I have over 200 books to read on my kindle and on my bookshelves. Basically I am just stock piling for when I’m stuck in the house and cannot leave. But seriously whenever any actor, musician or politician writes their memoir, I buy the book. Or if I get obsessed with a television show or movie that was based on a book, I buy and read that book. For example, Showtime’s Masters of Sex. I love that show, so I read the book.
Of course the book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier was much more detailed than the television show it was based on. It provided a complete background of both Masters and Johnson from childhood up, where the tv show started with Masters and Johnson met. Maier’s Masters of Sex is the biography of sex researchers Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson who met in the 1950s in St. Louis and continued their research in the 1960s publishing two books, Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy, and opening a clinic for treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions.
Masters and Johnson conducted their research by observing people (volunteers) masturbating and having sex while monitoring their reactions, including heart rate, perspiration, lubrication, climax, etc. One of their main findings was that a woman’s clitoral orgasm was just as powerful/pleasurable if not more so than a vaginal orgasm, which completely contradicted Freud’s theory. This meant that women did not need men to have enjoyable, satisfying sex. Talk about a revolution! Yes Masters and Johnson led the sexual revolution and were a catalyst for the women’s movement.
In addition to their professional lives, Masters of Sex also tells the story of Masters and Johnson’s private lives both together and separate. Dr. Masters was married with kids and Virginia Johnson was twice divorced with kids, but that did not stop them from researching sex by having sex with each other. They hooked themselves up to the monitors while they were having sex, so they could record their findings. Their sexual research with each other soon turned into an affair that lasted for years and eventually culminated in marriage.
Thomas Maier does a great job with this biography using interviews he had with Virginia Johnson and excerpts from William Masters’ unpublished memoir. I highly recommend Masters of Sex to anyone who is interested in learning the way the world looked at sex, and specifically women and sex, in the 1950s and 1960s and how Masters and Johnson research changed everything.