A week after devouring Untrue, Wednesday Martin’s eminently readable treatise on the lies society has been fed about female sexuality, agency, and infidelity, I saw an ad for Brooklinen sheets on the New York City subway. Three sets of socked feet were sticking out from beneath these sheets—two male, one female. “For throuples,” it began. I squealed. I was immediately reminded of the eighth chapter of Martin’s book, “Loving the Woman Who’s Untrue,” in which she interviews Carrie Jenkins, a professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the author of a book on the empirical basis for arithmetical knowledge. Lately, as Martin explains, Jenkins “is as likely to be called a whore, a slut, ‘a walking sexually transmitted infection,’ ‘everything that is wrong with women,’ ‘a selfish cunt’ ... as she is to be addressed with the honorific ‘professor.’ ”
Why? Because she dared to write—matter-of-factly, philosophically—about her own polyamorous living arrangement: a husband of six years and a boyfriend of five.
“Simply going public with her day-to-day life was threatening to the order of things,” writes Martin. It’s a claim that can easily be made, too, of Untrue, a book that may very well set off nuclear bombs in bedrooms, boardrooms, and advertising agencies—specifically, those that for decades have peddled the norms of the male libido, ad nauseam, in magazines, on billboards, and via Super Bowl ads. To wit: When New York magazine’s The Cut wrote about Jenkins’s living arrangement, it used a stock photo of a man and two women. In an article about a woman with two men. Which brings me back to the Brooklinen ad and my subway squeal. Finally!, I thought, the first normalization of the female fantasy of multiple partners I’ve ever seen that wasn’t on a porn site.