Book Review: “The Truth about Sex”


We continue to believe that there is such a thing as “too much sex”, as if sex itself is a problem. I don’t think sex is a problem. I think the problem is that people make lousy choices.

Thus writes glorious Gloria Brame, sex therapist extraordinaire, blogger, kinkster and tweeter in what she describes as her “hot new book”, The Truth about Sex.

Yes: if you want a daily dose of thought-provoking imagery, do sign up for her feed: @DrGloriaBrame . Its definitely NSFW. But its also always interesting: erotica with a twist.

Sex sells – even when its sensible

Back, though, to “The Truth”. Like all such books, it falls between two stools. On the one hand, the mere fact that it mentions the smut-word means that all publicity almost inevitably falls into the category of nudge-nudge wink-wink naughtiness: a sort of tacit acceptance that everything to do with sex automatically places it outside of everyday decency.

Which is ironic. For the book itself is a cornucopia of experience and utter common sense about an activity that has pre-occupied mankind since cavemen learnt to draw. Not only: but its core message is laden with commonsense: that one of the main problems with sex is not sex itself, but the taboos and preconceptions with which society has chosen to load it down.

Potted verdict

I love this book. Had I not the privilege of a review copy, I might actually have broken with tradition and shelled out hard cash to buy my own personal copy.

First, because the language is simple, forthright, direct: an absolute joy to read, treating subjects too often shrouded in euphemism with an honesty they all too often lack.

Ms Brame asks – cogently – just how normal is “normal”, suggesting that on the evidence available, the reproductive model (RM) of sex as something set aside for making babies and maybe elevated into “something special”, is NOT the usual. That people in general experience a range of desires, attractions and paraphilias that transcend RM normality.

Judgmental pottiness

There is a neat opening discourse on masturbation. A fascinating history lesson that begins with the origins of the myth that masturbation is debilitating (its not: Ms B cites 18 solid, researched reasons why orgasm is actually good for your health) and works its way up to the incredible contribution made by sex crank (and cereal dynasty founder) Kellogg who believed that if only people would eat enough of his cornflakes, they would no longer feel the need to sap their strength through masturbation.

On through bizarre experiments with goat glands and monkey testicles.

On again to 19th century medics who, over-turning a previous medical ignorance of female sexuality, prescribed “pelvic massage”, delivered by selfsame medics – in a most professional manner, obviously! – to induce “hysterical paroxysms” (aka orgasm) as a cure for “hysteria”.

On again through much more modern and more tragic quackery: the fact that as recent as 1961, the American Psychiatric Association – the same body now trying to define “sexual addiction” as a disorder, and to bring transsexuality and homosexuality back into the fold as problematic – regarded masturbation as disease.

And on into case study after case study revealing how individuals suffering from allegedly sexual issues in their relationships weren’t: rather, they were suffering from relationship issues and, in many cases, they were suffering from social prejudices in respect of their own sexuality.

Just buy it: NOW!

This – the first of what is promised to be a series on the subject – is a breath of fresh air. I have one minor quibble – and that is Ms Brame’s delight at the role played by Freud in sexual enlightenment. Sorry, no: for me, Freud will always remain one of the bad guys.

But otherwise, I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a long time – and would thoroughly recommend it to friends – but not necessarily all my relatives. If your sex life works, its an interesting read: and if your sex life doesn’t, then this (including some very handy self-help exercises at the back) might be a start to understanding why not.

jane xx

The Truth About Sex, A Sex Primer for the 21st Century Volume I: Sex and the Self. It costs approx. $18 to order it online now.

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Obviously I don’t read books about sexual behaviour but it never ceases to amaze me how much time the average ‘person’ expends thinking about it. Sex isn’t a spectator sport for me. I’m sure all this talk of masturbation and hairy palms, Mr Kellogg and pervy medics touching up Victorian ladies is new the odd person but, lets face it, it’s a bit old hat.

    You did hit the nail on the head Jane with the mention that Ms Brame’s ‘delight at the role played by Freud in sexual enlightenment.’ Oops, there goes the tiny glimmer of credibility that the lovely Gloria might have had. Lets face it Jane, I can see how the book might be a fun read for the sexually repressed or deprived but yank sex therapists really ought to keep their quackery for the daft so and so’s who can afford their dubious services. If we’re going to take the sensible and enlightened view that all psychology and psychiatry is subjective bollocks, and we know it is. Sex therapists must come alone at about the QVC level of psychology.

    One tiny detail, and it might be nothing, but have you noticed that sex therapists always have blokes with beards, euk. No self respecting woman would ever allow he man to sport such a disgusting piece of facial fungus.
    Sophie’s first rule of sex therapy, ‘Shave that crap off your face or even your mum won’t kiss you’. Men with beards have something to hide ~snigger~

  2. 2

    harleymc said,

    Sophie’s response reeks of both misandrogeny and misogyny
    Firstly facial hair is not confined to men, lots of women grow facial hair. Women with facial hair are cast into the do not exist bin.
    Then we get the innacurate desciptions of facial hair, a tissue type produced by our largest organ, as ‘crap’ or as ‘fungus’. This displays a willful ignorance masquerading as factoid. Does Sophie also believe that scalp hair is ‘crap’ or ‘fungus’?
    Again she attacks women, ” No self respecting woman would ever allow he man…”. How dare Sophie blanket-judge womens’ self respect?
    Just to bring home the point that Sophie is trolling… “~snigger~” yeah it’s all a bit of a laugh to Soph who attacks both men and women in the same post.

    • 3

      I’m sooooo sorry I have clearly upset you Harley Motorcycle Club. I think you’ll find the mis word you’re dredging your vocab for is MISANTHROPY.

      You’re also on the list of people I really, really love. Those lovely people who’s chain has the label ‘Yank me’ clearly written on it.

      Just in case you missed the main points here I’m right, again and you’re a very silly man…. yankerty yank yank xxx

  3. 4

    Paula TransPanther said,

    My ex had quite a tash.. she loved it and wished she could grow more of it.

    I have told my husband off for shaving off his beard because he thought I would want him to. Now he knows better.. don’t assume what I want or don’t want. I’m perfectly capable of letting him know my preferences.

    Sex Therapists .. meh.. been there done that, and that.. and that.. and that.. and then it’s over.. put the kettle on and lets have a cuppa. You brew and I’ll deal with the wet patch 🙂

    They never have any realy sensible advice like “screw the legs of the kitchen table to the floor unless you like bashing your head on the side of the sink”.. or is that just an Aussie thing? I wonder if the bloke in the hardware shop has stopped laughing yet from when I explained why I needed 8 small right angle brackets.

  4. 5

    […] males to the exclusion of all others. The history of female sexuality – and i’m indebted to Gloria Brame for some source material here – was mostly written by the patriarchy, with men setting down […]


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