Thank You, Christine O'Donnell
Tuesday 09 November 2010
by: Betty Dodson Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
Christine may have lost her bid for Congress, but she did masturbation a great service. For that I sincerely thank her. After more years than I care to remember, I've struggled to liberate this basic healthy activity, but now, I have to hand it to her. She managed to get the word into the public sphere in a way that far surpassed Dr. Elders and my own masturbation crusade that's been going on since 1970. Most likely, you've never heard of me because I say positive things about this humble, but universal, sexual activity. During my entire career as an artist, author, creator of erotic sex-ed videos and, finally, as a Ph.D. sexologist, I have consistently been censored.
One of the reasons I admire Christine is her commitment to make her ideas public. What drives anyone to do that, especially against such great odds? Although our views are diametrically opposed, I can identify with her: I'm a Midwestern girl from Kansas from a middle-class family that always struggled to make ends meet. I, too, was insecure about my academic credentials when I began to teach women about female orgasms, but, unlike Christine, I never lied about my lack of formal education. My parents were never involved with any organized religion, and as a result, I ended up with a sense of morality that was a different form of Christianity from that of most devout Catholics, like Christine. She could sin and be forgiven, while I had no absolution when dealing with my conscience of right versus wrong.
As Christine reached her 40s, she entered politics. At the same age, I left a fine art career to become a feminist, which was my political activism. The concept that the personal was political allowed me to understand authoritarian rule (one) as opposed to democratic rule (consensus). At this point, Christine and I go our separate ways. Still, I can see our commonality. We were two cute but undereducated girls with many handicaps and a lot of courage to make a difference by speaking out. Masturbation is a lustful sin in her eyes, and she is now a polished TV personality. I've been supportive of this basic human activity for decades and I can't even get arrested.
In the '60s, we called authoritarians who wanted to censor sexual pleasures "The Man." Next it was Reagan's "Moral Majority," when Ronnie sacrificed his sex life to eating jelly beans. Bush the first was totally pussy-whipped while his wife Barbara ran the show. Then we were finally blessed with Clinton, our next sexually active president post Kennedy. Men who enjoy sex are less likely to declare war. Under Clinton, America had more sexual freedom and a balanced budget, but we all know how that ended. Our Puritan underpinnings broke lose. A furious right wing had a heyday when they discovered Clinton was having sex with a cute, chubby intern. Finally the GOP gave sex-starved Americans a sex scandal - blow jobs in the oval office! Ken Starr blew a load of taxpayers' money detailing the entire episode. There is nothing our sexually repressed country loves more than a sex scandal. It's the only time pious people get to read about "sex" in the media other than by secretly watching porn. That means people can talk about sex, maybe get a buzz from a few of the details, while they gleefully condemn the poor celebrity who got caught.
So, what does sexual liberation have to do with politics? Everything! Authoritarian religions have known for centuries that it's easy to control people through the power of sexual guilt - it works like a charm. Create social rules that no one can adhere to, like abstinence-only until marriage. Make sure the only appropriate lifestyle is marriage between a man and a woman with a lifetime of sexual monogamy. Top that off by prohibiting the one sexual outlet that might bring relief to sexual boredom by making masturbation a sin. Yup, we're all sinners! Oh, except for Catholic priests who get sent to another parish after they've gotten caught seducing choir boys.
After 40-some years as a vibrator-toting, feminist sex educator specializing in masturbation for women and girls, I've reached a conclusion: The seeds of violence are planted in each nuclear family and nourished by the ongoing power struggle between men and women, with few female orgasms in sight. Our youth has pornography standing in for sex ed, which is unfortunate because most porn is entertainment for men. It has little or nothing to do with what women want or need when it comes to pleasure that would end in their orgasmic release.
I now hear a chorus of men saying, "But all of the women I've had sex with always come from vaginal intercourse." I'm sorry to be the one to clue them in: Until women are no longer financially dependent on men, we'll fake orgasms to put food on the table for our children. Interesting recent data shows that a growing number of women are saying no to marriage.
I believe that as long as the battle between the sexes rages on, there will be no world peace. Just as all honest speech about healthy human sexuality has disappeared from public discourse, we are now censoring America's ongoing wars from television and news media. When Jon Stewart recently interviewed President Obama, he had to agree not to bring up America's wars in the Middle East. I think it's disgusting that we call our destructive violence against these oil rich countries a war. For example, WikiLeaks.com's latest shocking reports about America's handling of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, with Pakistan getting bombed by US drones, got much less mention in the press than, say, the Tea Party. We talk about war, but it's really about occupying a country to protect the oil pipeline and make more money manufacturing the Pentagon's beloved weapons of mass destruction.
We act as though we are a democracy, but the truth is, America is in the business of war, and we are controlled by corporations that have no soul and no motivation other than to increase profits. War has always been a great source for profiteering. All the CEOs of corporations play a numbers game to win, but to win what exactly? Is it really no different than playing poker? To see who wins the biggest pile of money sitting in the middle of the table? Meanwhile, we have the top 1 percent with all the wealth increasing their share of our national wealth at an increasing rate, while the middle class gradually disappears and the poverty level is rapidly rising.
My friend Richard Chilton and his wife Margery Coffey have lived a full generation on an Indian reservation in Nebraska with indigenous people in abject poverty. Over these past years, Margery earned her Ph.D. documenting the Omaha's tribal history to preserve their traditions. Since I'm part Native American, I've been in touch with this couple for quite some time. Recently, Richard said what was blowing his mind was and the back-to-back perception of viewing the world first from the tribal point of view, since knowing me, from a sexual point of view. He believes that all wars revolve around the economics of sexual control, NOT just resources. He believes I'm a truth teller with Grandmother Wisdom that's honored by Native Americans.
Over the years, my approach to teaching sex has been applauded by many and criticized by others. My critics accuse me of being too focused on the physical body and orgasms. They believe the quality of a relationship is far more important than liking our sex organs and learning sexual skills. Others are convinced that until we deal with the cultural, social and economic inequalities in women's lives, sexual pleasure is a luxury most women cannot afford. Some feminists insist we must end all forms of violence against women before they can feel safe enough to enjoy their clitorises. However, I disagree. In my opinion, enjoying orgasms alone and with our partners is essential for every woman's self-esteem. Otherwise we feel inadequate knowing that something is missing and we usually blame ourselves. I've often wondered if Christine is orgasmic? Does she like sex? I think we all have a right to know where our potential leaders stand when it comes to sexuality.
During the 25 years I ran masturbation workshops for women, the opening question, "How do you feel about your body and your orgasm?" made every woman present realize how much confusion, pain and suffering sexual ignorance had caused us. Each group unanimously agreed that both women and men would be a lot happier with less verbal and physical violence if everyone took a course in Orgasms 101.
When I was studying at the Art Students League in New York City, both teachers and students agreed that the creative process required complete freedom to explore our deepest feelings and thoughts. Now, in my second career as a clinical sexologist, I feel the same way about human sexuality. Creative lovemaking also requires complete freedom to explore our sexual bodies and erotic minds. No religion, organization or government agency has the right to tell us with whom, or under what circumstances we can enjoy sex with other consenting adults. In any country that upholds the ideals of the democratic process; artistic expression and sexual freedom have always gone hand in hand.
Sex and art share other commonalities. A world-class lover and a first-rate artist require skills that must be learned and practiced consistently. Unfortunately, many people believe that art is based on inherited talent and good sex comes naturally as the result of a loving relationship. These are erroneous notions that give us art ruled by public relations and limited sexual expression based on the male model that serves procreation with vaginal penetration and his ejaculation. Sorry Dr. Freud, but very few women orgasm without some form of direct clitoral stimulation. We have art schools, but where do we go to learn the basics of how to sexually please ourselves let alone someone else? This is the challenge facing sex educators today, especially in America where sex is a political battlefield as the boundaries between church and state continue to blur. The question is, "Who owns our bodies, minds, and sexuality?" Most would answer, "Each individual does!"
Until we acknowledge and accept masturbation as the foundation for all of human sexual activity, we will continue to be a nation of fast-ejaculating men and pre-orgasmic women. Through the consistent practice of masturbation, girls can become orgasmic women who are rarely victims because they have self-esteem and can speak their minds. Boys who have trained themselves to control ejaculation will become men with sexual self-assurance who are less prone to violence. By lessening sexual ignorance, boys and girls will make better social adjustments. Once we can accept sexual diversity as the law of the land, the quality of everyone's lives will improve.
Experiencing more sexual pleasure would end some of the cold and hot wars being waged behind closed doors in our affairs, marriages, domestic partnerships and families. Sexual fulfillment is our birthright and it belongs to each individual of every sexual orientation both young and old. Physical affection and intimate touch is what most of us desire and deserve. Having an orgasm might become the most political act any of us can perform.
Maybe Christine will invite me to be a guest for her upcoming TV show on Oprah's new network. Don't hold your breath! I'll be with my business partner Carlin on our Internet show at www.dodsonandross.com every Friday.
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