Feminst cultural critic, #1 New York Times bestselling author, co-host of the True Sex Wild Love podcast and social researcher Wednesday Martin Ph.D has written extensively on topics including gender, parenting and motherhood. But she’s especially known to Skirt Club for her expertise on women’s sexuality, which she discusses at length in her latest book ‘Untrue’.

Wednesday even dedicated a whole chapter in her book to women who attend Skirt Club parties and having joined a signature party in London to mark the London launch of her book and our recent International Women’s Day Celebration in New York, we count her as one of our all time favourite collaborators.

Here, Wednesday shares her no-holds barred views on everything from bonobo monkeys and male scientists to consensual non monogamy and Costa Rican spiders with giant clits!

Wedesday, for the uninitiated - you've written incredible best selling books highlighting the deepest darkest secrets about women's sexuality and appetite, an area of work virtually ignored by male scientists for hundreds of years. Have they woken up yet? Are they listening?!

Thanks to #metoo and social media (which was a great ecology for sex positive activism before regulations restricted expression there), there really has been a meaningful shift in the last decade to half decade, in my view, in how we write and think and talk about sexuality in general, and about female sexuality more specifically. I think my most important work as a social researcher and cultural critcic is to help people understand: "Hey, there's  this whole newish body of science about  sex out there now. And not only does  it correct previous bias in the data-it  turns everything we've been taught about  who women  are sexually upside down!" 

"We now know that heterosexual women struggle with monogamy  sooner and more than hetero men do in a long term relationship, for example. We know that lesbians have more orgasms than bisexual or straight women-because they're not just having intercourse. We know that, when  measured correctly, the  male  libido  is not "stronger" than the female libido. All this data can improve  not just  our sex lives, but our lives."

My mission is to get it into people's hands to set them free--from shame, guilt, or the sense that they are sexually "broken" or "weird"--and give them AHA! moments about themselves. As with any time there is new, potentially life-altering information out there that challenges the status quo, there is a lot of resistance in our culture to the idea that we have misrepresented both women and men sexually speaking. But I always focus on the impressive researchers committed to correcting confirmation bias in science, and the people who get in touch to say, "This information changed my life!"

Your interview with Dr Amy Parish on your True Sex Wild Love Podcast was brilliant and it's interesting to hear about Amy's work with bonobos and the picture she paints of a very amorous, matriarchal species. It will also be news to many of us that Bonobos are able to penetrate one another with their clitoris'. Why don't bonobos get any air time? Have we been shortchanged as a culture because of the fixation with chimps!? 

The chimp narrative of human evolution has dominated our way of thinking about ourselves as a species for decades. Chimps are a male dominant species in the contexts where they've most often been studied. Males eat first, get groomed more, sexually coerce females and commit other acts of violence against them, and commit infanticide. However, there is new emerging evidence, summarized recently by primatologists Michelle Bezanson and Allison MacNamara, that there are context where chimps are more egalitarian. And we know that among bonobos, females dominate males, who rarely dare to lift a hand against them. If they do, they get a hard lesson. Dr. Parish found that over 90% of serious injuries among bonobos under human care were from female on male violence.

On more than one occasion, female bonobos have been seen sexually coercing males. Bonobos are an important part of the arc of humanness, as important, certainly, as chimps. We're happy to read about how bonobos have lots of sex and dispel tension with sexual interactions. But as a culture, we're more uncomfortable with the idea that a clearly female dominant species is part of our human lineages. It challenges the very fabric of our everyday lives to consider that females being large and in charge is as natural as males being the big bosses.

How did you first hear about Skirt Club?  

My husband saw an article about Skirt Club back in 2016 or so and showed it to me. Let's hear it for male allies! I found the idea so hot and appealing, but I was afraid I wouldn't make the cut so I just filed it away as one of those dreams. Then I interviewed and became friends with the incredible Bryony Cole who said, "We're GOING!" I was VERY nervous to go to my first Skirt Club party, but Gen was so gracious and the party was so fabulous that I soon got over it. I quickly learned that Skirt Club is a living laboratory for the data about the female libido--that without constraint, it is adventurous, assertive, and strong.

You brought your mini model of the clitoris to our Skirt Club party (and UNTRUE launch) in London. Were you surprised that two thirds of the room didn't recognise what it was? Can you tell us about your experience with Skirt Club as part of your research?

I am a big fan of Skirt Club! Particularly the way it has recently become, to my eye, more diverse and inclusive and is speaking to the sexual curiosity and adventurousness that all women share when they are freed from constraint including stigma and the threat of violence. The big difference between Skirt Club London and Skirt Club New York upon first impression was the drinking. The Brits love their drink!

"Anyone who  thinks Brits are more "uptight"  than Americans about  sex has never been to Skirt Club, London edition."

Also I am always impressed by the range of women at the parties. At the UK party, for example, I spoke to women who were doctors, social workers, stay at home moms, entrepreneurs, and more. About that 3D model of the human female clitoris--I love sharing this life-altering information or letting the women in the room who already know about it share the information with others in the room. In my heart I am a geek and a teacher and teaching people about the clitoris is one of the greatest privileges I can imagine. By the way, have your person go at your clit perpendicularly, and lift the leg closest to their head or both of them. That way they have more access to the parts that arouse you and get you off.

You mention in UNTRUE about your gay friends years ago giving advice on opening up relationships and how cis couples are increasingly moving into this territory. What are the implications of this do you think - will open relationships become old news one day? As attitudes change, do you think there is still a place for 'discreet' members clubs like Skirt Club and underground Poly communities?

Through the lens of anthropology, we will always want to be part of a community. For some of us that might mean a church; for others, a recurring sex party. And for some people, both. Sex parties aren't going away. They'll just have to all up their game if we continue on the road to more tolerance and healthy entitlement about getting the sex we enjoy. AND: Being open just wasn't part of the vocabulary for straight cis people back when I was in my twenties, trying to deal with the common condundrum so many women face--my desires being so out of synch with what was allowed.

Now there is a biggish cultural conversation about monogamy and non-monogamy. I see some people who identify as socially conservative reacting to consensual non monogamy like Trump supporters react to social change. They perceive that they are "victims" and that, just by being ourselves and refusing to be quiet about it, we are coming after their "right " to be monogamously married. Please. Women have been forced into the straight jacket of monogamy for ten thousand years now. This current reckoning, like what happened with second wave feminists demanding sexual liberation in the 70s, was a long time coming, and is long overdue.

There seems to be distinct generational differences in sexual attitudes from some of our younger members and older members in SC (and elsewhere) who perhaps remember the ramifications of legislation like Section 28 in the UK. But for women over the age of 30 who are caught between a younger generation and their Mum & Dad's generation, what advice would you give in terms of going after what you want, renegotiating your boundaries or getting the relationship you want? Because if you go on those Redd.it relationship advice threads, the advice is always 'dump him!' 99% of the time. Are men cancelled?!  

I hope men are not cancelled. I love dick! Here's the thing: in the US in particular, where like normal women everywhere, women lose desire for a long-term partner with whom they are cohabiting in years 1 - 4 on average, the only real solution available to the majority of these women is to cheat or get a divorce. How about we get good data in people's hands so they understand that women are wired to need sexual variety, novelty, and adventure every bit as much as men are, if not more? THEN people can start having the conversations they are entitled to have. Rather than presuming that any one relationship style is healthy and "right"--we can talk about what we want, and how to get it. Maybe that sticks. Maybe we change our minds later. But we ask for what we want unless that is unsafe. That's my advice for women of all ages.

"Do  NOT be shut down from having a conversation about what might be the most important aspect  of your autonomy-whether you want  to  be monogamous or not."

If you want monogamy, say it and feel entitled to it. If you don't want monogamy, say it and feel entitled to it. Even if it means  you  and  your person are incompatible. It's a conversation SO worth having, because without sexual  autonomy,  the most basic and personal form of freedom, there is no autonomy. 

Most people still go into relationships without having this conversation. HAVE IT if it feels safe to you. We have to remember that for so many women, "cheating" or asking for non-monogamy can be lethal. It speaks to the strength of the female libido that women continue to take tremendous risks for their sexual and personal satisfaction.

Of all the common responses people have to your work and your books, what's the most common reaction?

"OMG THIS IS ME! Your book made me cry. Thank you for showing me science and social science that proves I am not a freak and I am not broken." I live for that.

What's been the strangest situation you've found yourself in as part of your work so far? 

Being in a rainforest in Costa Rica looking for spider monkeys. The female spider monkey has a huge, pendulous  clit  that  looks like a penis,  it  hands down  so far. I  just had  to  see  it  with  my own eyes so my  friends Michelle Benzanson  and Allison MacNamara let me come to their fieldsite. I wrote an amazon original  story about it  called The Button.

Your podcast collab with Whitney Miller is a great listen. Who's been your favourite guest so far? 

All our guests are SO GOOD. For me personally, it's Latham Thomas, for her passionate commitment to fixing the black maternal health crisis, Michele Hope who brings together anti-racism and sex positivity with such passion, and Amy Parish because bonobos and primatology

What's next for you, Wednesday? Any more books on the horizon? 

I have switched to fiction and am writing a series of sexually explicit novels about a single female character over time. My mission is to write sex scenes based on the data about what really turns women on, and to develop a character who speaks to women's natural desire for power, acknowlegement, autonomy, and sexual satisfaction.

If women do ONE thing this year to improve their sex lives/sexual wellbeing, what should it be? 

Tell yourself every day, "Great fun sex the way I like it is my RIGHT and my pleasure and my priority" Sexual pleasure is an integral part of your health, so start feeling entitled about it! Sexual pleasure is like brushing your teeth--a basic part of health-- only it feels better.

Who are your biggest role models and icons? We’d love any recommendations or advice on resources for our members looking to enhance their knowledge in this area.

My biggest role models growing up  were  Jane Goodall and  Gloria  Steinem. As for resources, I always loved Our Bodies  Ourselves for the mashup of  science and empowerment. Of course my book UNTRUE is a great resource--I distill and analyze the most recent data about female sexuality from medicine, field science, anthropology, and more, and share women's personal stories about being non-monogamous. On IG I am really into @afrosexology for the accessible, informative and inclusive posts and @hoegivesnofucks for showing women as we sometimes really are--libidinous, selfish, and occasional trainwrecks when it comes to sex.

Thank you Wednesday - you’re a legend! 

Read more about Wednesday Martin and listen to her True Sex Wild Love podcast interview with Genevieve Le Jeune at Skirt Club’s New York Signature party here.

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