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on 10 May 2012
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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on 14 February 2013
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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on 8 November 2012
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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on 26 August 2013
This book is a vigorous and heartfelt liberal defence of pornography and sex work against those who want to ban or severely limit them. 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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on 30 September 2014
Valid points are made and it is easy to read but I found that it laboured the point in places so you felt yourself thinking "I get what your saying I do not need yet another example" so I got a bit bored by the end.
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on 3 June 2015
An excellent book by Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour) from one who's seen the situation close up. She debunks many myths and identifies the vested interests that muddy the waters of objectivity in this area. Well worth a read.
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on 3 May 2012
I have finished reading of the latest offering by Dr Brooke Magnanti.

I was excited when the book dropped through my letter box as I had been looking forward to this book for a long time I was also worried I knew the book would be different from her previous offerings would I find it hard going.

I can report that this book is as enjoyable as her previous offerings, in fact more so for me.
I have actually learnt a few things reading this book.

The book has opened my eyes as to how easily we can be manipulated as a society by people with their own biased agendas.

Unlike most females in the media Dr Brooke Magnanti uses facts as her weapons of choice unless you have got a specific study to back up your point of view don't bother making it this is not research by sound bite.

This is not being outraged at Riyanna grabbing her crotch.

Dr Brooke Magnanti has done the research so we don't have to. This book has been exhaustively researched I wished her opponents had done the same thing when making their points of view that we take as fact but these facts are based on statically shaky ground, ignoring the basic rules of data collection and sampling as highlighted by Dr Brooke Magnanti.

I found the journey through history that Brooke Magnanti takes us on very interesting and it occurs to me the same patterns of miss information and the ensuing moral panic keep repeating themselves over the decades.

This moral panic seems to be amplified when new inventions in media technology become available and a battle then ensues about who or what class are entitled to become the moral policemen of the UK while having unfettered access to the material themselves.

One other point I would like to make is this; I have seen it written by journalists who say they feel Brooke Magnanti can be cold and detached.

I would suggest that even though the book does deal with a lot of cold hard facts and studies if you take the time to read between the lines her narrative is warm and very human. I feel especially when dealing with prostitution she reminds us that we are dealing with people and not a set of circumstances that the mass media can dehumanise and thus push their prohibition agenda using the guise of protecting these ladies but in actuality this legislation puts sex workers at greater risk.

The fact that we let the media dehumanise a certain section of society because of the job they choose to do is wrong. Not only that Brooke Magnanti produces verified facts and figures from established bodies with no moral agendas that destroy the myths relating that we have been brain washed by.

There is a lot of money to be made by peddling these myths it is rather worrying that the governments take these facts as being solid without applying the rules of scientific research.

Another point the book highlights is what I believe to be the modern hypocrisy of feminism how can they rally against somebody for their job choice because it does not fit in with their pre conceived ideas of what is acceptable surely the founding principle of feminism his giving a woman a chance to choose the way she lives her life not deriding her choice.

Let's enjoy our sexuality, let's not let others set the agenda sexuality is fluid there is proper help out if you need it.

To me this is a message of a very honest passionate person. This would be a good read for a parent or parents as a counter measure to all the hysteria surrounding the sexualisation of children.

I am depressed now this book has finished because I cannot wait for the authors next book and the ground it may cover I have hope for the future that Dr Brooke Magnanti may use her considerable talent to write about disability and sexuality the subject could only benefit for her intelligent and unique voice.
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on 18 June 2012
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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on 20 May 2013
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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on 5 September 2012
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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