What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire

( 8 )

Overview

Critically acclaimed journalist Daniel Bergner turns everything we thought we knew about women's arousal and desire inside out. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with scientists and everyday women, he forces us to reconsider long-held notions about female sexuality.

As he explores the answers to a number of fascinating questions, Bergner debunks myths and looks at the future of female sexuality, including the possibility of a "female Viagra." He goes behind the scenes...

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Overview

Critically acclaimed journalist Daniel Bergner turns everything we thought we knew about women's arousal and desire inside out. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with scientists and everyday women, he forces us to reconsider long-held notions about female sexuality.

As he explores the answers to a number of fascinating questions, Bergner debunks myths and looks at the future of female sexuality, including the possibility of a "female Viagra." He goes behind the scenes of some of the most groundbreaking experiments on sexuality today and confronts us with controversial, sometimes uncomfortable findings.

Incendiary, profoundly insightful, and brilliantly illuminating, What Do Women Want? will change the conversation about women and sex, and is sure to spark debate for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Suspicious of evolution-based assumptions about female desire—such as the views that women prefer monogamy and that women find emotional connections key to physical satisfaction—Bergner (The Other Side of Desire) looks to past and current scientific and social research, as well as interviews with everyday women, to uncover the truth behind female sexuality. In accessible and informative prose, the author addresses topics as wide-ranging as scientific studies of female rats and monkeys, the implications of biological differences between the sexes (does the fact that women have a limited quantity of reproductive material—as opposed to men’s regenerative supply of sperm—offer insight into the discrepancies between the male and female libidos?), the role of narcissism in desire, the effects of orgasm on the brain, and what happens when women—not men—are the ones to switch seats during a speed-dating session. Bergner isn’t afraid to take on the most taboo of subjects (such as rape fantasies), but he does so through a critical lens that seeks to reveal the why behind the phenomenon under investigation. This page-turning book will have readers questioning some of their most ingrained beliefs about women, men, society, and sex. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
Accessible, engaging inquiry into the boundaries of the female libido by New York Times Magazine contributor Bergner (The Other Side of Desire, 2009, etc.). The author's multifaceted exploration travels across varied terrain, ranging from the varieties of female orgasms and the effect of monogamy on lust to the development of a female desire drug. Bergner combines into a cogent whole vast amounts of information on female sexuality gleaned from interviews, academic papers, scores of books and data gathered from conversations with researchers. He begins with Meredith Chivers, whom Bergner describes as a bold sexologist and a careful statistician whose always-scrupulous work explores women's primal and essential selves. One of the author's provocative conclusions, arrived at after years spent talking with Chivers and her subjects, explodes one of society's ingrained concepts: "Women are supposed to be the standard's more natural allies, caretakers, defenders, their sexual beings more suited biologically, to faithfulness. We hold tight to the fairy tale." Bergner devotes a chapter to the varied ways female sexuality has been perceived since classical times, then probes societal and cultural mores that have pegged women as the less lustful gender. Using scientific studies as a scaffolding, he translates data from studies performed on monkeys and rats, explaining how its interpretation over the years has negated information regarding female sexuality. "What science had managed to miss in the monkeys--what it had effectively erased--was female desire," he writes. In another example of his adroit translation of technical material into entertaining and erudite reading for curious readers, the author distills a highly entertaining chapter on speed dating from a 2009 article titled, "Arbitrary social norms influence sex differences in romantic selectivity." Stylishly written and cogently organized, making it easy and rewarding for lay readers to understand and appreciate some fairly complex science.
Salon.com
“This book should be read by every woman on earth... a must-read for anyone with even a remote erotic interest in the female gender.”--Salon.com
Atlantic Review
“...Shatters many of our most cherished myths about desire.”—The Atlantic
New York magazine
Totally engrossing.”--New York magazine
Slate
“Fascinating.... Threatens to disrupt all the modern stereotypes of female sexuality.”--Slate
New York Post
“It’s everything you wanted to know about sex but didn’t know to ask. Daniel Bergner upends long-standing myths about women and sex—everything from nature of attraction and pursuit to prevalence of taboo fantasies to monogamy itself.”
Vogue
What Do Women Want? adds both steam and explosives into the national conversation-or preoccupation-with what it means to be a woman today.”
Elle
“Bergner lays out the history of this brainwashing and then debunks it in his entertaining new book, What do Women Want?. He recaps ingenious studies that have plumbed our desires, including those we deny or hide from ourselves.”
The Atlantic
“...Shatters many of our most cherished myths about desire.”--The Atlantic
Gay Talese
“Daniel Bergner has written a keenly intelligent book about a subject that often exceeds our intelligence: What Do Women Want?”
Diane Ackerman
“At last, we have a new perspective on the wilds of female desire, in rousing tableaux, as women, men, sexologists, bonobos, erotic gurus, and many others provide frank, vivid answers to the question that has haunted [us] for far too long: What do women want? The answer will fascinate all.”
Library Journal
Bergner picks up with the questions raised in his previous book The Other Side of Desire, in which a researcher asks provocative questions about female sexual desire. What if the popular belief that females are the more monogamous, relationship-oriented gender isn't true? What if females are wired to be less monogamous than males? Taking a position similar to Christopher Ryan's Sex at Dawn, Bergner unravels vignettes from the latest research. Along the way, readers are introduced to the sexual desires of monkeys and rats, the waning of such feelings in marriage, and even the gamble for pharmaceutical research companies to be first in finding a pill that awakens female sexual desire. VERDICT There is no question that readers unfamiliar with female desire will find this book engaging, even startling, as a different image of female sexuality emerges. Nonetheless, Bergner's pop-science journalism glosses over the subject's complexity, omitting evidence of evolutionary psychology and discussion with credible critics. Recommended to readers interested in human sexuality.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061906084
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Pages: 210
  • Sales rank: 187,600
  • Product dimensions: 14.80 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Bergner is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and the author of three previous nonfiction books: The Other Side of Desire; In the Land of Magic Soldiers, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year and winner of an Overseas Press Club Award and a Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage; and God of the Rodeo, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2013

    Don't bother with this book.  It only offers a review of scienti

    Don't bother with this book.  It only offers a review of scientific literature on the topic of female sexuality, and it doesn't do a particularly good job of it.  One could simply find a recent article on the topic and read the review of literature at the beginning of the piece.  If still interested in more, you can just check out the original studies.  Also, the logic of this work is flawed.  Measuring vaginal secretions or the behavior of animals won't give much insight into what human females actually think, feel, want or will give in to.  

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If you're looking for a self-help book, this is not it. If you w

    If you're looking for a self-help book, this is not it. If you want to see how science is trying to help women with
    disappearing lust and sexual satisfaction this is it.  It may be a few years old, but the science and psychology,
    alongalong with the interviewed women's stories, is fascinating.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    What do women want

    Saw the author on the colbert report so i bought the book. Its an easy read and is all about sex

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2014

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    Posted June 20, 2013

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    Posted June 30, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

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