This reviewer is in the unique position of being married over forty years to a woman who, certifiably never lied about the state of our activities. Anywhere, let alone in the bedroom. So I was naturally intrigued by the subject of faking the big O. No, there will be no disclosures here. But, I bravely read on and was rewarded with greatly expanded knowledge about the sexual world, one in which women are particularly burdened with expectations and concomitant risks.

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On the face of it, Faking It leads one to expect an amusing trifle: one that has intrigued generations of men who are sensitive about their ability to deliver the goods each and every time. But, for as many, or more generations of women, faking it, or more precisely, lying about it can be a way to merely short circuit a bad experience, or even be a punishment saving device in the case of anticipated abuse.

Until recently, women have been disadvantaged and overwhelmed by the male establishment and, even though there has been an evening of that balance of late there is a loooong way to go, as evidenced by the recent Kavanaugh hearing where the establishment men ignored the testimony of three women to his, o.k. alleged, transgressions. One way this book may have helped in the hearings is the revelation that women who lie about rape have an established profile, much as serial killers have, and that none of his accusers fit.

Even though orgasm is the holy grail of sexual experience, it’s poorly understood. Masters and Johnson tried and found that the female orgasm closely resembled the male variety. Well, maybe not so much. The author reveals that many women don’t actually know whether they’ve had an orgasm. The subject is clarified with useful information that is quite different from the lurid details in the ‘ladies’ popular literature yet not boring or dry.

Much of the book deals with the trials and considerations of dating in this modern world and the place sex occupies in it. All relationships are different: There’s an infinite variation of sexual inclinations from gay to straight, situations from amusing to risky and all manner of public attitudes about them that are enough to make your head swim. Are you to be shamed or admired for your chosen role?

A quote from chapter eight pretty well sums it up: “In our fixation on female dishonesty, we tend to focus on what these lies tell us about women, rather than what these lies tell us about society”.

A fine book which enhances everyone’s, female and male, understanding. Faking It will surely help anyone who desires a relationship or has questions about where to go with the relationship they’re in.

For anyone interested in this and allied subject matter, I recommend Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids, by Bonnie J. Rough.  Also reviewed in Portland Book Review.

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