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.
Martin (Primates of Park Avenue) brings an energetic and scientific curiosity to female infidelity in this chatty, thoughtful work. Combining first-person introspection, interviews with both experts and ordinary women, and research, Martin interrogates social assumptions about this taboo. She speaks with experts, including biophysicist Meredith Chivers, psychologist Marta Meana, and sociologist Alicia Walker, who have contributed to contemporary discourse challenging the preconception that women's sex drives are biologically lower than men's. Primatologists such as Sarah Blaffer Hrdy challenge the idea that female biology enforces monogamy in human as well as animal society. Martin reviews societal shaming of female sexual desire in multiple cultures and time periods; investigates how infidelity overlaps with and differs from polyamory and other types of consensual nonmonogamy; discusses how black women's sexuality is influenced by racism; and illuminates how the male partners of unfaithful women react (often, not as one might expect). She concludes that financial independence seems to most directly predict whether women have, and exercise, autonomy over their sex lives. Martin's thoroughly researched reconsideration of female sexual desire and infidelity will broaden readers' understanding of women, sex, and monogamy.