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Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue, a bold, timely reconsideration of female infidelity that will upend everything you thought you knew about women and sex. What do straight, married female revelers at an all-women's sex club in LA have in common with nomadic pastoralists in Namibia who bear children by men not their husbands? Like wome From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue, a bold, timely reconsideration of female infidelity that will upend everything you thought you knew about women and sex. What do straight, married female revelers at an all-women's sex club in LA have in common with nomadic pastoralists in Namibia who bear children by men not their husbands? Like women worldwide, they crave sexual variety, novelty, and excitement. In ancient Greek tragedies, Netflix series, tabloids and pop songs, we've long portrayed such cheating women as dangerous and damaged. We love to hate women who are untrue. But who are they really? And why, in this age of female empowerment, do we continue to judge them so harshly? In Untrue, feminist author and cultural critic Wednesday Martin takes us on a bold, fascinating journey to reveal the unexpected evolutionary legacy and social realities that drive female faithlessness, while laying bare our motivations to contain women who step out. Blending accessible social science and interviews with sex researchers, anthropologists, and real women from all walks of life, Untrue challenges our deepest assumptions about ourselves, monogamy, and the women we think we know. From recent data suggesting women may struggle more than men with sexual exclusivity to the revolutionary idea that females of many species evolved to be "promiscuous" to Martin's trenchant assertion that female sexual autonomy is the ultimate metric of gender equality, Untrue will change the way you think about women and sex forever.


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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue, a bold, timely reconsideration of female infidelity that will upend everything you thought you knew about women and sex. What do straight, married female revelers at an all-women's sex club in LA have in common with nomadic pastoralists in Namibia who bear children by men not their husbands? Like wome From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Primates of Park Avenue, a bold, timely reconsideration of female infidelity that will upend everything you thought you knew about women and sex. What do straight, married female revelers at an all-women's sex club in LA have in common with nomadic pastoralists in Namibia who bear children by men not their husbands? Like women worldwide, they crave sexual variety, novelty, and excitement. In ancient Greek tragedies, Netflix series, tabloids and pop songs, we've long portrayed such cheating women as dangerous and damaged. We love to hate women who are untrue. But who are they really? And why, in this age of female empowerment, do we continue to judge them so harshly? In Untrue, feminist author and cultural critic Wednesday Martin takes us on a bold, fascinating journey to reveal the unexpected evolutionary legacy and social realities that drive female faithlessness, while laying bare our motivations to contain women who step out. Blending accessible social science and interviews with sex researchers, anthropologists, and real women from all walks of life, Untrue challenges our deepest assumptions about ourselves, monogamy, and the women we think we know. From recent data suggesting women may struggle more than men with sexual exclusivity to the revolutionary idea that females of many species evolved to be "promiscuous" to Martin's trenchant assertion that female sexual autonomy is the ultimate metric of gender equality, Untrue will change the way you think about women and sex forever.

30 review for Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    So. I'm really into the use of ethnography and participant-observation as a way to examine mainstream, western culture. That being said, I needed this to either be less anthropological or more. It might be the penalty of knowing too much, but I had a lot of questions about the ethics here & the tone at times was not great

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Grether

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Yes, come for the salaciousness but stay for the lesson. Eye opening in a number of ways, but what stands out is how still deeply maintained in our politics, and US culture, is the ongoing subjugation of women and a demonstration how much farther we have to go. Martin, as well as Christopher Ryan Ph.D and others, have highlighted that shifting to agriculture from hunter-gatherer took us from more equal roles by placing exclusive value on brute-force farming and encouraging control: separating wom Yes, come for the salaciousness but stay for the lesson. Eye opening in a number of ways, but what stands out is how still deeply maintained in our politics, and US culture, is the ongoing subjugation of women and a demonstration how much farther we have to go. Martin, as well as Christopher Ryan Ph.D and others, have highlighted that shifting to agriculture from hunter-gatherer took us from more equal roles by placing exclusive value on brute-force farming and encouraging control: separating women allowed the isolation and marginalization of their contribution and denial of full participation. Women and people in general do not have easy or a simple range of behaviors, and this book helps to rip more stereotypes apart and throw out more assumptions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn Rivard

    This book won't be for everybody. And I'll admit that my attention wandered a bit in chapters dealing with research into primates, etc. But the anecdotal sections and the historic detail of how monogamy became a thing were truly fascinating.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Scientifically literate and sexually cliterate … an exuberant unfettering of female sexuality that challenges us to ‘think outside her box.’ Viva la Vulva! Ian Kerner, Sex Therapist and Author of She Comes First If you have ever felt different, other, or just weird when it comes to love, sex, or intimacy, read Untrue. Wednesday Martin bulldozes the sexual stereotypes that have silenced women for eons. By bringing the voices of women who love in a range of ways to the surface, she shows us all that Scientifically literate and sexually cliterate … an exuberant unfettering of female sexuality that challenges us to ‘think outside her box.’ Viva la Vulva! Ian Kerner, Sex Therapist and Author of She Comes First If you have ever felt different, other, or just weird when it comes to love, sex, or intimacy, read Untrue. Wednesday Martin bulldozes the sexual stereotypes that have silenced women for eons. By bringing the voices of women who love in a range of ways to the surface, she shows us all that it's not us and our desires that are abnormal: it is a system that has constrained and shamed women. I love this book. Rachel Simmons, Co-Founder of Girls Leadership and Author of Odd Girl out Wednesday Martin understands female sexuality – from the #MeToo movement and polyamory to women’s prehistoric and cultural heritage. She goes far beyond our current psychological understanding of women’s infidelity to tell the real story of women’s ubiquitous, tenacious, and primordial sexual strategies. And her writing is not only informative, timely, and refreshing but wonderfully engaging. Brava, Wednesday. Helen Fisher, Author of The First Sex and Why We Love For centuries, men have been telling the story of female sexuality. Unsurprisingly, it was was riddled with condescension, bias, and sheer ignorance. With Untrue, Wednesday Martin sets the record straight, shining a light on some of the female researchers reshaping our understanding of what turns women on, and why. This is an important story, beautifully told. Highly recommended. Christopher Ryan, Co-Author of Sex at Dawn A simultaneously frothy and substantive tour of female sexual desire … An indispensable work of popular psychology and sociology. Kirkus Wednesday Martin deconstructs many of the false beliefs that have negatively affected the way women's sexuality is viewed … This book turns everything we think we know about women and sex completely on its head, essentially undressing the falsehoods of female sexuality to reveal what lies beneath the layers of distortion women operate under. Kerri Jarema, Bustle Chapters cover topics like infidelity, open marriage, polyamory, and even cuckolding to show that women are not the demure, sex-hating bearers of morality that history and long-standing research (by men) would lead us to believe. Kathy Sexton, Booklist Riveting. Stephen A Russell, The New Daily

  5. 4 out of 5

    Simone Collins

    What a thoroughly enjoyable read! As having basically zero sex drive myself (let's be honest with ourselves: humans are repulsive), I blithely accepted the conventional wisdom that women had lower sex drives, cheated less, and were tempted to cheat less. Few things are more refreshing than books that help to change one's paradigm. Untrue was definitely one of these books for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday's multifaceted exploration of female infidelity, explored through different social scien What a thoroughly enjoyable read! As having basically zero sex drive myself (let's be honest with ourselves: humans are repulsive), I blithely accepted the conventional wisdom that women had lower sex drives, cheated less, and were tempted to cheat less. Few things are more refreshing than books that help to change one's paradigm. Untrue was definitely one of these books for me. I thoroughly enjoyed Wednesday's multifaceted exploration of female infidelity, explored through different social scientists', psychologists', and primatologists' opinions, as well as various subcultures, groups, one-on-one interviews, and personal anecdotes. Wednesday Martin has a knack for presenting concepts in a very engaging, relatable manner (as opposed to a purely academic or purely anecdotal fashion). I LOVE her books. Can't wait to see what she writes next.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Verne

    Great book

  7. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Destera

    I can't say I am a fan of her writing style. It seems many of her sentences run on and get somewhat confusin - One thing I am not pleased with is the author's tendency to describe the people she is interviewing. Tall, blonde, willowy, beautiful, young, what color lipstick, etc. Everyone seems to fit into the mold of the “perfect woman”. Where are the short, heavier ladies? Where are the non-binary (noted but never described)? - She cites a lot of other peoples' reseach but seems to only conduct I can't say I am a fan of her writing style. It seems many of her sentences run on and get somewhat confusin - One thing I am not pleased with is the author's tendency to describe the people she is interviewing. Tall, blonde, willowy, beautiful, young, what color lipstick, etc. Everyone seems to fit into the mold of the “perfect woman”. Where are the short, heavier ladies? Where are the non-binary (noted but never described)? - She cites a lot of other peoples' reseach but seems to only conduct her own experiments in certain situations - which seem to be high-end Skirt Parties or conventions/seminars where she might be surrounded by higher societal professionals. Did she do any bonobo research? Even to spend a few days watching the primates in the zoo? Did she travel or even try to communicate with women of the Himba tribe? Also it kind of bothered me that she needed/got her husband's “permission” to “fool around” at these Skirt Parties (which she couldn't bring herself to do). I'm not saying as a researcher she should have joined in (I doubt I could have joined in), but her husband shouldn't have needed to give permission when he knew what she was writing about. Maybe I am thinking she should have done a little more than watch.. This kind of skews the results for me knowing she did not give much hands-on approaches in any sense

  8. 4 out of 5

    Galen Johnson

    Excellent re-examination of stereotypes about women's sexuality, from evolutionary ecology to personal exposition. As a biologist, I found the biologically-based discussions sound and fair. The polyamory section seemed a bit naive, from a Pacific Northwest gal who sees these things all the time, but still sensitive and insightful. As a white lady, I can hardly comment on the completeness of the intersectional view of race and sexuality/infidelity, but I definitely saw a diversity of references r Excellent re-examination of stereotypes about women's sexuality, from evolutionary ecology to personal exposition. As a biologist, I found the biologically-based discussions sound and fair. The polyamory section seemed a bit naive, from a Pacific Northwest gal who sees these things all the time, but still sensitive and insightful. As a white lady, I can hardly comment on the completeness of the intersectional view of race and sexuality/infidelity, but I definitely saw a diversity of references rarely seen in such books. Fascinating, smart, and fun.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Fascinating. Infuriating. I learned a lot that I should have learned in my many courses on the topic of human mate selection and sociobiology in college, and didn’t. I bought all the tropes Martin exposes here, and I’m pissed about it. Down with the patriarchy!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Scribe Publications

    Scientifically literate and sexually cliterate … an exuberant unfettering of female sexuality that challenges us to ‘think outside her box.’ Viva la Vulva! Ian Kerner, Sex Therapist and Author of She Comes First If you have ever felt different, other, or just weird when it comes to love, sex, or intimacy, read Untrue. Wednesday Martin bulldozes the sexual stereotypes that have silenced women for eons. By bringing the voices of women who love in a range of ways to the surface, she shows us all that Scientifically literate and sexually cliterate … an exuberant unfettering of female sexuality that challenges us to ‘think outside her box.’ Viva la Vulva! Ian Kerner, Sex Therapist and Author of She Comes First If you have ever felt different, other, or just weird when it comes to love, sex, or intimacy, read Untrue. Wednesday Martin bulldozes the sexual stereotypes that have silenced women for eons. By bringing the voices of women who love in a range of ways to the surface, she shows us all that it's not us and our desires that are abnormal: it is a system that has constrained and shamed women. I love this book. Rachel Simmons, Co-Founder of Girls Leadership and Author of Odd Girl Out Wednesday Martin understands female sexuality – from the #MeToo movement and polyamory to women’s prehistoric and cultural heritage. She goes far beyond our current psychological understanding of women’s infidelity to tell the real story of women’s ubiquitous, tenacious, and primordial sexual strategies. And her writing is not only informative, timely, and refreshing but wonderfully engaging. Brava, Wednesday. Helen Fisher, Author of The First Sex and Why We Love For centuries, men have been telling the story of female sexuality. Unsurprisingly, it was was riddled with condescension, bias, and sheer ignorance. With Untrue, Wednesday Martin sets the record straight, shining a light on some of the female researchers reshaping our understanding of what turns women on, and why. This is an important story, beautifully told. Highly recommended. Christopher Ryan, Co-Author of Sex at Dawn A simultaneously frothy and substantive tour of female sexual desire … An indispensable work of popular psychology and sociology. Kirkus Wednesday Martin deconstructs many of the false beliefs that have negatively affected the way women's sexuality is viewed … This book turns everything we think we know about women and sex completely on its head, essentially undressing the falsehoods of female sexuality to reveal what lies beneath the layers of distortion women operate under. Kerri Jarema, Bustle Chapters cover topics like infidelity, open marriage, polyamory, and even cuckolding to show that women are not the demure, sex-hating bearers of morality that history and long-standing research (by men) would lead us to believe. Kathy Sexton, Booklist Riveting. Stephen A Russell, The New Daily

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cristine Mermaid

    Enlightening book about the myths surrounding women's sexuality. It contains heaps of research breaking myths such as "women are biologically wired for monogamy", "women need to be 'in love' to enjoy sex and can't have sex without falling in love", "women have low sex drives", "straight women can't be attracted to other women" etc etc. The research and science behind the studies along with their conclusions is downright fascinating although it did go a bit too long about primate sexual behavior Enlightening book about the myths surrounding women's sexuality. It contains heaps of research breaking myths such as "women are biologically wired for monogamy", "women need to be 'in love' to enjoy sex and can't have sex without falling in love", "women have low sex drives", "straight women can't be attracted to other women" etc etc. The research and science behind the studies along with their conclusions is downright fascinating although it did go a bit too long about primate sexual behavior for me. The anecdotes and women's stories were diverse and interesting and added a personal touch to what otherwise might be a slighly dry text book tone. I have read similar books before so I knew of the views on how women weren't seen as men's property until the agricultural age when men wanted to be sure that they were leaving the land they owned to their genetic offspring but this went a great deal more in depth. It also thoroughly explained the cultural/societal expectations and teachings that insisted women were a certain way and how they were punished when they dared to break out of those narrow restraints. I read other reviews and just as the book discussed, this made a lot of people angry. Why? For those who were insisting that they are naturally geared toward monogamy, the book wasn't saying that you weren't. It was about women as a whole, of course individuals vary. It also wasn't saying that people couldn't choose to be monogamous. However, it made the point that there is a wide spectrum and that lifelong strict monogamy could be challenging for many and that there are other options. It also discussed other arrangements such as open relationships, polyamory etc and how these types of relationships are a much better fit for so many people and even though they still seem to anger a lot of traditionalists ( why? no one is trying to force it upon you, it doesn't affect you), they are becoming more and more common.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Witzling

    Pretty enjoyable read, with a lot of interesting research compiled. I sort of read this as an alternative to Sex at Dawn with a female focus, which I think it accomplished. At times it seemed like a somewhat random compilation at research and I would have liked more a focus on current non-monogamous practices rather than a skimming of the different forms (but that’s personal preference). I didn’t like that the author seemed to flip flop between language in support of nonmonogamy and language tha Pretty enjoyable read, with a lot of interesting research compiled. I sort of read this as an alternative to Sex at Dawn with a female focus, which I think it accomplished. At times it seemed like a somewhat random compilation at research and I would have liked more a focus on current non-monogamous practices rather than a skimming of the different forms (but that’s personal preference). I didn’t like that the author seemed to flip flop between language in support of nonmonogamy and language that inherently made it sound unethical. Rather than “unbiased” she seemed to be unsure and changing her mind.

  13. 4 out of 5

    AM AM

    This book is so decisively founded on errors and flat out debunked statements on science, misleading anthropology, cherry picked and misleading history, and a complete manipulation of the feminist tradition that beyond some incredibly basic points it can’t offer anything new or accurate to the public discourse. I reviewed this elsewhere in detail and I recommend you avoid this book if you don’t want to be misinformed. https://medium.com/@Careful_Writing/t...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Extremely well written if necessarily narrow, but I totally get that the premise is the comparison and to create an excellent and provable hypothesis. The under examined and timely topic needs to be flushed out and be made grist for the mill. Lets talk about this. The tip of an iceberg in my humble opinion. This topic is eons in the making and so so much data to contribute. Exceptionally focused and well-done. Brava

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tawni Winns

    This book pretty much blasted through those old tired stereotypes that ALL women are creatures that long for monogamy. This book dismantles societal ideas (created by men) with scientific facts and studies of other cultures. I learned so much about the world and my own biology reading this book and recommend it for single and married women. GIRL POWER!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    2.5 for me. This book wasn't exactly what I expected. I agree that female desire feels taboo to talk about. I did learn about some stuff people are into that I didn't know people are into (throuples? Hot wifing?). I'm not entirely sure that some of this that looks like female sexual freedom isn't just another way to attend to men's desires, a different objectification, but to each their own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marylisa Sullivan

    Loved Wednesday Martin's research into female sexuality. Debunks many "myths" of low female desire from the animal world and through various cultures. I feel she gave women the benefit of unbridled sexuality not dictated by "societal mores."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joy Bishop

    Excellent book. Well thought out and researched.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Share it with everyone.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    3.5 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    Every woman should read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Sergiusz

    This is an amazing and thought provoking book, a necessary addition and a very necessary one to those who have read Sex at Dawn.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Jamerson

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jordyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sierra W.

  27. 5 out of 5

    joe kelly

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janday

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lainey Wardlow

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Southerland

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