Wednesday Martin’s Untrue is a book claiming to put the lie to some contemporary cultural myths about women, lust and infidelity. The wisdom I often hear in my counselling practice concerning infidelity goes like this; ‘anything outside of my marriage or intimate partnership is cheating – be it “emotional cheating” such as my spouse texting another woman/man or spending inordinate amounts of time with that person without being physically involved, or “real cheating” involving sex’.
This opinion is not lost on Wednesday Martin PHD, the writer and cultural critic in New York NY who’s latest book, Untrue implores her readers to understand what she says is the preponderance of evidence indicating common American views on female fidelity are wrong. She attests women’s bodies are designed for multiple partners and claims a man’s penis is shaped like a shovel at the tip to better move out of the way any ejaculate left by another male. His last squirt contains spermicide, according to scientific studies cited by Martin, presumably to help kill of the sperm of a rival, and then he is done. Meanwhile the woman is rewarded by nature with multiple orgasms, and why should women have evolved such capability without being able to seek out the rewards their bodies promised? Why indeed?
In Untrue Martin suggests present day Western women, the outliers at least, are beginning to admit they desire sex as much as men. Moreover, she writes, ‘Female biology suggests that women are built for sexual experimentation, for reckless days and heedless nights, putting us in conflict with our current cultural container, to put it mildly.’ Society does not approve, but still the truth is coming out. Regardless of anything else society may think about women who cheat, women who refuse to be monogamous are brave and there is something to be learned from their experiences and possible motivations. Moreover, there are things to be learned about the zeitgeist of sexual politics; observing common reactions to womanly infidelity makes it possible to gauge the extent of present day female autonomy.
The truth about Untrue is controversial to say the least. Women and men, according to the book are hard wired for cheating, perhaps women more than men. ‘Cheating’ apparently occurs in every society ever studied, and women may struggle more than men with sexual exclusivity, in fact, women might be naturally promiscuous. I’ll let Wednesday Martin have the last word; ‘(W)omen who refuse monogamy are not pathological and untreatable and unlike us. They are, rather, versions of our deepest selves, exemplars of autonomy, perhaps even teachers with valuable lessons to impart.’