Art Culture > Literature > Is female desire still unmastered? Date posted: February 11, 2013

Is female
desire still

unmastered a book on desire most difficult to tell review

Katherine Angel, an academic, and a woman, has written a candid treatise on female desire, which is causing a bit of a stir.

The subject of female desire has been ignored, vilified, made into a talking point, entertainment and studied. I find it fitting that in the same year as the best-seller lists have been dominated by the ‘Fifty Shades’ franchise, an academic book on female sexual desire has crossed the divide between text book and popular culture.

Katherine Angel, PHD, Cambridge, Harvard and now Warwick University, is a student of female sexuality and its social context. She has written on the subject for academic journals but also for the general public in The IndependentProspect, and the New Statesman.


At the end of 2012 she published Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell, a study on female desire. Angel classes desire like some sort of hunger, and after all, don’t men and women alike need substance to survive.

She has penned a candid autobiographical work, where she uses her personal experiences to describe the various facets of female desire, uncover some myths and also to entertain. Highly erotic at times, this book is a mirror into the complications of being a woman, who is both a subject and an object of desire.

Angel explores the relationship between a woman’s sexuality and validation of a man’s masculinity, and the risks it carries for a woman’s perceived femininity only in relation to a man. The subject of penetration, the concept of the woman being the receiver is also studied, and begs the question of whether a woman is bound into submission by her biology, or whether enjoyment of the act is actually more liberating than it is constricting.

While a good debut effort, the academic elements of Angel’s background are camouflaged by some haphazard attempts at poetic prose, some more successful than others. Having said that, the style of the book, as well as its content are provocatory, and while some turns of phrases may irritate the lover of good prose, it doesn’t make the subject less compelling.

This hybrid of academic literature and popular culture phenomenon, while it will never be a female version of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and so on, nor a more intellectual take on the escapades of ‘Sex and the City’ is certainly a worthy read for all those interested in Desire.

Post a comment