Much like her comedy, Mae Martin’s book Can Everyone Please Calm Down? is honest, straightforward and leaves you feeling warm inside. This is particularly impressive given she discusses some of society’s less palatable attitudes when it comes to sexuality and relationships.
Can Everyone Please Calm Down? is a dissection of the way that people view sexuality and how overwhelming it can be to exist in a cisheteronormative world when you don’t fit into a clearly defined label.
The book is a collection of stories from Mae’s perspective, mixed in with facts about the approach to sexuality in different time periods and cultures.
The personal anecdotes are charming and frank. Hearing how Mae learned about sex at a young age is genuinely heart-warming. While, as you’d expect from young children, there was some misunderstanding about how certain things worked, it was obvious that a comprehensive education prepared Mae better than sex ed does in the vast majority of schools and many homes. You can’t help but wish that everyone had parents are cool as the Martins.
The whole book is written in a way that is easy to connect to and understand. If you don’t know much about queer history, it guides you in effortlessly, but doesn’t feel patronising to anyone who has already done their research.
The book is empathetic and explores the way that attitudes have changed over the generations delicately and sensitively. It is funny and intelligent, with profound comments from academics and historians adding weight to the observations Mae makes based on her own experiences.
Can Everyone Please Calm Down? leaves you with a glowing impression of how the world could be if only people chose to stop being so awful to each other. It is a plea for people to talk more openly about sexuality with a solid argument for why.
For all its facts and information – which are incredibly interesting – the real value in this book is how it makes you feel. The way Mae writes, with a unique combination of vulnerability and confidence, makes you feel like you can trust her. It lends a sense of comfort to any exploring you might want to do of your own when it comes to the type of relationships you could want. It’s a book with enough heart that you can’t help but feel proud to read it in public, even if it does have the word SEX in big letters on it for the whole bus to see.
There is infinite value in a book that bluntly and directly tells you that you never need to defend or explain your sexuality to anyone. For that reason alone, everyone should read it.
And, although this is beside the point, it is a very pretty book.