Consciousness Raising and Orgasm Inequality

Let's talk consciousness raising (CR). In a conversation a while back - I can't remember the context exactly, but Charlie said that what needs to happen with the subjects discussed in our movie is consciousness raising. He's been reading a book off and on that's in part discussing the history of feminism, so that's where CR first really came up. But, it's also an idea Charlie, Barnaby and I have talked about (without using the words consciousness raising) many times when discussing Science Sex and the Ladies. I think Barnaby was the one who said it felt like an avalanche of ideas - once female orgasm is seen from this new perspective, other related concepts can't help but be affected - your eyes are suddenly open. Sometimes it seems like we can't turn around without it hitting us in the face, and we are all really excited to share this consciousness raising with others through our movie.

Now...I may be butchering the original purpose and meaning of consciousness raising, but I believe that at least one way of seeing CR is as a way to to look at an issue from a new perspective - particularly to take yourself out of isolation and place your own experiences within the larger condition of other like people. It is one thing to feel inadequate because you just can't lose weight in your thighs. It is quite another thing to realize that every woman you know feels inadequate due to her dissatisfaction with one or more body parts. At that point you need to step back and say - maybe this isn't my problem but a problem of cultural oppression. Maybe what I am feeling is not a result of my own personal inadequacy, but a result of the culture's poisonous attitude towards women's appearance in general. To fix such an ingrained and personal oppression like this, one first needs to know that there is a problem. When we just go around believing it's our own personal inadequacies, we can never see beyond ourselves and realize that there is a problem. That's why CR groups were first created in the late 60's. Feminist activist realized that they did not fully understand all the ways women were oppressed. They had been living in the oppression since birth, and felt a little like babies suddenly opening their eyes into a new perspective. They felt that women expressing their personal experiences could help all the women in the group better place their own experiences within the common experience of women. In this way, the activists could better see where oppression manifested itself and what needed to be acted upon.

CR popped into my mind as I was searching through blog editorials, blog
advice columns and comments about female orgasm. What I saw was droves of sad, humiliated, defeated, and confused notions surrounding our orgasms - the same notions that have been drifting around for generations. What occurred to me was that we ladies don't really realize that the private frustrations, inadequacies, and confusion we feel about orgasm are not isolated cases.  There is a problem in our sexual culture that affects all of us ladies to greater or lesser degrees. It is not just you. Yet when I read these blog comments, I saw women that feel deeply and personally responsible for not living up to what they think they should be sexually.

I see now so clearly that there is a deep seated orgasm inequality, and I also see clearly how impossible it was for me to see this earlier in my life. I know "orgasm equality" sounds kind of silly, but that is exactly what I mean to say (and I think I may use it more often...).

Let me point out one way that this inequality is so clear. The majority of women do not "usually" orgasm during sexual encounters. About 10% of women never ever orgasm. The vast majority of men orgasm usually during sexual encounters, and the non orgasm rate in men is no where near 10 percent. Yet, there is absolutely no quality scientific evidence I can find that would indicate that women in general or a particular type of woman are naturally, physically less capable of orgasm - in fact evidence points to the fact that all healthy men and women are physically capable of orgasm. What this means is with the same physical capabilities, somehow men do and women don't. Maybe, just maybe we should be saying - this isn't my problem but a problem of cultural oppression. Maybe what I am feeling is not a result of my own personal inadequacy, but a result of the culture's poisonous attitude towards women's orgasm in general.  I think that there is a fight for orgasm equality that needs to be waged. My hopes is that the movie we are making will be the beginnings of a CR movement and that CR movement will help make it clear what activism needs to be taken.

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