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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sex Myth
This is a very interesting and well written book with lots of basic facts and plenty of humour. The author became known for her anonymous blog and subsequent book - " The secret diary of a call-girl. " It's no surprise to me that this is the work of a scientific mind and not a journalistic one. Only original sources are used and not the usual 'hearsay' stuff which...
Published 18 months ago by Gray Mage

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A passionate defence of porn and sex work, but no real new insight
This book is a vigorous and heartfelt liberal defence of pornography and sex work against those who want to ban or severely limit them. Despite the fact that I line up with most of the positions expressed here, I felt rather frustrated reading the book and at first I couldn't put my finger on why (beyond the fact that it is written in a very slangy tabloid press style,...
Published 12 months ago by Stefan43


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sex Myth, 14 Feb 2013
By 
Gray Mage (West Sussex U K) - See all my reviews
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This is a very interesting and well written book with lots of basic facts and plenty of humour. The author became known for her anonymous blog and subsequent book - " The secret diary of a call-girl. " It's no surprise to me that this is the work of a scientific mind and not a journalistic one. Only original sources are used and not the usual 'hearsay' stuff which you find in the Press and in Parliament. This is a must-read for anyone with a serious and unbiased view of the subject. It might even remove some bias from uninformed people if they take the trouble to read its excellent contents.
Graham Lewis.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, proper science, 10 May 2012
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This is a refreshing and incisive scientific view of a subject of primary interest to humankind,(i.e., sex, in case you hadn't worked it out), lightly written with a dry sense of humour. Sexual issues properly concern politics and society, and Dr M. completely demolishes various myths that permeate popular debate.
You can tell a book by the quality of its references, and as you would expect from a doctor in epidemiology, the argument is grounded in robust evidence.
She convincingly destroys, for example, the myths that rapes rise in districts with strip clubs, and that there is a huge "trafficking sex trade." The myths are not only wrong but the mis-information positively damages effective efforts to reduce rape and trafficking.
So it is good reading and if you are interested in social issues, essential, to consider evidence before arguing for policy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent de-bunking of the self-appointed guardians of morality, 12 Feb 2014
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Hardly Belle de Jour, this is a easily readable but thorough debunking of some of the myths put about by the various self-appointed guardians of morality.

If only more mainstream journalists had the integrity to check their sources!

I hope Dr Magnanti produces some more books of this kind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and rigorous debunking work, 20 May 2013
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This is a book that made me shout "Yes! At last somebody with sense and method!" at nearly every page.
Dr Magnanti explores the most unfairly propagated myths about sex and do so by carefully and scientifically debunking all the so-called studies that are relentlessly used or misused to push either sensationalist and/or incompetent news on one hand, or the dubious agenda of sexophobic and/or technophobic crusaders.
The author's scientific methods are impeccable and her counter arguments are very well explained even to the non-expert.
Contrarily to what another review claim, I can attest that references are made for every citation she presents or paper she refers. Also, her style is sometime colloquial but it is in no way at the detriment of the book contents nor of the rigour of the scientific approach used.
I initially feared that being a former sex-worker could be a hindrance for her objectivity but it was not the case: She uses no preconceptions to influence her reasoning while being open-minded and candid, two very useful qualities when dealing with such a loaded domain as sex studies.
This book was a breath of fresh air that confirmed my suspicions after reading wobbly 'studies' after another, and also taught me a great deal about statistical methodologies that can be used for other domains that also fall prey of sensationalist journalism or scaremongering politics. Excellent book !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely important book, 8 Nov 2012
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From time to time moral crusaders of all colours, from the loony Left to the religious Right, and not forgetting modern radical feminists, stir up moral panics around the issue of human sexual behaviour. Claims that pornography objectifies women, that our children are being sexualised or that thousands of women in prostitution are forced to work against their will are carefully analysed by Dr Magnanti and found to be untrue. Don't be put off by Dr Magnanti's past (she worked as a call girl under the pseudonym "Belle de Jour"). She is a well-educated, qualified scientist and an accomplished author. I like the calm, scientifically objective approach she has taken in dismantling nine modern myths about sex and sexuality. Even readers who are not particularly bothered either way about subjects such as pornography, prostitution, sex addiction and the like, may find the book interesting because of Dr Magnanti's descriptions of the shocking extent to which moral crusaders will go to twist the evidence, make up data, ignore the truth and lie to the public in order to gain political influence.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 5 Sep 2012
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As a qualified sex therapist and a scientist it is satisfying to see such a book written. However, I fear that it will do little to change biased opinions. Those people that believe these sex myths are so unlikley to buy this book. It is safer to hang on to their misconceptions, their version of the 'truth'. Sadly,the general population seems to find it difficult to embrace a scientific methodology. As Paul Simon said 'we hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest'.
Clearly Dr Magnanti has a point to prove. High intelligence and perhaps a sex drive at the higher end of the scale is a potent combination, and perhaps threatening to some. And wasn't it Anais Nin who observed that 'we dont see things as they are, we see things as we are'.

The difficulty with this area is that there is so much variation amongst individuals. Which makes if difficult when it comes down to something being true or not true. An individual is different from a population. The popular press has difficulty in coping with all the different shades of sexual feeling, sexual expression, sexual attitudes- even in these days of fity shades.... Black or white is easier to deal with. And what goes on in the emotional part of the brain- where faith and belief reside- might be a universe away from what goes on in the cerebral cortex.

Pleased I bought the book though. I remain a fan of Dr Magnanti!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A passionate defence of porn and sex work, but no real new insight, 26 Aug 2013
By 
Stefan43 (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This book is a vigorous and heartfelt liberal defence of pornography and sex work against those who want to ban or severely limit them. Despite the fact that I line up with most of the positions expressed here, I felt rather frustrated reading the book and at first I couldn't put my finger on why (beyond the fact that it is written in a very slangy tabloid press style, which I don't appreciate - the book seems to have been written very quickly).

On reflection, I think my problem is that most of the book is attacking very easy targets (shoddy and unprofessional research, and deliberate misuse of such research by politicians with their own agenda). Magnanti takes the standard liberal line that anybody wanting to ban or restrict something has a burden of proof to show beyond doubt that it is harmful and that there is no other way to remove the harm other than banning it. Most of the claims that porn and sex work stimulate crime and other negative effects depend on anecdotal evidence or studies with tiny samples, sometimes with misrepresented results. So, she doesn't feel obliged to show that pornography sex work etc have any benefits, she feels she only needs to show that their opponents have failed to prove any negative effects. The closest she comes to showing benefits is the correlation between the increased prevalence of porn and a fall in sex crime rates (though she correctly warns us to avoid the correlation=causation fallacy, it does seem to show that porn does not stimulate crime).

The book left me frustrated because it didn't even set out to prove anything one way or the other ; it just set out to show that the existing evidence does not justify any ban on sex work or porn. The big debate at the moment is the fact that internet porn seems to be becoming de facto sex education for teenagers, and how this influences them, before they have even had sex themselves. The kinds of sex acts depicted in porn tend to be much more often rough and dominating sex (often including anal sex and oral ejaculation) than romantic gentle sex. How does this affect teenagers coming to sex for the first time ? Magnanti's answer seems to be "no definitive proof of harm = no problem". Sure, she agrees that more research is necessary, but the book doesn't really shed much light on an important debate. I expected a rather deeper contribution than just slagging off the other side's poor research, and I was disappointed there.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidence based sex, 18 Jun 2012
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Magnati takes a series of things that most people think are true about sex (that pornography leads to rape, that sex workers are all miserable and exploited) and ably demolishes each one through the application of Science.

She reveals instead the vested interests behind these claims, the flaky statistics and the reality that those who purport to be protecting sex workers in fact want to legislate them out of existence.

A fascinating and worthy book, full of interesting nuggests which you may or may not want to unveil at the dinner table...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and challenge your opinions, 10 July 2012
By 
Brian Whitehead (PUDSEY, W YORKS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Really good and interesting book. It's well-written and thought provoking. I started out agreeing with many, but not all, of Dr Magnanti's views. After reading the book, I still don't necessarily agree with her on everything, but feel that my opinions have, at the very least, been challenged. Which is a good thing.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but reads as if the author is trying to defend her own sex work, 20 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Sex Myth: Why Everything We're Told is Wrong[mass market] (Paperback)
The book is interesting, it takes a view that is becoming more popular, and one cannot help but wonder if that's because this kind of "sex-positive" feminism is actually feeding into what men and big businesses want - to be able to buy people's bodies and sell their sexualities; and this is something that Dr Magnanti addresses, in a slightly round-about way. I think it would have been interesting if she had dedicated a chapter to why she feels her beliefs are what they are, especially as someone with first hand experience, and how being at the high end of sex-work is very different from being at the lower end.

The chapter in which she looks at Strip Clubs and rape rates is really interesting; but it wasn't long after this that the book felt like it was going down hill a little. It just felt that Dr Brooke was trying, in a strange way, to defend her work and the people who do sex-work (which wasn't something I wanted to read, if you choose to do that work then fine, it's your choice), and maybe that's a good thing. But I think the negative impact on people's health (both mental and physical) and the knock-on social effects sex workers feel needed to be discussed.

The idea that the sex industry is liberating to women comes up in the book, and Dr Magnanti states that she believes women control the industry. Her reasoning is summed up in a neat little sentence that basically says that women are paid more in porn, and men are more expendable. Only, this doesn't work so well in practice. Women often have to do things that are more and more degrading because if they refuse they won't be used again. Yes, the money is good, but at what cost? The men aren't the ones being harmed, they are the ones doing the harming; especially as more "every-day porn" becomes more and more violent. I would argue that those who create the demand have far more control - these sex workers need money, so if they'll only be paid for doing Y and they only want to do X, they have to decide between no pay cheque or doing something they don't really want to. Many sex workers need the money and thus they fulfil the demands of those who pay.

The reader is left thinking that no matter what evidence is brought to light, Ms Magnanti will fiercely defend the sex industry and everything that goes with it. No matter how many women come forwards explaining what they suffered the author is going to stick her head in the sand and focus on what she experienced. And being rational, one would expect a high-class call girl to be treated a little better than your average porn star. She has her opinions that have come from her own work and the way she views that, and this is clear in her book.

Author bias aside however, it was very interesting to read the author pull apart Government bills, and surveys and studies that have been conducted for years. Ones we have probably heard of, even if we don't know their full titles. Dr Magnanti picks them apart piece by piece, shows us their faults and plainly states the obvious conclusions - children really aren't being sexualised at younger and younger ages, parents are overly worried about it, and a lot of the fear that people feel is created by the same people who claim to be able to sell us the answers

I'm not saying I agree with everything the author has written, but I do admire her tenacity, ability to see through the lies and how she blasts lies to smithereens with apparent ease - that and she writes a scientific book in a way that your average person can understand and find genuinely interesting.
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The Sex Myth: Why Everything We're Told is Wrong[mass market]
The Sex Myth: Why Everything We're Told is Wrong[mass market] by Dr Brooke Magnanti (Paperback - 31 Jan 2013)
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