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Brooke Magnanti wants to expose the truths behind the sex myths which provoke outraged newspaper headlines and panicked public policy. Lindsey Sheehan considers Magnanti’s opinions on all things controversial, from lap-dancing to online pornography

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In the first book published under her real name, Brooke Magnanti – better known as Belle de Jour – has taken on a topic often delicate, often controversial, but clearly close to her heart. The title apes Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, but Magnanti actually targets nine specific myths in her laser sights and obliterates them using a combination of statistics and carefully backed up analysis.

I admit that when I first started reading I wasn’t sure I’d be on board; it’s difficult to accept that I could have been taken in by so much media bumf. In some of the early chapters I was unconvinced by the points made: for example, the idea that women make more successful strippers simply because they can fake arousal more easily. There has long been a cultural bias towards viewing women as attractive, decorative objects while men are participants in activity (such as looking, lusting, and masturbating); if it was only floppy penises that stood in the way of a successful male stripping industry then surely Viagra would have solved that problem?

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