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Wednesday Martin is immaculately dressed in a white skirt suit, heels — and a slim, metallic travel-vibrator necklace.
It’s “just a bit of fun,” the 52-year-old author tells The Post.
Less discreet is the clitoris-shaped chunk of neon-pink plastic she is handling with her manicured nails. It’s a gift she’s handed out to advance readers of her latest book: “Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe About Women, Lust and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free” (Little, Brown Spark).
“Since even some medical texts still describe the clitoris as pea-shaped and pea-sized, a visual model of the actual vast internal clitoris has a big impact,” says Martin. She first made literary waves in 2015 with the release of her controversial best seller “Primates of Park Avenue,” which examined the social mores of wealthy women on the Upper East Side and was criticized for factual inaccuracies.
Three years later, the married mother of four has shifted her focus — and is reshaping herself into an anthropological sex guru for American women, a sort of Dr. Ruth meets Jane Goodall. Her risqué props are part of her campaign to overturn conventional thinking about women’s sexuality and the cultural constraints which surround it.
“I’m trying to give women permission, through data and opinions of experts I’ve interviewed, to feel less weird about their urges, fantasies and desire to be sexually adventurous,” says Martin, whose fascination with the likes of Marlene Dietrich and other provocative “women we love to hate” inspired her to write the book. “ ‘Untrue’ gives [women] a hall pass. It gives them permission not to step out or cheat, but to feel more comfortable in their skin, sexually speaking.”
Citing extensive research in the fields of sociology, primatology and anthropology, Martin builds the case that women are not “too-tired-tonight,” low-libido’d monogamy maniacs, but beings who are as innately pleasure-seeking as men. “I look forward to the day when a wife makes a mistake in her marriage [just like men do] and people say: ‘What did you expect? That’s how women are.’ ”
That’s not to say that she thinks all women are unsatisfied with a single partner. It’s OK to “really love monogamy,” she says. “For some women, it’s a really comfortable and rewarding place to be.”
But that’s not the case for the many anonymous case studies in Martin’s book — women across the country who fail to fit the preconceived notion of a faithful spouse. And while “Untrue” goes geographically farther afield than “Primates,” some of her splashiest on-the-ground research delves into sex in the five boroughs.
In one chapter, she focuses on a professional Manhattan-based “throuple,” in which the husband and wife and their kids live with the wife’s other male sexual partner. “The neighbors refer to Tim, Lily and Rick as ‘those orgy people,’ ” she laughs. She explains that many people would assume that a man would be the driving force behind a polyamorous relationship. But here, it’s “Lily” who decides on the schedule for the sleeping arrangements.
It’s a real-life example of one of Martin’s key points: That “it’s untrue that women are [evolutionarily programmed to be] less sexually adventurous than men,” she says. “It’s only yesterday — 10,000 years ago in evolutionary terms — that we started being monogamous and sexually exclusive.” While the conventional narrative holds that men have a primal drive to spread their genetic material to as many women as possible, she says research suggests that women would also seek multiple partners because “it allowed them to hedge against a male who was sterile and to scrutinize who had healthier sperm.”
But it’s not all about reproduction — it’s about pleasure, too. That’s why Martin spent a night at an NYC outpost of Skirt Club, an international organization that hosts so-called “play parties” for well-heeled metropolitan women. Describing one such night that she attended in downtown Manhattan, she writes about how salt, lime and tequila were licked off the naked bodies of guests while eight women on a bed together had “sex in every possible configuration.”
One of the attendees, Martin writes, was a wife who had been married for 20 years to a man. She had never had sex with a woman before. “This party helped me find myself,” the delighted guest told her.
Martin had to do a bit of soul searching herself before she started writing the book. When she brought the idea up to her husband, banker Joel Moser, he nonchalantly said, “You should have an affair if you need to, for research for your book.” She writes that she promptly dismissed his proposal: “If you’re fishing for permission yourself, you don’t have it.”
While she laughs off any suggestion that she might have strayed in her marriage in the interests of analysis, she says she does share her subjects’ need for variety and novelty in a relationship.
“There is research about couples that do exciting activities, such as skydiving, et cetera, and it gives them a rush of hormones,” she says. “They see each other in a new way, and feel a new sense of sexual desire for them.” She suggests techniques such as watching porn or reading erotic literature together to keep things interesting.
Above all, she wants women to stop feeling ashamed of their appetites and impulses, whatever they are.
“We have to get women to the point where they are not feeling guilty if they don’t always want to be staring into their partner’s eyes as a soulful connection,” adds Martin, twirling her vibrator necklace. “Sometimes women just wanna have sex.”
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