We are all curious about how our sex lives compare with those around us. So curious, in fact, that what we’re getting up to in the bedroom is an enduring area of interest for scientists and statisticians, who put a lot of time and energy into quantifying our nocturnal behaviours. But while statistics can give us an idea, interpreting the results can be challenging. Not only is it unclear whether the answers given by study participants are reliable, but the results may not always be straightforward.
Thirty-five years ago on June 7 1980, Henry Miller died at his home in Pacific Palisades, California. His had been an extraordinary life, and he left behind a body of work of unique character and quality. Sadly, in the popular mind (if that term can be applied to the mainstream media commentariat) Miller is referenced too often as a notorious author of smutty ramblings. In reality he was in the first rank of radical 20th century writers, and many of his books would qualify as ‘the great American novel’, were they merely novels rather than semi-autobiographical works of polemic and social critique. Lawrence Durrell and Norman Mailer were both unreserved in their admiration of the meaning and power of his work.
"We're not junkies," says Michael, the newest member of a group for Internet addicts. His relationship may be in tatters, but his YouTube videos have become a sensation (almost 2,000 hits a day). This is Anonymous Anonymous, AA, if you will. But Michael's right in a way. The four people sitting in this circle haven't hit rock bottom through any of the more “traditional” addictions. They're here because they can't stop Tweeting, can't get off Facebook, they scour and contribute to forums as day turns into night.
“About beauty they were never wrong, the ancient masters” – so W.H. Auden might have professed upon seeing Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art, the British Museum’s most significant exhibition of Greek art in decades. It is a truism, after all – or an ingrained assumption – that Greek sculpture epitomises beauty in art, especially the classical Greek sculpture that emerged from 'democratic' Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. Since antiquity itself, this view has heavily shaped the way we think about art, and about beauty. And wandering through the low-lit chambers of the new Sainsbury exhibition wing at the British Museum, it is hard to deny the allure of the sculpted bodies on display. Lithe, torqued, tensed or rippling, they multiply into a pantheon of gods, athletes and heroes.
Addressing an event in such recent history, you would be forgiven for thinking you knew everything about the Iraq war. After numerous Hollywood blockbusters, public executions and a worldwide critique of the parts America and the UK played in the arguably unnecessary and absolutely mishandled invasion of Iraq, we understand the politics of the war so much more clearly in hindsight. It is interesting to discover a side of the story that has been largely overlooked, something that all too often happens when the subject matter is women. The Lonely Soldier Monologues is an entirely verbatim play written by Helen Benedict, recounting stories told to her by female American soldiers deployed to Iraq. Superbly directed by Prav MJ, seven women deliver fiercely striking and honest performances that would make their real-life counterparts proud.
For Books Sake's star has been gradually rising since its launch in 2010. Its aim is threefold – to champion writing by women and girls, reform the mainstream media's gender bias, and to petition national exam boards to better reflect equality and diversity. As a charity it's all done voluntarily, with a dedicated cast of reviewers, editors, feature writers and commissioners. And now it has launched a short-fiction anthology dedicated to erotica by women, compiled from an open call for submissions and featuring emerging as well as established writers.
High Society: Kevin Spacey's tenure at the Old Vic is almost up, after an 12-year jaunt that's taken the theatre to as many corners of the thespian globe as it's possible to go. The success of last season's Clarence Darrow saw queues snaking round the side of the building (I know because my mum was one of them, hunched in the doorway in a sleeping bag at 4am). And what better way to bow out than on the sparkling pink cocktail that is High Society – at once sexy, jolly and naff.
Ali May’s debut collection of erotic short stories, Geography of Attraction, takes the reader around the globe, pausing breathlessly to observe the fleeting flirtations and longings of others as nationalities and philosophies entwine and people connect through that universal language, desire.
A new book about breastfeeding reminds us that them hooters have a more serious raison d'être. As an ex-marketing employee of Sainsbury’s, Melissa Addey knows her stuff: she understands how a product should look, where it should be placed and who is going to buy it. She’s a very clever woman indeed. She's also a skilful writer with a chatty manner and a nice, easy-to-read style. She's the mate who is sweetly dispensing advice, just like a good mate should. Both the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) and Mumsnet have given this guide their nod of approval.
This is a call to arms. Sexism is alive and well, and yet, as Caroline Criado-Perez shows in her book Do It like a Woman, there are amazing women out there doing their best to kick the shit out of it. She asks us all to revel in their achievements and to join their ranks. No false moustaches or male pseudonyms required. Just do it like a woman.