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Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia… (2009)

de Thomas Maier

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Follows the career of the famous sex research couple who used their own relationship to gain the confidence of subjects for their studies and to convince readers of their expertise.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier was a compelling read. Masters and Johnson made several contributions to the study of human sexology but they also concluded some things that were not accurate. The box is compelling. One feels bad often for Ginny Johnson and Dr. Masters comes off as more of a tyrant, work alcoholic and not so successful in matters of love and sex. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Dec 8, 2014 |
A really interesting picture of women's changing roles in science and America in the later half of the 20th century. The book is definitely more sympathetic toward Ginny. ( )
  Bodagirl | Jun 4, 2014 |
I got this because I have so enjoyed Masters of Sex on Showtime. I also have worked for many years in HIV and STD prevention in public health, so Masters and Johnson's work is in my wheelhouse as well as a clear popular influence during my adolescence and young adult years. (I was a graduate student when Masters and Johnson published Crisis.)

I have to say that I rate this around a 3.5. I gave it 4 because it is well written and engaging, but for content it deserves something closer to a 3.

I am struck my the disparities in the biographies of Johnson and Masters. The first sexual experiences of Masters are not detailed, nor is the emphasis quite as resolutely focused on relationships for Masters as for Johnson. Some of this may be because the author was able to interview Johnson and worked only posthumously with materials left by Masters. I was struck by how little rounded the portrait of Johnson was (especially in the early days) aside from her relationships with men.

I didn't think that Maier did much to put Johnson, specifically, into context as a female clinician (already marginalized in her time), in a marginalized field. My mother, a married sociology graduate student around the same time, was forbidden to teach when she was pregnant as this was considered inappropriate for university students to see. Female students and clinicians were not common, were often not well supported and not provided with the mentorship and opportunities afforded to their male counterparts; and husband and wife teams were not uncommon in academia in that time where men had the credentials and women put in enormous amounts of labor without the credentials or credibility of their husbands. Theirs is an amazing story of the rise of famous and influential clinicians, but not an uncommon scientific partnership for the era.

I was also disturbed by Maier's apology for Crisis, which in fact did not prove out its main arguments. The driving force in HIV in the US and in most developed countries has not been a general heterosexual epidemic, and the "support" that Maier provides for this out of context and inaccurate. We do not need to further misunderstandings about HIV transmissions. Indeed, Maier appears to limit himself to popular accounts and sources and does little to put the biography into a scientific or clinical context. In some ways this is understandable because Masters and Johnson had enormous popular influence, and in other ways, it provides a shallow look into their work.

Still, in spite of all the complaining above, I found Masters of Sex to be well written and engaging. The conflicts between celebrity, fame, nepotism, science and good clinical work were clearly drawn, as well as a lack of "business" vision that doomed Masters and Johnson's clinic to ultimate failure. The relationship between Masters and Johnson was fascinating; regardless of how much love and affection there was between them, it was a true symbiotic partnership that transcended their marriage. ( )
  leduck | Dec 30, 2013 |
This is one case in which the TV series must be an improvement on the book, at least if you are interested in the scientific advancements and how Masters & Johnson reached them. Maier isn't a science writer. Well, perhaps you say: the achievements are so well known and this is “the life and times” after all. I’d disagree with the first part: what may have been widely known about them in 1970 isn’t true now.

Furthermore, there’s not too much to say about the couple. Maier pretty quickly brings them to St. Louis and the start of the clinic. Masters was a cold, philandering fish emotionally but he did give enormous public credit to the un-degreed Johnson. In fact, that’s probably why he insisted that their occasional extra-marital affair (on his part) be turned into marriage to secure her cooperation in their partnership.

Yet while we are told again and again (and again) that Johnson’s warmth and insights for invaluable to the research, I’ll be damned if he gave any specifics. Perhaps because he is loath to get into the nitty gritty of the scientific process. If Maier were really a journalist, wouldn’t he be asking/looking for, “Is there an example of that?” (Either from Johnson herself , interviews with associates or case studies mentioned in the books; very late in the game, we learn Johnson destroyed all the films and tapes of actual patients).

For example, so Masters started by filming solo masturbators, Viriginia joined the clinic and they worked up to couples (not sure about homosexual ones). Despite the 10,000s of couplings filmed … we never learn if the couples were given advice or suggestions. Were they told to perform certain acts, do more foreplay, etc? How was research advanced? What were Virginia’s contributions?

Given the seminal first book only mentioned “fellatio” once, I’m kind of doubtful about cunnilingus. With those masks on, there was no kissing? How were bc and STDs handled? The major revelation of that first book appears to have been the physiological mechanics of orgasms.

Then we move onto the next book dealing with couples with intimacy problems and their treatment with gradual “sensate touching.” Now, this is the standard treatment today (perhaps modified? How?), so very significant. But how did they get here from the initial research, films, etc. ? Nothing! Then, with fame, people with all sorts of problems, including fetishes, start coming to the clinic. Including a man that preferred sex with his dog to his wife. OK: so how were fetishes and bestiality treated? Nothing! (Not to mention the scant attention to ethical issues). Now we know that fetishes are primarily a male thing and apparently impossible to eradicate. Maybe M & J are the ones that discovered this but you’ll never find out from this book.

I have blathered in considerable detail in my notes re the lack of follow-up re licensing of therapists, fetishes, surrogates, federal funding and Master's possible fabrication of homosexual interviews and data but ...
All in all, a disappointing and frustrating read. And the selected references are so skimpy and overloaded with contemporary journalism that you shouldn't look to them to answer any of the glaring questions this book doesn't even scratch. ( )
1 vote Periodista | Oct 22, 2013 |
Aside from my difficulty finding the book at B&N and having to ask a teenaged boy clerk for "Masters of Sex," this was a really smooth read. I grew up in St. Louis and, until reading this book, had no idea Masters & Johnson were as influential as Thomas Maier illustrates. Back in the 70's, all I knew about sex was what I learned from game shows--my carnal knowledge was filtered through Gene Rayburn and Paul Lynde. Scary thought. I wish I'd known then such history was being made just down the road from my house. I REALLY wish I'd have known Barbara Eden was five minutes away getting treatment for sexual dysfunction in her own marriage, while I sat at home watching "I Dream of Jeannie" reruns on KPLR-TV...Talk about opportunity lost. Amazingly, Washington University, where this duo did most of their groundbreaking sex research, is so blinded by its efforts to be thought of as proper Ivy League-calliber, it fails to offer any recognition whatsoever to Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson. Today I went in search of Masters & Johnson's St. Louis and found very little left: Their famous private sex cliic on Forest Park Avenue has been razed and is now part of the Siteman Cancer Center. They do have a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, not far from Phyllis Diller and Yogi Berra, for whatever that's worth. These days the author says, Virginia Johnson is intensely private, seemingly bitter and a recluse, of sorts, in a St. Louis nursing home. She has changed her name and apparently wants nothing to do with her past life as a world renowned sex researcher. I'd love to find her and visit often. After all, anyone who has witnessed 10,000 orgasms HAS to have some interesting stories to share. "Now tell me Virginia....tell me about #9,347. What was that one like?" ( )
1 vote Voxpopuleye | Mar 5, 2011 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Maier offers an intimate, engaging look at a couple who helped free lovers from repression, suppression and Freudian myth and helped bring what was most human about us into the light.
adicionado por Shortride | editarPlayboy (May 5, 2009)
 
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Follows the career of the famous sex research couple who used their own relationship to gain the confidence of subjects for their studies and to convince readers of their expertise.

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