
Magnanti discusses issues including the stereotyping of male and female sexuality; sex addiction; the sexualisation of children and teenagers; rape; the porn industry; trafficking; prostitution; and the motives of those opposed to sex work. While these subjects have all generated a surplus of column inches and books, it would be foolish to dismiss The Sex Myth due to any perceived lack of originality. What makes it special is the impeccable diligence with which Magnanti analyses empirical data and research to bolster her claims.
She highlights the determinative influence that “Agenda Setters” – those, including pharmaceutical companies, governments and religious groups, likely to profit from the promotion of a specific theory – have on the development of so-called diseases such as female sexual dysfunction (FSD). And although she agrees that some claiming to suffer from sex addiction do act in a worrying way, the condition might also be interpreted as “pathologising what is probably, to most of us, reasonable sexual behaviour”. The problem is that because “we are unwilling to let go of a tendency to define what is the 'right' amount of sex”, it is easier to label someone who deviates from this socially imposed norm as transgressive or unwell instead of questioning the status quo.
At no point does reading Magnanti become laborious, owing to her clear, accessible language, insightful humour and wit. There are also quirky historical facts, to prove that confusion is not a modern-day phenomenon. For example, the Kellogg empire was founded by a man who wished to promote sexual abstinence using cereals; and wind-up vibrators were issued to physicians in the 1870s.
The Sex Myth is an ambitious, meticulously researched and passionate antidote to the damage caused by years of misinformation and the destructive intolerance of those who refuse to consider divergent viewpoints. It is an enlightening must-read for anyone exposed to the press.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Downton Abbey: Liam Neeson wants role as stableman in period drama
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Star Wars 7 leaked photo of Adam Driver changes everything
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis: Spoilers and existential questions revealed
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'