CR Groups!!! (or just start being more real with your friends)

I'm reading Betty Dodson's book, My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir, and I suddenly felt the urge to start a sexual Consciousness Raising group. You know...a good old fashioned CR group like what the ladies of the 2nd Wave feminist movement used to do. I could get several ladies together, have some eat and some drink, and share our sexual histories; our frustrations, our triumphs, our confusion.

The ladies in the 70's would use CR groups to learn about the "female experience," and by "female experience" I mean something larger than just a particular female's experience. I'm talking about experiences that exist in varying degrees for all females and exist specifically because of the fact that they are females. By talking about personal experiences and feelings, a group of women could become more conscious of the larger social structure in which they were living. They could begin to see where their personal experiences intersected and became more than just personal experiences. They were discovering where the personal did in fact become political. The female voice had been left out of so much at that time - science, history, literature, health care, politics, that both men and women had only really been able to see much of the world through a male perspective, so it was a kind of radical, grass-roots way to help women learn about how their perspective might enhance and change our understanding of these things; science, health care, history, and politics, etc.

Sexuality was also a part of CR groups, but to be frank, there was a strong rift in the feminist community during the 70's and 80's regarding porn, and women never really came together to put a lasting and useful female perspective into our sexual culture. I would argue the only real forward movement in our sex culture from this time was giving women more freedom to move within the male dominated sexual culture that already existed.

So, back to my point...I'm reading about Betty Dodson's experiences and her CR groups about female sexuality, and I'm realizing that if I created one today (almost 40 years later), we'd be in largely the same place; talking about basically the same problems and being equally as ignorant about the female perspective and other women's sexual realities. It makes me sad that we have gained so little over the past 40 years in this regard, and that's why I felt like a CR group on this subject could be so useful.

On a side note...I wrote this blog a couple days ago, and since then have had a chance to actually have a blunt discussion about sexual experiences with a group of women. Few of the women knew each other before that night, yet it was a really insightful conversation. I think women really hunger for more openness with other women about these types of things. It's clear that we have all, at different times, had to muddle through, taking risks, and making our own rules to get to places where we feel comfortable. We've had to do this without the kinds of clues in our media, culture, and education that help males understand their sexual bodies and how they fit into partner sex. No woman I know has had an easy time with this, and some have had a downright miserable time. I'm all for CR groups but in the meantime, I say let's start opening up more with our friends. Leave out the bravado and competitiveness. Add in more of the inadequacies and questions. Just tell each other about your experiences and how you feel about them - good, bad, and ugly.. Start slow if you need to, but if we all start to be more real with each other about this, then maybe we'll all start feeling less like we're the only ones with these "problems" and more like we want to change the society that led us to believe they were problems in the first place.

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