Sunday, 26 January 2014

Masters Of Sex by Thomas Maier

"As Bill Masters read further in the library, he realised the field of obstetrics and gynaecology had a peculiar aversion to matters of sex, as if doctors preferred only the happy outcome of babies being born, rather than the more indelicate matters leading to their arrival."

Having enjoyed the recent TV series, I was rather interested to learn more of this extraordinary couple who pushed the envelope in terms of research into subjects that were far from the usual reach of medical doctrine. While certainly easy to read, the book, as you might guess from the quote above, often comes across as rather quaint. I imagine there would be a huge challenge between relating the tale and offering the book up as a serious discussion rather than an opportunity for titillation ( territory the TV series quite entertainingly veers into often).

The book seems to focus more on Virginia, and I think this is in some measure to redress the gender balance and highlight how amazing her actions and accomplishments were for the time in which she lived. The show focuses more on the human relationships side, while the book attempts to bridge the gap between the personal and professional, discussing the ups and downs of the pair's research and private lives.

As a look back in history, it is particularly amazing to realise the change this couple were able to make on public perception. Their ability to enliven couples to the possibility that their issues in the bedroom were not beyond help, must have been a welcome relief to many a frustrated and stressed pair. It appears not all their research was "on the money" (actually that is probably not the best adjective to use), however, their trailblazing studies have definitely changed the understanding of sex beyond the perfunctory impetus to procreate. It is hard to imagine (perhaps I should say difficult) what magazines like Cleo and Cosmo would possibly have on their covers today to discuss had the Masters not come along.

 4 out of 5 masters of their own domain.

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