In the 1940s and 1950s, Kinsey study data research was released and it provoked a great deal of controversy whilst it also opened up society’s collective eyes to the spectrum of human sexuality. Over the following decades, we have seen a blossoming of sexual revolutions and continuing discussions of sexuality, identity and expression. Yet with all of the openness and conversation, there has also been a great deal of stereotyping, idealising, moralising, proselytising and most of all, it seems, mythicising of the sexual lives and nature of the people in society.
Enter and this book. While it is a type of risqué that may cause you some disconcert to read a book that sports a fluorescent yellow cover that proclaims it’s lascivious title “The Sex Myth” inside a popping pink exclamation mark on the train, it is not as saucy as it sounds. Instead, it is filled with an intelligent, witty and altogether easy narrative to read from cover to cover. It is armed with real life conversations, observations and insights with a dash of facts and figures, to challenge and enlighten the reader around a range of social conventions built on the mythos of silver screens, romance novels, fairy tales, magazines, advertising and our own social preconceptions.
This book isn’t trying to be some kind of oracle or ground breaking research paper, it is simply articulating the confusing mixed messages individuals have to deal with through the eyes and voices of those who have been willing to share. We read about how society makes people feel and react to these influences - from those who are asexual to transgenderism through to those who are on a journey of sex shopping. We read about how sex is a significant force in our lives - affecting our emotions, self-worth and expression - yet, simultaneously, how there is an unbalanced externalisation of the discussion of sex that undermines and overshadows the other elements of social interaction and connectivity.
More than anything, this book is less about trying to educate society than educate the reader on how we perceive, internalise and feel about sex, sexuality, identity and preferences. Where once sexual freedom seemed to be about freedom from being told what not to do, now there is a blur between between what is considered “normal” and “deviant” sexual behaviour, whether “too much” or “not enough” sex is considered abnormal or even a problem. This narrative of interviews, eMails, observations and facts helps readers gain a sense of choice of sexual freedom that comes not from being told what (not) to do, but what they ultimately decide it is for them.
I enjoyed this book and yes, I’d recommend it for everyone who wants to read a well researched and written book about sex, society and the individual without the blemish of moral proselytising or obfuscating scientific objectiveness.
You know, I’d go further and say that this is a book that I would give to parents and tell them they should read and then hand over to their teenagers and adolescents. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that everyone should read this and then hand it over to the magazine editors, reporters, journalists, novelists, screenwriters and advertising executives within their families and group of friends as well.
More on the book and where to buy : http://rachelhills.tumblr.com/thesexmyth