Archive for October 18th, 2018

In her new book, Wednesday Martin reminds us how damaging cultural narratives concerning female sexuality have been.

ith some exceptions, gender constructs have served men well in the modern world. It’s landed them in more high-powered positions. It’s gotten them higher wages. And, yeah, it’s given them license to pursue sex in ways that would lead women to be ostracized or shamed. In her new book Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women Lust and Adultery is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, author Wednesday Martin digs into the damage incurred through this “boys will be boys” mentality. And she blows a whistle on the many biases that have boxed their female counterparts into such sexually constrained identities.

Fatherly spoke to Martin about what authentic sexuality looks like on women and how men can help them find their own special shade.

A lot of Untrue is about adultery. Why was it important for you to look into how women function in relationship to non-monogamy?

Infidelity is really a great test case for how we actually feel about gender parity. We have people who believe women should make the same amount men do. We have people who believe that women should hold political office. But how do they feel when women seize a privilege that has historically belonged to men, the privilege of not being monogamous? We don’t have any autonomy if we don’t have the autonomy to do what we want with our bodies.

This book really looks at how science and social science has conspired to put out a narrative that keeps women from attaining sexual autonomy. We think it’s physical violence, coercion, and slut-shaming that keep women in their place within this culture, but it’s also bad science and bad social science. So much of it has been abused to coerce women into monogamy and to discourage us from being sexually autonomous.

How does that message relate to the current cultural climate? How does it relate to the ways in which women are now asserting their sexual autonomy?

In terms of the #MeToo movement, well I feel like bad science brought us to this moment. There’s been inaccurate science that posits that men are naturally sexually aggressive and that the male sexual coercion of females is natural. There’s a lot of more recent science that tells us that’s not true. I think a lot of that bad, biased science helped bring our culture to a point of crisis.

What are some other misconceptions surrounding female sexual identity and desire?

There is some research to suggest that the institutionalization of a relationship, whether it’s marriage or moving in together, dampens female sexual desire even more than male desire. There are studies that document women talking marriage and long-term partnership as anaphrodisiacs, as something that dampens sexual desire. They talk about familiarity and security killing their libidos. Men need to understand this about the women that they’re with. These women need sexual adventure just as much as men do.

Okay. That’s probably going to unnerve or surprise some guys out there. And maybe that’s indicative of the issue. Why do you think so many women have a hard time coming out about their genuine attitude towards polyamory and other nonconforming sexual behaviors?

You pay a high price for being honest about your sexual desires in this culture. Everything from slut-shaming to lethal violence to someone just thinking that you’re weird. Women who do step out face a lot of danger. In this country, so many mass shootings involve men trying to control women who have left them. And a lot of the triggers don’t even involve infidelity, but the suspicionof infidelity. It’s still really dangerous for women to exercise that really basic form of autonomy within the U.S.

How can men help women feel safe speaking about their desires?

I think men need to educate themselves. They need to understand the female erectile network, the extensiveness of the clitoris, the possibility of multiple orgasms, the fact that we have no refractory period. This all seems to suggest, to me, that women really evolved for sexual pleasure and serial sexual pleasure.

What about guys in monogamous relationships with wives who are not likely to be experiencing serial sexual pleasure any time soon? How can they help their partners enjoy a more diverse sex life?

I wrote the book to be a conversation starter between women and their partners. Men should know that some women really struggle with monogamy. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to go invite a “third” into the bedroom as a way to attain novelty. But it should encourage men to step up their game. Buy her a sex toy. Talk about sexual fantasies. Watch porn together. Go on adventures that have nothing to do with sex. Go on a zip line. Learn to tango. Take a trip. Remember, adrenaline can deliver a similar feeling to what sexual novelty gives us. These are all options if you don’t want to see out adventure by way of consensual non-monogamy.

What about men with daughters? How can they impart healthier sexual attitudes?

It would be extremely helpful to start educating kids about female sexual pleasure at home. It’s important we teach them that women are more than an extension of male desire. Girls are more than precious little things who have to protect themselves from the boys. They are thinking, feeling people who have an amazingly evolved sexual anatomy with an extremely high capacity for pleasure. This is really basic information that kids aren’t getting in school.


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If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, check out what the experts say about why it’s important to pay attention to what you eat

Diet matters

Veggie Bowl over Coconut Quinoa








Megan Betteridge/Shutterstock

In a 2002 study, researchers found that an estimated one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to diet. But conversely, “Good nutrition may reduce the incidence of breast cancer and the risk of breast cancer progression or recurrence,” wrote Natalie Ledesma, RD, in Women’s Health Matters, a publication from the University of California, San Francisco. Research published in Nutrition Reviews found that the foods you eat—and, importantly, the things you avoid—can dramatically reduce the risk of cancer returning. In this review of studies on diet and cancer recurrence, the researchers found that a generally healthy diet could lower future cancer risk by about 25 percent; following a high-sugar, high-fat Western-style diet nearly doubled the risk of return. Alcohol didn’t help either: The more people drank, the higher their risk of recurrence.

Ledesma, an oncology dietitian at the Cancer Resource Center at UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, identifies two major types of diets as optimal: a plant-based diet and the Mediterranean diet. Many experts agree that some of the same eating habits that help prevent cancer can also help halt its progression and stop it from recurring in patients.

Don’t focus on nutrients

Balanced diet food background. Organic food for healthy nutrition. Ingredients for cooking. Top view stone table.









Just remember that studying human nutrition is tricky, and experts caution that the science is still inconclusive about which specific nutrients or foods are involved when it comes to fighting cancer—if any. “It’s really more about looking at the whole diet rather than any specific nutrient,” says Mia Gaudet, PhD, scientific director of epidemiology research for the American Cancer Society. “Most nutrients aren’t available naturally in isolation. Eating a variety of foods will get you the widest range of nutrients possible.”

Orange vegetables and fruit









Luke SW/Shutterstock

You may know that carotenoids are the compounds that give carrots and other orange foods their color. They’re also potent antioxidants that have strong anticancer properties. You’ll find them in lots of fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, pumpkin), which may help explain why plant-based diets tend to be linked to lower rates of cancer. “In studies, people who ate the most vegetables had the lowest risk of estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer,” says Susan Brown, RN, senior director of education and patient support at Susan G. Komen. Just note that the research suggests that veggies have a stronger effect than fruits, so focus your efforts on orange and yellow vegetables for best results.

Whole grains can help

Wooden table full of fiber-rich whole foods, perfect for a balanced diet










The popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets has made grains an endangered species in the American diet. The fear surrounding gluten hasn’t helped. Whole grains are an important source of cancer-fighting nutrients, including fiber.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fiber fights cancer,” says Robert Segal, MD, founder of Medical Offices of Manhattan. “In populations that have high-fiber diets, colon, stomach, and breast cancers are a lot less common.” And they’re less likely to reoccur when people get plenty from their diet, he says.

It may have something to do with the way fiber alters the effect of hormones like estrogen—which is linked to some types of cancer. Fiber can also bind with certain carcinogenic compounds and help move them out of the body. Most Americans get only a fraction of the 40 grams of fiber they need daily, averaging between 10 and 20 grams a day. Whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa are a great way to reach that quota.

Beans do a body good

collection set of beans, legumes, peas, lentils on ceramic bowl on white wooden background








Amawasri Pakdara/Shutterstock

Beans are another great source of dietary fiber—plus, they’re rich in antioxidants and protein, which makes them a healthy, low-fat alternative to meat. Research has found that people who eat a lot of meat have a higher risk of developing cancer; subbing in plant-based protein sources like beans may help slash your risk. One 2005 study found that women whose diets included eating beans and lentils at least twice a week had a 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them less than once a month.

olive oil








DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock

Eating too much fat can boost the presence of hormones that elevate some cancer risks, such as breast, Dr. Segal warns. But recent research suggests that healthier types of fats, specifically the monounsaturated kind found in olive oil and other foods, may have a slight protective effect against a variety of cancers. It’s no secret that olives are a staple of Mediterranean cooking, which may be why those countries have cancer rates significantly lower than those in the United States.

Soy could slash your riskSoy bean, tofu and other soy productsnaito29/Shutterstock








There has been some debate over soy’s role in cancer prevention and recurrence, mostly because it contains compounds known as phytoestrogens, which mimic human hormones that seem to raise risk. If any risk exists—and there’s plenty of argument against that idea—it’s from concentrated soy proteins (in supplements) or heavily processed soy fillers that turn up in junk food, according to the Mayo Clinic. There is some research suggesting that diets rich in whole soy foods may have a protective effect—particularly against breast cancer. Look for the least processed forms of soy—edamame, tofu, soy milk, miso.


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