Been There, Done That: A Rousing History of Sex (Hardcover)
A rollicking, myth-busting history of sex that moves from historical attempts at birth control to Hildegard von Bingen’s treatise on the female orgasm, demystifying plenty of urban legends along the way.
Roman physicians told female patients they should sneeze out as much semen as possible after intercourse to avoid pregnancy. Historical treatments for erectile dysfunction included goat testicle transplants. In this kaleidoscopic compendium of centuries-old erotica, science writer Rachel Feltman shows how much sex has changed—and how much it hasn’t. With unstoppable curiosity, she debunks myths, breaks down stigma, and uses the long, outlandish history of sex to dissect present-day practices and taboos.
Feltman’s mischievous humor dismantles fear and brings scientific literacy to a subject surrounded by misinformation, and indeed, as it gravitates toward the strange, Been There, Done That delivers some sorely needed sex ed. Explorations into age-old questions and bizarre trivia around birth control, aphrodisiacs, STIs, courtship rituals, and more establish that, when it comes to carnal pleasures and procreation, there’s never been a normal, and sex isn’t something to be scared of.
—Bill Nye, science educator
“I don't want to spoil all the fun, but Been There, Done That is more than a boisterous, naked romp through the rainforest of human sexuality. Feltman has also added generous dollops of fascinating science that will expand the way you think about you-know-what.”
—Dan Fagin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation
“Feltman has unequivocally demonstrated that it’s possible to make jokes about sex that are both deeply researched AND deeply compassionate and inclusive. Been There, Done That is an eye-opening journey through human (and even non-human animal) sexuality, and everyone should read it.”
—Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Vice News correspondent and podcast host
“Been There, Done That is a lovably bonkers book that asks: Did medieval chastity belts even exist? Are bison actually gay icons? What is with James Joyce’s thing for his wife’s farts? Feltman’s writing is curious, clever, and kind as she explores the weird science of human and animal friskiness. An empathetic and relentlessly entertaining read.”
—Ella Dawson, sex and culture critic
“It shines, instead, as an irreverent invitation to be enchanted by one's body, rather than ashamed; to be present in desire, rather than dislocated from it; to cast off the veil of insecurity and embrace one's whole self.”—Shelf Awareness
“Enlivened by Feltman’s keen sense of humor and affirmational tone, this is an entertaining and informative catalog of ‘sexual expression and queer existence and horny exuberance through history.’”—Publishers Weekly
“Raucous... confident... there are numerous moments of laugh-out-loud amazement and eyebrow-raising surprise... A deep dive for sex nerds and informative fun for everyone else."—Kirkus Reviews