Dr. Ruth on Johnny Carson in 1982: The Culture of Lady-gasm Hasn't Changed Much :(

First of, Antenna TV, people - amiright?!
Have I ever told you that I love Antenna TV? I don't have cable. I have my Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime, but maybe better than those are the random .2 and .3 over-air stations that have a strange and wonderful array of movies and shows. Antenna TV is on 59.2 here in Indy, and it has stuff like Sanford and Son, Maude, Family Ties, One Day at a Time and recently - random The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson episodes.

Dr. Ruth doin' the damn thing...the same damn thing we're doin' today
Well, it just so happened that Dr. Ruth Westheimer was on last night from the June 11, 1982 episode. And you know what? I realized that Lady-gasms are no better off now than they were when I was 2. Seriously. She basically told the same story you hear from every sex adviser these days. Men are asking how they can please the ladies and women are asking why they aren't pleased. The basic problem  of orgasm equality was there 30-some years ago, and it doesn't seem to have gotten better.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

I don't have exact quotes because it was over the air and I can't rewatch to check my quotes, but when asked about who calls and what they say, she said something like:
I get calls from men who ask about women's sexual satisfaction, - 'how can I know if my partner's satisfied...if she had an orgasm.
She says she likes men asking that because it signifies a caring lover. Then this is what she said of women, well something like this - this is not an exact quote:
I have met many women who have never felt sexual gratification - been married 19 years and never...and they never touch themselves because they have been told good girls don't touch there and don't let their husbands touch there for the same reason...and they have vasocongestion that leaves them with bad feelings and that's why they say things like they are tired and try to avoid it altogether.
First off, I love that she uses the word vasocongestion. She's talking about the increased blood pooling down there during arousal, but all technical and shit. Basically she's saying these ladies get aroused, get the equivalent of blueballs because they're all full of blood down there but never 'sexually gratified' and then they're all like, 'fuck this bullshit that's supposed to be awesome, but actually sucks. I'm just gonna say I'm tired  - because I am. I'm tired of this shit.'

Fair enough hypothetical lady. Fair enough. But, can I quickly point out that this is an age-old problem that is still very, very much with us. Men and women do what they are supposed to, what's supposed to be mutually orgasmic. They have intercourse, but because of, well, women don't orgasm from vaginal stimulation, women rarely orgasm in this situation, and men almost always do (because they do orgasm from penile stimulation), and so over time with less sexual acts ending in orgasm for her than him, the excitement of the situation wears off for an otherwise sexually healthy woman, and her interest and desire for sex slowly decreases. It's the ol' 'wives don't like sex' schtick - that is still fodder for jokes because it's still laced with truth. It's sad for everyone involved.

The mountains of sex advisers like Dr. Ruth are just putting a band-aid on a gaping crater in our sexual culture
Dr, Ruth then goes on to say that something she advises is that people communicate about this gently and maybe over coffee or something - so one person telling the other what they liked and didn't as much. She thinks that guiding your partner's hands on your body where it feels good is a good way to communicate your needs. She also advocates that masturbation is normal and sometimes advises for people to masturbate together and maybe in bed together. She doesn't say the word clitoris directly, but through her discussion of masturbation and hand-guiding, it's clear that she sees the clit as important to a couple' sex life.

That is all good advise, and certainly anytime masturbation is advocated, I'm fully behind that, but for fuck sake, it's the same stuff people say now only there's a shit-ton more Dr. Ruth types all over the book shelves, TV, and internet pages saying it in all different ways. You can't swing a cat without hitting one (not that I would swing a cat. I love cats). So, why the hell has the orgasm gap not let up?

Why is it clear that women's bodies are not less able to orgasm than men's (we can masturbate as quickly easily and reliably as men) but somehow when we're with partners, we just aren't orgasming as much? If advise like Dr. Ruth was giving is that good and now there's even more of it than ever, why are women and men still asking in droves about how women orgasm, how you know women have orgasmed, and about how women can orgasm easier and more? Why is there still so much pain, ignorance, and insecurity about the female orgasm - which contrary to popular belief, really isn't rocket science? Why is this still happening?

Let's recap
In 1982:
  • Women were not getting near the orgasms men were getting in the bedroom 
  • Men and women both were worried about it
  • Sex advisers advise communication, gentle experimentation, and thinking more about the clit during sex.
In 2016, 34 years later:
  • SAME
In the 50's (check out the book American Sexual Character - a great discussion about this in the 50's):
  • SAME
Since the early part of the 20th Century when 'experts' began really openly discussing the need for women to orgasm, this is the discussion that has been happening. There has always, certainly from the 50's on, been a cultural acknowledgement that the clit could and sometimes should be involved in sex for female satisfaction, but there has never been a deep change from the oh-so-strong societal mindset that that tells us: sex is intercourse and that intercourse is somehow as orgasmic for women as it is for men.

We need to flip the hell out of the goddamn script 
Without a change in that mindset, without a full acknowledgement that 1. women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, 2. that intercourse is not a sensible way to stimulate the clit, and 3. that the way our society has been depicting, discussing, teaching, advising on, and doing sex is simply not good for female orgasm (but super good for male orgasm), then we, as a society, will continue on this same stagnant path of women having too few orgasms and 'experts' giving advice that merely band-aids the problem instead of actually fixing it. WE ARE NOT GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. Maybe sex advice like Dr. Ruth or the 1,000s of advisers like her might help one couple with their one problem, but no-one is really trying to bulldoze those cultural norms that ensure people will continue to have these problems over and over and over again by the millions.

****On a lighter note and as a fun bonus, 
let me mention a couple more things about Dr. Ruth and this episode:
  • Here's something I didn't realize about Dr. Ruth. Clearly she was an icon in my very young youth. I remember using her name in jokes and stuff, but I never really listened to her. I was too young. Anyway, she felt it incredibly important to speak publicly about sex in a tasteful way, a way that is accurate and non-offensive because there are so many personal feeling on the matter out there in this country. It is something she reiterated over and over. It seemed like a real throwback sentiment - like the way turn of the century doctors used to reiterate how technical and non-titillating their work was so they would be taken seriously. However, even with all her emphasis on that sort of decorum, I still thought she sounded pretty much like any sex advise person you'd see on national TV today.
  • In mentioning how normal self gratification is, she mentions that baby boys can be born with an erection and girls with lubrication in the vagina. I LOVE that she equates an erection with vaginal lubrication - because they should be equated. They are both the first signs of arousal (blood pooling in the genital region causes both those things), but I find it is rare to hear them spoken about that way - so much so that I sometimes wonder if some people giving sex advice really know how shit works down there.

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