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From a bold new feminist voice, a book that will change the way you think about your sex life. Fifty years after the sexual revolution, we are told that we live in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom; that if anything, we are too free now. But beneath the veneer of glossy hedonism, millennial journalist Rachel Hills argues that we are controlled by a new brand of sexual From a bold new feminist voice, a book that will change the way you think about your sex life. Fifty years after the sexual revolution, we are told that we live in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom; that if anything, we are too free now. But beneath the veneer of glossy hedonism, millennial journalist Rachel Hills argues that we are controlled by a new brand of sexual convention: one which influences all of us—woman or man, straight or gay, liberal or conservative. At the root of this silent code lies The Sex Myth—the defining significance we invest in sexuality that once meant we were dirty if we did have sex, and now means we are defective if we don’t do it enough. Equal parts social commentary, pop culture, and powerful personal anecdotes from people across the English-speaking world, The Sex Myth exposes the invisible norms and unspoken assumptions that shape the way we think about sex today.


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From a bold new feminist voice, a book that will change the way you think about your sex life. Fifty years after the sexual revolution, we are told that we live in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom; that if anything, we are too free now. But beneath the veneer of glossy hedonism, millennial journalist Rachel Hills argues that we are controlled by a new brand of sexual From a bold new feminist voice, a book that will change the way you think about your sex life. Fifty years after the sexual revolution, we are told that we live in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom; that if anything, we are too free now. But beneath the veneer of glossy hedonism, millennial journalist Rachel Hills argues that we are controlled by a new brand of sexual convention: one which influences all of us—woman or man, straight or gay, liberal or conservative. At the root of this silent code lies The Sex Myth—the defining significance we invest in sexuality that once meant we were dirty if we did have sex, and now means we are defective if we don’t do it enough. Equal parts social commentary, pop culture, and powerful personal anecdotes from people across the English-speaking world, The Sex Myth exposes the invisible norms and unspoken assumptions that shape the way we think about sex today.

30 review for The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hills

    Growing up, the books that inspired me most were those that put individual experiences into social and political context - books like The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy, Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, or The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Understanding how my life fit into a bigger picture helped me to feel less alone, and helped me make sense of my experiences. The Sex Myth is my attempt to follow in the tradition of the books I loved. A product of six y Growing up, the books that inspired me most were those that put individual experiences into social and political context - books like The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf, Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy, Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton, or The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Understanding how my life fit into a bigger picture helped me to feel less alone, and helped me make sense of my experiences. The Sex Myth is my attempt to follow in the tradition of the books I loved. A product of six years' research, including interviews with women and men across three continents, it grew out of the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy I felt about my sex life in the first half of my twenties. When I realized I wasn't alone in these feelings, I set out to understand the cultural context that had created them. What did we believe about sex, and where did those ideas come from? What was the current sexual ideal, and how were real people engaging with it? As I argue in The Sex Myth, sex is a fraught and symbolically loaded subject in our society, meaning that the choices we make when it comes to sex hold a heavy weight for many people. My hope is that this book will help to ease that weight a little, and to provide you with a new, socially and politically grounded, way of thinking about your experiences with sex.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This isn't bad, but it is not for me. Might recommend this to a younger person, since I did appreciate reading The Beauty Myth when I was 22 (and Naomi Wolf didn't write very well and her arguments were redundant). But I'd still rather recommend Ariel Levy's more trenchant and well-written Female Chauvinist Pigs (which Hills also cites several times). Here, I absorbed Hills's point in 15 minutes and wasn't terribly interested in the illustrative anecdotes and interviews with 20-somethings whose This isn't bad, but it is not for me. Might recommend this to a younger person, since I did appreciate reading The Beauty Myth when I was 22 (and Naomi Wolf didn't write very well and her arguments were redundant). But I'd still rather recommend Ariel Levy's more trenchant and well-written Female Chauvinist Pigs (which Hills also cites several times). Here, I absorbed Hills's point in 15 minutes and wasn't terribly interested in the illustrative anecdotes and interviews with 20-somethings whose concerns I can't relate to (or whose worries I might have once shared but that haven't bothered me since I was a college undergrad). I'll put it in the skimmed category. Jessa Crispin's Broadly.vice.com review is a succinct overview of Hills's main points and some problems Crispin had with the book. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/articl...

  3. 4 out of 5

    BookAddict ✒ La Crimson Femme

    Whenever I see a book mentioning Sex Myth, I'm intrigued to see what it is all about. I picked up Ms. Hills' book with no expectations. In fact, I didn't read the blurb because I wanted to go into this blind with no expectations. And even then, I must have had expectations because the book is not as I expected. It is very clear from the first couple of chapters, Ms. Hills is an ardent feminist. Her writing voice shows her concerns about how sex is still used to bind and constrict us, even in this Whenever I see a book mentioning Sex Myth, I'm intrigued to see what it is all about. I picked up Ms. Hills' book with no expectations. In fact, I didn't read the blurb because I wanted to go into this blind with no expectations. And even then, I must have had expectations because the book is not as I expected. It is very clear from the first couple of chapters, Ms. Hills is an ardent feminist. Her writing voice shows her concerns about how sex is still used to bind and constrict us, even in this day of loose morality. There is also a bit of underlying frustration against a patriarchal society. These all lead me to believe Ms. Hills is a woman of great learning, compassion, passion and an idealists. I recognize these traits in her because I too was once this way. I'm not sure if it is because I'm jaded or I've experienced the nuances of feminist sexuality which makes me think differently. It would be interesting to converse with Ms. Hill and see in ten years, if she still feels the same at the conclusions she's drawn. Now that will probably not be fair because societal norms are constantly changing even when it seems the foundations stay the same. Whilst there are many concepts/ideas Ms. Hills proposes in this book, the very start of the book lends me to believe, I would not agree with her musings. Not that I think they are wrong. Just that it is inapplicable due to where I am in life and how I feel about myself. I didn’t feel unattractive and inadequate just because I wasn’t having sex. I felt that way because I lived in a culture that told me that my sex life was one of the most defining qualities of who I was. It wasn’t sex that was the problem, but the importance that I, and so many others, had attached to it. loc. 186-188 I can understand where Ms. Hills is coming from. I just can't relate. That is really what it comes down to for me. Because for me, her anecdotes from twenty something women did very little for me. What she did show was how so people are very concerned with their sexuality and how much they are getting. What she presents is pretty accurate from my observations - the insecurities of young females. I'm not disagreeing with her theory and her tests. I'm not even arguing against the research she completed. It just doesn't impact me because I've never felt pressure about my sexuality or my sex life. The pressures of being a sexually desirable woman based on mass media is dead on for many women. The need to feel "normal" or be accepted is also accurate. Is someone really straight if they are okay with same sex porn? The way Ms. Hills explores the stereotypes from fraternities to the "Madonna" complex only reveals more hype and myths. Basically, this book I would recommend to teenagers and in their early twenties. It's for those who are still unsure of themselves and let others sway them in thought and behaviour. Ms. Hills nicely summaries this in her last chapter, "the insecurities that plagued me in my early twenties feel a bit absurd. It seems obvious now that the fact that I wasn't sexually active didn't mean there was something terribly wrong with me. Nor did my lack of sex life negate any of the good qualities I had in my possession. (loc. 2757). This book can possibly help open the eyes of youth who feel their self-worth is determined by their sexual appeal or prowess. For me, a forty something married pansexual kinkster, it's been a long time since I cared what others thought of me based on my sexual preference, desires and frequency. *provided by NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    Hmm. Given the subject matter, this book was rather dull. Well-researched and written, but very much a "Sexualities 101" kind of book. A very safe book that just.... offered nothing new or terribly interesting. But then again, I suspect everything that can be said about sex has already been said, many times over, so what's left to say, really? Hmm. Given the subject matter, this book was rather dull. Well-researched and written, but very much a "Sexualities 101" kind of book. A very safe book that just.... offered nothing new or terribly interesting. But then again, I suspect everything that can be said about sex has already been said, many times over, so what's left to say, really?

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angela Meyer

    The Sex Myth encourages us to think about the way we internalise social norms surrounding sex. The book also articulates the confusing mixed messages about sexual identity for those of us who have grown up in a post-1970s 'sexually free' society that still contains strong remnants of conservatism. We may feel shame for having too much sex or too little sex, or for expressing our sexuality in culturally unacceptable ways (which includes *not* embracing/expressing a sexualised self). Old labels an The Sex Myth encourages us to think about the way we internalise social norms surrounding sex. The book also articulates the confusing mixed messages about sexual identity for those of us who have grown up in a post-1970s 'sexually free' society that still contains strong remnants of conservatism. We may feel shame for having too much sex or too little sex, or for expressing our sexuality in culturally unacceptable ways (which includes *not* embracing/expressing a sexualised self). Old labels and boxes still exist, and new ones have been created (from the 'pure' virgin to the 'slut' etc.) making it difficult for people to figure out what they truly desire, and what makes them feel fulfilled. The 'sex myth' is also the emphasis placed on sex as a significant force in our lives, which, Hills argues, undermines other aspects (overshadowing other interests, achievements, and ways of relating and connecting to others). The chapters on masculinity and femininity are very strong. This is a timely book. It will no doubt have a powerful, positive influence on young people of all genders and orientations.

  6. 4 out of 5

    ???

    I was looking forward to reading this book, because it was critically acclaimed. Basically this book is about how media culture is obsessed with sex, and wanted to fill the gap between how much sex people have and what they actually have, their unrealistic expectations, how everyone doesn't lose their v-card at 13 and being a 30 year old virgin isn't a big deal. It also goes on about sexual identity (ie. asexuality) and how society attributes too much meaning to sex as an identity. And then it ta I was looking forward to reading this book, because it was critically acclaimed. Basically this book is about how media culture is obsessed with sex, and wanted to fill the gap between how much sex people have and what they actually have, their unrealistic expectations, how everyone doesn't lose their v-card at 13 and being a 30 year old virgin isn't a big deal. It also goes on about sexual identity (ie. asexuality) and how society attributes too much meaning to sex as an identity. And then it talks about how people set themselves as the baseline for how much sex other people should have, and any more or less is slutiness or prudishness. Rachel Hill's solution to the big hype surrounding a sex-obsessed culture and the pressure to have sex is more or less, "oh, just ignore it. Be your inner essence," or something as equally inane. As if there's some sort of mental switch to turn off. She uses a lot of anecdotes or "individual experiences" to justify her arguments rather than anything from history. I don't think Hills understands the deeper psychological reasons why people have sex-- I don't think it's all overhype. Escapism, passion, learning a skill, endearing yourself to another person, addiction, rewarding yourself or breaking a rule, trying something new, connecting to someone intimately and learning about yourself and about them - rather than just for fun or procreation. These aren't things society just makes up about sex for no reason. Sure, sex isn't a Big Damn Deal like Cosmo or Skins or James Bond or Iron Man or Eminem or a teenage boy would have you think. But it's not a shallow, forgettable experience, which I get the feeling this book tries to imply in various parts. Most of this book is just reiterating stuff like "people say they have more sex than they actually do," "having sex doesn't define your attractiveness or accomplishments," etc. Even when I jumped forward to the conclusion it said the exact same thing. How you don't need to have a lot of sex. How it seems like everyone else is having a lot of sex and if you're not that's not a big deal. How you don't have to have a lot of sex. It reads like a parent trying to convince a child to be good, and to reassure them there's nothing wrong with them. Yawn. I didn't find this book relevant to me or particularly interesting. It's not a research paper, and neither is it a biography, and neither is it a self-help book, seeing as it doesn't give any practical advice other than, "ignore the pressure to have sex". If it's a social study I didn't find it a particularly riveting one? I feel like this book starts out okay then has a bit of an identity crisis. Or maybe a sexuality crisis.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emory Black

    [content warning: talks about r*pe, sexual assault, lgbtiqap+-phobia] This was a very interesting book. At first I struggled to relate to some of the pressures that the people Rachel had interviewed were talking about; I had never been that interested in sex I thought, nor felt much pressure to dress in a certain way. Then I remembered feeling a lot of weight attached to the label of 'virgin' and a lot of relief when I got that label out of the way. I still have never dressed up to attract someon [content warning: talks about r*pe, sexual assault, lgbtiqap+-phobia] This was a very interesting book. At first I struggled to relate to some of the pressures that the people Rachel had interviewed were talking about; I had never been that interested in sex I thought, nor felt much pressure to dress in a certain way. Then I remembered feeling a lot of weight attached to the label of 'virgin' and a lot of relief when I got that label out of the way. I still have never dressed up to attract someone or project my sexuality (real or otherwise) as far as I'm aware. I very recently have been struggling with endometriosis, which has resulted in some very painful sex; this made me question my ability to 'perform' properly in my relationship (I still do to be honest). Luckily we talked. But why is sex even seen as such an important part of a relationship? Why isn't cuddling, spooning, talking, kissing and other things also seen as the cornerstone/s of a relationship? I really recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It does seem caught up in a very "western" context though. This is likely due to the author's location and access to data, and people to talk to. There also did not seem to be any discussion of sex workers. There was some cissexism in the conflation of penises with men and vaginas with women (I also didn't notice any mention of intersex people but may have missed that). I'm glad that transgender people were talked about, especially as I myself am genderqueer and am not in a binary gender category. I'm also glad that asexual people were talked about, as they are often assumed to not exist (merely being seen as 'dysfunctional', part of the Sex Myth). Overall I really enjoyed this book and saw it as a book attempting to challenge what we consider to be normal sex-wise and why.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Written by a millennial journalist about the millennial experience (with many many interviews with real millennials), this book is a smart, insightful, and honest discussion of the social discourses of sex "norms" and assumptions, gender roles, and the impact of these forces on young people of all genders and sexualities. This book brought up some really great points, and even I, as a gender studies minor in college, found this book to be a nice discussion of the culture and forces affecting youn Written by a millennial journalist about the millennial experience (with many many interviews with real millennials), this book is a smart, insightful, and honest discussion of the social discourses of sex "norms" and assumptions, gender roles, and the impact of these forces on young people of all genders and sexualities. This book brought up some really great points, and even I, as a gender studies minor in college, found this book to be a nice discussion of the culture and forces affecting young college students and 20-somethings right now, in 2015. For those newer to the topic, this book will be even more helpful and revolutionary. My only critique of this book is that it only talked about sex experiences and the sex lives of young people, single or in relationships, that are having sex for pleasure, bonding, social status and commitment. The discussion of sex for reproduction was not discussed, and considering many people start having children in their teens and twenties, I would have liked to see some perspectives from people about how their sex lives are different with kids, after abortions, or while dealing with IVF or other reproductive concerns. It seems like many millennials are not considering children and families and reproduction until their 30s, but I know some who are already dealing with it, and because of that, this book lacked their perspective. Aside from that, it talked about liberal and conservative issues with sex, social norms and expectations, education (or the lack thereof), consent and abuse, pleasure and pain, medical conditions, social pressures, and so many other things. Highly recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    This book was really a glorified magazine article. Hills milked the topic way beyond what it was worth. In the end, the book's message - although positive, ie. don't let someone else's sex 'myth' define you - was really more commonsense than anything else. It strikes me as somehow naive to assume that there is anything like 'authentic' sexuality. All of us come into our sexual lives in the context of our culture. This has always been the case - even if the stories around what is acceptable/desir This book was really a glorified magazine article. Hills milked the topic way beyond what it was worth. In the end, the book's message - although positive, ie. don't let someone else's sex 'myth' define you - was really more commonsense than anything else. It strikes me as somehow naive to assume that there is anything like 'authentic' sexuality. All of us come into our sexual lives in the context of our culture. This has always been the case - even if the stories around what is acceptable/desirable have changed, there has never been sex without a story so how is that news? Hills also interviews a great many very young people. Is she really surprised that they're still working out what sex means to them? If all you're looking for is a book that validates whatever sex style you've chosen for yourself, Maria Bello's "Whatever" would be a more honest, interesting choice. As for explaining our sexual behaviors, I think I'll stick with Helen Fisher.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Livingston

    A valuable piece of work, but one that left me a bit frustrated. The author has clearly decided to aim for as broad an audience as possible, which meant that sections of this felt a bit shallow to me. I wanted a stronger research base, and more engagement with existing literature, but I guess I am a social researcher. I was also put off by Hills' insistence on describing the appearance of every one of her interviewees. It was weird. Having said all of that, there's plenty to appreciate in this b A valuable piece of work, but one that left me a bit frustrated. The author has clearly decided to aim for as broad an audience as possible, which meant that sections of this felt a bit shallow to me. I wanted a stronger research base, and more engagement with existing literature, but I guess I am a social researcher. I was also put off by Hills' insistence on describing the appearance of every one of her interviewees. It was weird. Having said all of that, there's plenty to appreciate in this book - and Hills makes her important points clearly and strongly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Taiss

    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, m 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 Rachel Hills 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Thoughts in Books

    I'm a tough sell when it comes to nonfiction sexuality and gender studies books because much of what is being published now has been said before -although perhaps in drier language and with more academic jargon. Rachel Hills presents us with a new look at sexual liberation and what it means to be judged for having too little sex, as well as too much, as well as how to deal with value judgments such as how often, how long, and how exciting. She supports her claims by interjecting interviews she ha I'm a tough sell when it comes to nonfiction sexuality and gender studies books because much of what is being published now has been said before -although perhaps in drier language and with more academic jargon. Rachel Hills presents us with a new look at sexual liberation and what it means to be judged for having too little sex, as well as too much, as well as how to deal with value judgments such as how often, how long, and how exciting. She supports her claims by interjecting interviews she has conducted, and academic journals. Personally, I found some of the writing a little jarring, she would interrupt a thought by introducing an interviewee, or bouncing from topic to topic, and I found the way she wrote to be like an extended magazine article. I think this book is a great introduction for anyone new to the subject who might need lighter reading, and there were some topics that made me think about my own experiences and ideas of 'sexual liberation' but I don't feel like I took a lot away from it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julene

    I've followed Hills' work online for a while, and spent a year awaiting this release. While I didn't identify with much of the "hills and valleys" within, other Millennials I spoke to about the book (who had not read it) said the synopsis was in line with their experiences. This is a good first book, powered by anecdotes and narrative in mostly a good way. I would've enjoyed more in the way of supporting data, especially when expressed directly in comparison to "what people think" -- one of the f I've followed Hills' work online for a while, and spent a year awaiting this release. While I didn't identify with much of the "hills and valleys" within, other Millennials I spoke to about the book (who had not read it) said the synopsis was in line with their experiences. This is a good first book, powered by anecdotes and narrative in mostly a good way. I would've enjoyed more in the way of supporting data, especially when expressed directly in comparison to "what people think" -- one of the few found in the text compares average time until ejaculation to perceived "ideal" time until ejaculation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    Reminiscent of the thousands of conversations I've had with friends and partners over the years. pairs well with Come As You Are. Reminiscent of the thousands of conversations I've had with friends and partners over the years. pairs well with Come As You Are.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roberta

    Originally posted on Roberta's Literary Ramblings I received that ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Overall Impression: Hills does a great job of bringing to light a new form of sexual monitoring that as sprung from our new "sexual freedoms" however, to call this a full-scale investigation like the description says is a little over-the-top. Recommended for: Anyone interested in sex and sexuality studies, as well as those who have ever felt that their sex life doesn't add up Originally posted on Roberta's Literary Ramblings I received that ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Overall Impression: Hills does a great job of bringing to light a new form of sexual monitoring that as sprung from our new "sexual freedoms" however, to call this a full-scale investigation like the description says is a little over-the-top. Recommended for: Anyone interested in sex and sexuality studies, as well as those who have ever felt that their sex life doesn't add up to everyone else's. This was an interesting book to read. Many studies and books tend to focus on the increase of sexual activity in today's society compared to just a couple decades ago. We even see it in media and magazines. Articles about increasing your sex drive and how to have more sex are constantly being written and circulated online and in magazines. However, these articles and studies have given many the impression that everyone is having sex but them. With the help of interviews from a variety of people from across the western world, Rachel Hills shows us that this isn't necessarily the truth. While we have all seen that sex has become less of a taboo than it was once viewed as, the idea of sex as being something to be done in moderation after marriage has really just been replaced be new taboos that can sometimes be just as damaging and ostracizing. Mainly, Hills points out that the current view of what a healthy sex life looks like (regular, multiple partners, and slightly adventurous) is actually far from the reality. In fact, this idea of healthy sexual relationships often becomes a source of anxiety for those whose sex lives, or lack thereof, look different from the one that society has said is the right way to have a sex life. Much like people were looked down on for having sex, now those who don't have sex are seen as deviants or sexually repressed. This society has become a rather sex-centric one, yet the sex that is often seen on television or read about in our bestselling books isn't representative of the sex that the general population is having. In fact, there is a population of those who choose to abstain from sex just because they don't need it in their lives. Yet, the fact that they aren't having sex often—or aren't having the kind of sex that most talk about, i.e. BDSM or fetishes—brings them anxiety since the socially accepted image of a healthy sex life is so narrow that many struggle to fit within that mold. Hills book is here to tell us that our sex lives are not abnormal or unhealthy. The thing that makes many people's sex lives unhealthy is trying to force their lives to fit into this mold. It's the misconception about how, when, how much, and with whom that people are having sex that actually cause unhealthy habits to form. While this book isn't full of statistics and numbers, it becomes clear through the many interviews that she has conducted that we need to start rethinking sex...again. We need to become more open to other forms of sexuality and sex lives. We need to stop calling those who don't have sex prudes and those who enjoy something that is—to society's standards—abnormal perverts. And lastly, we all need to figure out what kind of sex lives we want to lead and become comfortable with ourselves and our needs. This self-acceptance—and hopefully a change in the general mindset of the population—will lead to a less anxiety-filled and more satisfied existence for all. If you've ever felt anxious about your sex life not matching up with expectations—and I'm sure many of us have—then I would suggest you read this book. It was highly informative, well-written, and the interviews depicted a wide variety of lives that reveals that most people don't fit into a nice little mold. Most of us deviate in some way from the "norm" and we shouldn't feel shy or awkward about it, because really, the "norm" is not being normal. Which I guess means that there really is no "normal" when it comes to our sex lives. I will leave the philosophers to ponder that one out.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

    What I liked about this book: -Honest attempt at the looking at the breadth and depth of our cultures and ideals around sex -The distracting masquerade of 'sexual liberation' and how to de-couple sex and sexiness so that it doesn't comprise our whole worth as people (and how current, Western ideals and power structures have aided in sex becoming the only-important-thing -it slices! it dices! it sells cars and lettuce!) -To that end, this quote: "Today, the Sex Myth is sold through a mirage of liber What I liked about this book: -Honest attempt at the looking at the breadth and depth of our cultures and ideals around sex -The distracting masquerade of 'sexual liberation' and how to de-couple sex and sexiness so that it doesn't comprise our whole worth as people (and how current, Western ideals and power structures have aided in sex becoming the only-important-thing -it slices! it dices! it sells cars and lettuce!) -To that end, this quote: "Today, the Sex Myth is sold through a mirage of liberalism, urging us to perform symbols of freedom such as casual sex, creative sexual experimentation, and passionate desire. But the Sex Myth is not inherently concerned with freedom. It is a regulatory force that shapes our sexual beliefs and behavior to reflect the preoccupations and ideals of the culture we live in. (p. 203 in the paperback edition)" -Examples from a range of orientations, from 'straight' to 'gay' to 'bi' to 'asexual' -Challenging masculinity as it's currently drawn, and similarly challenging femininity -Challenging social class - the author made a great point about how prejudice against the working class and the poor is what's often operating at the center of 'slut shaming' -A number of ideas I hadn't considered, such as the culture of minimizing 'kinks' until they're just something that conventional folks try on and toss away, thus devaluing the actual cultures that people engage in; internalized homophobia for non-hetero folk and how that can play out; -Homework = √ done. The bibliography is extensive -Thoughts on how to apply choice and agency, and abstinence as a legit choice for any individual What I wished this book included -More non-white, non-straight perspectives; I realize that this may be beyond the ability of the author, she's just one person writing one book, after all, but as a person from Australia, I'd hoped she'd include more about Aboriginal and Asian cultures -These books are always notoriously light on how to move forward, change our thinking, etc. Still, a big arrow pointing 'this is the problem! I found the problem!' can only be so satisfying -I think there must have been a stiffness to the writing/voice because I kept losing focus while reading. It was a bit of a struggle to get through, though I'm glad I did -Masculinity and sexual violence - there's a lot that one can say on this but the author spends about 5 pages on it; I get that this topic could literally eat your book, but 5 pages? I would have been curious to see this tied to violence and dominance among men (sports scandals? issues in the church?) and how that relates to sexuality, if it indeed does So, you see, Ms. Hills covered a range. I'm glad she did, and I'll keep thinking on what she presented in "The Sex Myth." I hope more young researchers and writers take up the banner. There's so much to say and learn here, and much to hear and learn from non-Western cultures. Goodreads doesn't permit half stars, but if I could I'd go for 3.5.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rosamund

    First of all, thank you very much to Rachel Hills and her Twitter giveaway that ended up in me winning a copy of this as an audiobook! This book was simultaneously validating and exhausting, encompassing thoughts I’ve been having from since I was about 17 up until now. Interpretations and ways of sex that are off-limits to some, but mean everything to others. It was perturbing to realise how deeply it’s a social game, even if you try to keep it to yourself. The chapter about casual sex and emotio First of all, thank you very much to Rachel Hills and her Twitter giveaway that ended up in me winning a copy of this as an audiobook! This book was simultaneously validating and exhausting, encompassing thoughts I’ve been having from since I was about 17 up until now. Interpretations and ways of sex that are off-limits to some, but mean everything to others. It was perturbing to realise how deeply it’s a social game, even if you try to keep it to yourself. The chapter about casual sex and emotions was very spot-on. It does focus on 20-somethings, mostly ones in college, which did leave me hungry for other viewpoints. These people were from all over the Western, English-speaking world - Hills probably found them over the internet, which in turn probably accounts for this. I don’t know if it could have been a bit shorter, as the chapters on masculinity and femininity seemed to be repeating stuff I’ve read a lot before on the internet and didn't really boost the main point. If you’re looking for a book that explores the sex side of feminism that goes a little deeper than simply the virgin/whore dichotomy (or Madonna/Gaga as it’s described here), this is it. Finally, although not a comment on the book itself: this was my first ever adult audiobook! I get that the copy I received, at least, was sold in the US, but since the author is Australian, I thought the American voice actor was a pretty baffling choice. Did the marketers think Americans don’t understand non-American accents? It was particularly distracting when she said things like "in my hometown, Sydney" and used very British words like "shag", "cheeky" and "having a laugh". Don’t even mention "Michel" (as in Foucault) being pronounced wrong over and over, or "Timon" (as in Timon & Pumbaa)...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This is a very important book. At times the ethnographic component of it seemed to hinder the argumentative thrust. It took me a while to read due to my own anxieties and (Hills would argue merely perceived) inadequacies and didn't really make me feel any better. The conglomeration of voices who had had tons of exciting sex with many partners had the effect of setting that as the standards even though the book has resources to argue against that. As Hills notes there is a difference between unde This is a very important book. At times the ethnographic component of it seemed to hinder the argumentative thrust. It took me a while to read due to my own anxieties and (Hills would argue merely perceived) inadequacies and didn't really make me feel any better. The conglomeration of voices who had had tons of exciting sex with many partners had the effect of setting that as the standards even though the book has resources to argue against that. As Hills notes there is a difference between understanding an argument intellectually and having one's affective behavior thereby changed. Hills also does not theorize how sex is sort of unique but not the defining component of one's identity. Everyone should read this even though it made me feel like a failure at points. Maybe I've bought into the sex myth but the fact is that everyone's sexual history is their history and we are never getting that time back. We are never getting back the times we spent worrying about being unattractive instead of doing anything else.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anino

    **ARC received courtesy of Netgalley & the Publisher, in exchange for an honest review** As a (currently single) Gen-X'er with a degree in Sociology, I am always up for reading something academic that explains why our society is either so dysfunctional when it comes to sex, or even why we aren't having as much good sex at all. Although this researcher is from the Millennial cohort, she has managed to craft an intriguing piece of academically sound narrative research that can appeal to just about e **ARC received courtesy of Netgalley & the Publisher, in exchange for an honest review** As a (currently single) Gen-X'er with a degree in Sociology, I am always up for reading something academic that explains why our society is either so dysfunctional when it comes to sex, or even why we aren't having as much good sex at all. Although this researcher is from the Millennial cohort, she has managed to craft an intriguing piece of academically sound narrative research that can appeal to just about every cohort. This book does not disappoint, and it won't bore you to death. Despite the fact that she focused more on Millennials, I am curious to know what tricks she'll manage to pull out of her bag, if she should conduct further research on other cohorts, such as the Generation X cohort (aka the coolest generation of them all..).. Giving this one: 5 stars.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Before reading this, I was a little confused as to what "The Sex Myth" refers too, and after reading I feel like I know why. Rachel hills does a wonderful job explaining the Sex Myth and it's many contradicting layers of socially deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I definitely learned somethings, one of the lessons I took away as most important is that however you do "it"--often or not, kinky or vanilla--don't overthink it, everyone has the same worries about it that you do. Although I Before reading this, I was a little confused as to what "The Sex Myth" refers too, and after reading I feel like I know why. Rachel hills does a wonderful job explaining the Sex Myth and it's many contradicting layers of socially deemed acceptable and unacceptable behavior. I definitely learned somethings, one of the lessons I took away as most important is that however you do "it"--often or not, kinky or vanilla--don't overthink it, everyone has the same worries about it that you do. Although I sometimes found the book a bit repetitive, I think it is well worth the read for anyone who ever worried about their sex-life. No, it won't take away your anxiety, but you can take heart when reading the variety of interviews that no one's sex-life is perfect. It's a quick read and very informative (you'd be surprised by the amount of research done on the subject of sex considering how little it's talked about!) and definitely worth the time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gingamc

    The Sex Myth is a comprehensive look and examination of what we talk about when we talk about sex. If I had the money and the ability to fly an airplane, I'd airdrop this knowledge into the heartland, the halls of Congress, and all the locations with little to no comprehensive sex education. The Sex Myth does a remarkable job at demystifying the codes and stories we swap about all the ways that sex is an intimate (and political and cultural) undertaking. The first person accounts of how they sha The Sex Myth is a comprehensive look and examination of what we talk about when we talk about sex. If I had the money and the ability to fly an airplane, I'd airdrop this knowledge into the heartland, the halls of Congress, and all the locations with little to no comprehensive sex education. The Sex Myth does a remarkable job at demystifying the codes and stories we swap about all the ways that sex is an intimate (and political and cultural) undertaking. The first person accounts of how they shaped their sense of self, their worth, and their agency is riveting and at least one of the characters is likely to resonate with your own story of sexual discovery. If you've ever questioned your sexuality and what you think is "normal", this is the book for you. Now if if we could only get politicians out of our bedrooms...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. presented at november 2015 ASSECT, p. 97-99, about desire, misconceptions about desire. heard the author on the radio today on Q http://www.cbc.ca/radio/popup/audio/p... I liked what she said, except for the part about how she selected her population and how she decided what to talk about with people. It is important to remember she isn't a scientist of any kind and she hasn't studied sex in any academic way. Her 200 people aren't representative of anything. This book is written in a journalistic presented at november 2015 ASSECT, p. 97-99, about desire, misconceptions about desire. heard the author on the radio today on Q http://www.cbc.ca/radio/popup/audio/p... I liked what she said, except for the part about how she selected her population and how she decided what to talk about with people. It is important to remember she isn't a scientist of any kind and she hasn't studied sex in any academic way. Her 200 people aren't representative of anything. This book is written in a journalistic tradition reaching back to Nancy Friday Nancy Friday and Shere Hite Shere Hite. ordered from the library today

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mòrag

    I have been a fan of Rachel Hill's work since I was in university, so when she announced she was writing her first book I was well and truly IN LINE waiting for it to come out. And as expected, it did not disappoint. Through anecdotes from millennials and Gen Y'ers, Hill argues that the way sex that is depicted in the media and what is sold to us in glossy magazines is not just untrue, but also damaging. And we're not just talking abstinence only education here, we're also talking about the 'lib I have been a fan of Rachel Hill's work since I was in university, so when she announced she was writing her first book I was well and truly IN LINE waiting for it to come out. And as expected, it did not disappoint. Through anecdotes from millennials and Gen Y'ers, Hill argues that the way sex that is depicted in the media and what is sold to us in glossy magazines is not just untrue, but also damaging. And we're not just talking abstinence only education here, we're also talking about the 'liberated' media which paints a picture of what a forward thinking and progressive young persons sex life SHOULD look like. Basically if you've ever felt rubbish about you sex life - because you're into something kinky or because you're not having it at all - read this and feel better. And then fight for the true sexual liberation that Rachel talks about.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Max

    3.5 stars Good topic, good writing, but at times this felt slightly shallow - more depth in certain areas would have been warranted (or at least a list of other books to pair with this one). Hills writes this book with youth in mind - her interviewees range from high-school age to maybe a 'youngish' 27 or 28. Even when I was younger I don't think any of her interviewees reflected my views of sex and sexuality. A wider swath of people to interview would have made this a far more rounded book, but 3.5 stars Good topic, good writing, but at times this felt slightly shallow - more depth in certain areas would have been warranted (or at least a list of other books to pair with this one). Hills writes this book with youth in mind - her interviewees range from high-school age to maybe a 'youngish' 27 or 28. Even when I was younger I don't think any of her interviewees reflected my views of sex and sexuality. A wider swath of people to interview would have made this a far more rounded book, but would have diluted her messages regarding youth and sexuality. Certainly an interesting book, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, although perhaps with a few caveats.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Zuzka Jakubkova

    Solid piece of research on the discrepancy between how people perceive their sex lives should look like and how do they actually look like. Work of Rachel Hills spans multiple interviewees and several years and provides a good case for dismantling the Sex Myth mainstream media and culture tries to sell us.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Interesting, fast read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate Walton

    A lot of this book really resonated with me. I would have loved to have read more of Rachel's discussions with her interviewees, though - I feel like more quotes/stories would have made it stronger. A lot of this book really resonated with me. I would have loved to have read more of Rachel's discussions with her interviewees, though - I feel like more quotes/stories would have made it stronger.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janine

    It was ok, there where parts I agreed with and then parts I felt glossed over.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucinda Gardiner

    It reads like an overlong Cosmo piece that the features ed should have hacked into rather than something to be commissioned into book form.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel J.

    I give this book five stars – perhaps unfairly – because what stood out to me in my reading of it was its ability to provide comfort and solace in an area of my life that I have most often felt deeply insecure about. It may seem dishonest to rate this book based on what it offers to me personally as opposed to its specific contributions to literature on the topic (and for this reason I do detail what I perceive as the most appreciable flaws of this book in the latter part of this review). Noneth I give this book five stars – perhaps unfairly – because what stood out to me in my reading of it was its ability to provide comfort and solace in an area of my life that I have most often felt deeply insecure about. It may seem dishonest to rate this book based on what it offers to me personally as opposed to its specific contributions to literature on the topic (and for this reason I do detail what I perceive as the most appreciable flaws of this book in the latter part of this review). Nonetheless, I feel it necessary to emphasize the therapeutic nature of Hill’s writing to me, as this is what shaped the majority of my opinion of The Sex Myth. In the earlier days of my young adulthood, my friends used to come to me joyously proclaiming the successes of their sensual and sexual conquests. I never felt fully comfortable sharing in their enthusiasm but maintained a façade of interest for the sake of appearing “normal”. When it became clear not only to my friends but others in my surrounding that I held unusual attitudes towards affairs of romantic and sexual nature, I was met with fierce resistance. People attempted to reconstruct my reality into something that was more palatable or intelligible to themselves; to them, I couldn’t possibly not be interested, nor was the possibility of asexuality taken into serious consideration. My unwillingness to participate in what is regarded as socially acceptable behavior was cast as personal inadequacy as opposed to failings on the part of society as a whole to be welcoming of a broad spectrum of experiences. My reservations vis-à-vis hookup culture and the very practice of sex itself were construed as my own emotional and social deficiencies, rather than symptoms of a new order that we desperately cling to as liberating and inclusive but encroaches upon the very opposite. Reading this book made me feel once again comfortably seated in the therapist’s chair, discussing and unraveling what I saw as my own abnormality. It is only through rigorous therapy that I have been able to work through these issues and come to a place of self-acceptance and contentment rather than torturous anxieties and self-doubt, and I still have work to do. My reading of The Sex Myth was a pleasurable, if not reassuring, experience. I now occupy my days with various other intellectual and creative pursuits, and I am happy. Of course this is not to say that my lifestyle is either superior or inferior to what is considered the norm. It is simply different. “True female sexual autonomy doesn’t just necessitate the right for women to have sex without stigma or judgment, although this is of course important. It also needs to entail the right to confidently not have sex when it is unwanted or unavailable on the terms she might prefer. And ultimately, it means rejecting the idea that there are only two options for explaining women’s engagement with sex – that any of us are either wholly ‘pure’ or ‘empowered,’ innocent Madonna or self-assured Gaga.” (p. 165) This paragraph right here is such a great summary of the gripes I hold against contemporary feminism (to be sure, I realize ‘feminism’ is an inadequate term here in referring to what is essentially a collection of rather disparate belief systems grouped under a single unified cause). So often I – and many others, it seems, from what is included in Hill’s book – have been told that to refrain from frequent and novel sexual encounters is equivalent to being eternally oppressed by the patriarchal structures that be. By choosing not to exploit women’s newfound sexual freedom and liberation I am somehow actively and consciously prolonging my own subjugation. I personally find this to be patently false. To that I respond quite earnestly: who are you to declare me oppressed? I have the privilege of choice – we now live in a time in which I may set the terms of my own sexuality, and I personally do not find myself under the command of some mysterious oppressive force. I am staunchly sex positive – but only insofar as I and I only may dictate the terms of my sex life and am not declared a “fake feminist” when I choose not to give in to what the new norm, the new ideal was rewritten to be. Now, on to what I consider the shortcomings of Hill’s work. I will echo a number of other reviews in saying that this book is largely Eurocentric in its approach. Perhaps that is because Western society is the major proponent of the sexual paradox described within. But it is for that very reason that I believe that other cultural perspectives would have been a worthy addition to this book, if only as a counterbalance to the numerous examples and anecdotes Hill has incorporated. And while I can appreciate the anecdotal evidence provided, I would have liked to have seen a slightly greater reliance on statistical evidence to drive the point home. This is, quite frankly, the full extent of my critique. I highly recommend this book to anyone - not only because I think it is possible to find within it something for everyone, but because it is one important step towards dismantling the Sex Myth itself.

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