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What Do Women Want?: Adventures In The Science Of Female Desire [Hardcover]

Daniel Bergner
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 27 2013

In What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire, critically acclaimed journalist Daniel Bergne disseminates the latest scientific research and paints an unprecedented portrait of female lust: the triggers, the fantasies, the mind-body connection (and disconnection), the reasons behind the loss of libido, and, most revelatory, that this loss is not inevitable.

Bergner asks: Are women actually the less monogamous gender? Do women really crave intimacy and emotional connection? Are women more disposed to sex with strangers and multiple pairings than either science or society have ever let on? And is “the fairer sex” actually more sexually aggressive and anarchic than men?

While debunking the myths popularized by evolutionary psychology, Bergner also looks at the future of female sexuality. Pharmaceutical companies are pouring billions of dollars to develop a “Viagra” for women. But will it ever be released? Or are we not yet ready for a world in which women can become aroused at the simple popping of a pill?

Insightful and illuminating, What Do Women Want? is a deeper exploration of Daniel Bergner's provocative New York Times Magazine cover story; it will spark dynamic debates and discussions for years to come.

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What Do Women Want?: Adventures In The Science Of Female Desire + Mating In Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence
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“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 (Salon.com)

“...Shatters many of our most cherished myths about desire.”--The Atlantic (The Atlantic)

“Daniel Bergner has written a keenly intelligent book about a subject that often exceeds our intelligence: What Do Women Want?” (Gay Talese)

Totally engrossing.”--New York magazine (New York magazine)

“Fascinating.... Threatens to disrupt all the modern stereotypes of female sexuality.”--Slate (Slate)

“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.” (Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of Love)

“Accessible and informative prose . . . this page-turning book will have readers questioning some of their most ingrained beliefs about women, men, society, and sex.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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.” (New York Post)

What Do Women Want? adds both steam and explosives into the national conversation-or preoccupation-with what it means to be a woman today.” (Vogue)

“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.” (Elle)

From the Back Cover

When it comes to sex, common wisdom holds that men roam while women crave closeness and commitment. But in this provocative, headline-making book, Daniel Bergner turns everything we thought we knew about women's arousal and desire inside out. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with renowned behavioral scientists, sexologists, psychologists, and everyday women, he forces us to reconsider long-held notions about female sexuality.

This bold and captivating journey into the world of female desire explores answers to such thought-provoking questions as: Are women perhaps the less monogamous sex? What effect do intimacy and emotional connection really have on lust? What is the role of narcissism—the desire to be desired—in female sexuality? Are political gains for women ("No means no") detrimental in the bedroom? And is the hunt for a "female Viagra" anything but a search for the cure for monogamy?

Bergner 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 dynamic discussion for years to come.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read Aug. 23 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is revolutionary. The journey we go on with Bergner as he interviews scientists and their fascinating research, from hot monkey sex to the hunt for a human female viagra, illuminates a little more of a still very mysterious and elusive phenomenon: what on earth is the anatomy of female desire? Bergner is the perfect gentleman to tell this story. He subtly takes the woman's side as he humbly reports the scientific facts - and quietly wonders, in the wake of what these facts reveal, if men are actually much more suited to monogamy than women are, and whether monogamy is actually a patriarchal construct designed to keep women from creating what men fear would be social-libidenous chaos. There are deep and important questions raised in this book. Alongside the discovery that silent, frigid sadness is nothing short of an epidemic for married women, a little-known devastating fact, Bergner also gives vivid descriptions of how female arousal works and why it's designed to give such ecstatic pleasure to women, seven times the pleasure of men, it seems. Every now and again a book appears that turns old thinking on its head and invites us to consider something radically new. It's not that female sexuality is new, it's that we've never been allowed to look at it this way before, and never had such diverse scientific research to draw on for answers. If unveiling taboos is profound liberation, given what we discover in this book, it's no wonder that Fifty Shades of Grey was a blockbuster blow-out. I highly recommend this book to every kind of reader. It's entertaining, informative, thought-provoking, and at times can't help being titillating. More than anything it's brave and honest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unpopular science in an accessible voice Nov. 23 2013
How interesting to find this book using the same title as a classic feminist work about emotions and gender to address sexuality. It also takes up feminist concerns to some extent but Bergner's focus is sexual satisfaction. She summarizes recent sexology research presenting it in an attractive narrative carried by women's personal voices. It's a fun and accessible read.
The presentation of the science is a little credulous, as there's a lot more room for scepticism than Bergner allows. In particular she tends to view sexology as stripping away culture to reveal nature, which is impossible and naive to suggest. However, her account provides a welcome counterpoint to the influence of evolutionary psychology on our conceptions of sexuality. One chapter deals with that explicitly.
So don't let the narrative approach fool you... This book has a foundation in research findings that people prefer to ignore. The idea that women have broad and persistent sexual appetites threatens our understanding of the social order. It also may help a lot of women realize how very ordinary their desires are.
If you are looking for the sexy counterpart to Elisabeth Lloyd's "The Case of the Female Orgasm" then this is it. Lloyd also decries how evolutionary scientists ignore sexology research. We need not put quite the faith in it that Bergner does, but we can learn a lot from her story about what the research suggests.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A much needed perspective on female sexuality Aug. 26 2013
By Tim Horton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
If you're interested in the same old rehashing of evolutionary psychology, (That is, you think women were, are, and always will be "the monogamous sex") this is not for you.
If you're looking for controversial but scientifically sound ideas (backed by data) that you can almost certainly parallel to your real life, this is the book for you.
The references are all available at the end of the book, so those inclined can pull up the references.

I will be recommending this book to everyone I know. It covers sensitive topics about love, sex, and long-term relationships that people usually don't discuss, but should.
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Debunking myths? June 12 2013
By Ben
The author is far too quick to "debunk the myths of evolutionary psychology." Evolutionary psychology relies on scientific (empirical) methods, peer-reviewed journals and the thinking of many solidly grounded researchers. It does bother those who think that somehow human minds have escaped the pressures of natural and sexual selection (i.e., the blank slate theory suggesting that all behavior is culture-generated), but this does not make the findings of evolutionary psychologists any less valid. I will just warn other readers that the research produced by evolutionary psychology on sex differences should not be dismissed lightly — certainly not on the basis of this misleading book.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing July 5 2013
I read the 2009 article on which this book originated, it had stuck in my head (some women become aroused watching monkeys or gay men having sex) so I thought I'd give the book a try.

To keep it brief, this book is an agenda-driven missive created to advance a personal credo. It's composed largely of extrapolations from baseless suppositions, it's derisive of actual research, hostile to evolutionary psychology, and contains dubious accusations against Christianity that are borderline hatemongering (Dawkins would tell him to cool it).

A stupid, easily refutable book that wasted my time.
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