Punk's Reviews > Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex

Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation by Olivia Judson
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Jun 21, 10

bookshelves: non-fiction, science
Read from June 13 to 20, 2010

Non-Fiction. Dr. Tatiana is the Dr. Ruth of the animal kingdom, that much is fictional, but the advice she gives is all fact, or, at the very least, theory.

This is evolutionary biology framed like a relationship column. Dr. Tatiana takes letters from the birds, the bees, and the stick insects and advises them on their difficult love lives. It's a great way to get information across and the book is structured well, one topic easily leading to another. Judson never gets too technical and covers a lot of different sexual and reproductive practices, even dipping into the plant world from time to time. The book also has an index, author's notes, and an extensive bibliography, making it a good resource to find specific information, or to find further reading on the subject.

The problem comes when Judson takes the conversational tone of an advice columnist and applies it to animals; it's almost as if she forgets that her readers are still human. She makes a lot of bad word choices. She repeatedly uses the word "slut" and its synonyms in ways that could be considered negative. She uses "cripple" and "imbecile" and there are entire chapters on forced sexual activity ("rape") and incest. At times, reading this was very much like being poked in the eye.

I do love the way she repeatedly uses "sexy" to describe the myriad characteristics that animals find attractive; it's a good reminder that everyone has different things that turn them on, and overall her message seems to be one of acceptance for those of different genders, sexual practices, or lack of sexual practices, but the problematic language undermines that attitude.

Three stars, would have gotten four if not for the consistently poor word choices; it took away a lot of my enjoyment of the book.
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Reading Progress

06/13/2010 page 64
20.0% "First section discusses evolutionary advantages of females sleeping around."
06/19/2010 page 165
52.0% "In humans, fraternal twins can have different fathers."
06/20/2010 page 192
60.0% "The language in this book is just getting more and more problematic."

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