The super awesome Stephanie Fritz has been keeping me informed about what's going on in pop culture with female sexuality. I got a text from her Monday saying "NPRs talking about female desire." I checked this out. Turns out "Tell Me More" had 2 interviews back to back dealing with the issue of women's sexual desire in their "behind closed doors" segment.

The first (find it here) was a woman named Lorri Brocco. As the host said, "Lorri Brocco is a psychologist in Vancouver, Canada. She is considered one of the world's leading specialists in hypo sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women." Hypo sexual desire disorder is a disorder involving lack of sexual interest. The host began by saying Ms. Brocco was leading the effort to update the HSDD definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that will be updated in the next few years.

One point she made was that HSDD is currently officially defined as a lack or deficiency in fantasies or desire for sexual activity. She says, "the focus on the lack of fantasy is highly problematic because when we interview women...they don't necessarily talk about fantasies as being a hallmark sign of whether or not they have desire. In fact, many women will often say that they deliberately bring up fantasies in their mind as a way of focusing on the sexual situation, promoting desire, becoming aroused."

She goes on to say, "The second problem with the definition, desire for sexual activity, stems from the finding that there may be any number, in fact several hundred different reasons why women might engage in sexual activity, and very often it may have nothing at all to do with desire. It may relate to not being in the mood in the present but wanting to become in the mood, wanting to please a partner, wanting to experience emotional connection, and the list goes on and on."

There was not really much more to the interview except an acknowledgement that there is surprisingly little data-driven knowledge about women's sexuality even in this sex saturated culture. Ms. Brocco also stated that the 1998 approval of Viagra probably started the increased interest in studying female sexuality and that she believes the tides are changing for the better.

I thought that this interview fell into the same category that most well-meaning media tidbits on female sexuality fall into. It acknowledges that there is a strange discord between a feeling of ignorance about how women experience/express sexuality and a feeling that there is actually too much female sexuality in the media. It acknowledges that men and women experience sexuality differently. Then it vaguely references emotion as a missing link for women's differences to men, women's sexual problems, and for our culture's strange disaccorded feelings about female sexuality. However, it never articulates anything beyond these very general ideas.

As you might imagine from my other blogs, I think any current discussion of female sexuality that doesn't investigate our culture's utter ignorance of the physical female orgasm, is not even scratching the surface.

The second interview (find it here) on "Tell Me More" was with a woman that wrote a play called "In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)" set in the Victorian Era when women used to be treated for "hysteria" by getting their vulva stimulated (manually or with the newly created vibrators made for this particular medical problem). The play seems interesting, and it got good reviews - and that was mostly what the interview was about. However the host did briefly delve into more general questions about female sexuality though. He asked, "But what do you think it is that people are responding to in this play? Do you have a sense that for all of our talking about sex and having it all in our face all the time that we really haven't advanced that much at all?"

There was no reference to the fact that our cultural understanding of how a woman physically obtains and experiences an orgasm is ridiculously similar to our understanding in 1945. No, the answer came back to - no surprise - a vague notion involving our inability to completely deal with the emotions of sexuality.

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