Faking It

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

In Faking It: The Lies Women Tell about Sex and the Truths They Reveal, Lux Alptraum does
not set out to counter the pervasive cultural idea that women are liars. Instead, she seeks to reveal the elements
of society that make it so difficult for women NOT to lie if they want to succeed (or even just
survive) in a misogynistic culture. So really, the answer to the question “why do women lie?” is
quite simple: patriarchy. What is more complex is what happens when you dig into the elements
of Western culture—American culture more specifically perhaps, but applicable pretty much
anywhere—and reveal how the lies we tell offer a unique look at the experience of being a
woman in the world.

(A longer version of this review is scheduled to appear in the print version of Herizons Magazine (Canada), Spring 2019)
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I thought it would have small chapters of real women talking about their own unique actual sexual experience. 
- Instead this turned out to be a long dissertation, with the author hell-bent on proving her thesis: that 'women are not liars' and 'even when they are, it's not their fault, they just feel intimidated by men.'
- The author believes women are considered as liars in American culture & starts with that.
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One of the best books I've read in a long time. 

Sure, that sounds like hyperbole. Keep in mind I read over 20 books a week, on average. So unlike this book's premise - the lies surrounding sex for and about women - I have zero need to overemphasize or minimize my truth. 

Upon opening the book and choosing a random chapter to start with (as I usually do with nonfiction books I'm reviewing), I felt sucked in. An hour later and a lot of head nodding in understanding, it took an alarm to stop my voraciousness. 

That's right, I consumed this book like a piece of chocolate after years of abstinence, or fantastic sex with a stranger after years of celibacy.

Oh, wait. As a woman, can I admit that publicly? Should I? Why would I? 

If I identified as male, they'd celebrate me. If I identified as female, what does that say about me? 

Your answer, whatever it is, instinctive or moral, angry or self-righteous, something completely different - is the premise of this book.

Why do women lie about their sexual partners, sexual experiences, and sexual awareness? Why is it that a woman needs to be experienced in bed, but not too experienced? Where should she learn if not with a partner? What if a woman decides she wants to date women after having dated only men prior? What commentary will she face about her choices? Where will she find community? 

Unfortunately, the answers aren't great, clear or even happily ever after. "Faking It" brings light to all these questions, and attempts to answer them. I say attempt, because, there's no way to determine why certain cultural expectations and 'requirements' become the norm. Still, Alptraum does their best, and with a bevvy of women just like me and you: famous and every day, virginal and sex workers, experienced and naïve. 

I've yet to finish this book. That's my only caveat. Perhaps I've missed some deep dark secret that will turn me off, or otherwise forgo this glowing review. But, for now, it's all that I hoped it would be, and I didn't need to fake it for a second.
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I found Faking It to be a eye opening book. It was rather amusing to read this book, using personal experiences gave the book a wonderful touch.
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Basic thesis: “while a number of honorable women have been unfairly slandered as dishonest, it’s the lies that many, if not most, of us are telling on a daily basis that offer the greater insight into the female experience. We lie because it makes our day-to-day lives easier; we lie to keep ourselves safe; we lie because no one believes us when we tell the truth. But most of all, we lie because the world expects us to live up to an impossible standard—and frequently, lying is the only way to get through life with our sanity intact.” Alptraum covers faking orgasm (or faking understanding why orgasm is a big deal), lies about virginity (or lack thereof), lies about sexual interest, lies about having a boyfriend, makeup as “lying,” and lies about contraception, with a coda on lies about rape (adults who lie usually have otherwise disordered lives and report a stranger rape, while juveniles are more likely to lie to avoid parental condemnation). “When women are assumed to be unable, or unwilling, to overtly communicate desire, men treat everything as a covert expression of desire, a secret code that they and they alone have the power to decipher.” Along the way, she argues for acknowledging the struggles and realities of all kinds of women—those who can and can’t orgasm through vaginal penetration alone, those who lie and use long-term contraception as a form of harm reduction because they’re in abusive relationships, those who lie and don’t use contraception because they want to control their own reproductive futures, those who are willing to have not-fantastic sex for other goals, those who want casual sex and those who don’t. Even so, she recognizes, some of these lies end up contributing to toxic myths, and others just don’t encourage (mostly) men to do any better. I’m not sure I learned a lot, but it was a saddening juxtaposition of different types of lies, often because women haven’t been asked for their truths. In comparison, she points out, men who pressure and deceive to get sex—or lie and remove the condom they agreed to wear—don’t see themselves as untrustworthy, but as doing what is only natural and commendable. Ultimately, as she quotes one of her sources, “[w]e don’t need empowerment messages; we need power,” and a lie is, “in a sense, an attempt to claim power, and as a short-term strategy it can be a fairly successful one.”
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Wow!! I went into this not really knowing what to expect but very moving. The author is very smart and the discussion is very engaging.
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