Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller, experienced sex educators who co-founded the Alternatives to Marriage Project, discussed the myths and truths of the female orgasm in front of a packed crowd at Robert Purcell last night.
Solot began with a narrative of her experiences with masturbation, from her teenage years, when her mother gave her a brochure entitled “What Every Teen Should Know,” to her college years at Brown, where she attended a one-time class on self-stimulation.
Afterward, Solot said, “I walked out of the classroom … and into the campus bookstore, where I bought The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. … It was the best $6.99 I ever spent.”
Solot and Miller proceeded to ask students what they had heard about the female orgasm from their parents, friends and the media. Responses ranged from “When you’ve had an orgasm, you know” to “Female orgasms are better than male orgasms.” Solot then unveiled her collection of orgasm-related magazine covers, including one called “What Men Think About Your Orgasm Face.”
Solot provided three main reasons for the mystery surrounding the female orgasm. She first pointed to the silence many households adopt regarding the subject of masturbation and sexual anatomy. She made the observation that “as children, we are constantly exploring our bodies. Our parents tell us, ‘This is your nose, this is your knee,’ but when our hands move to our genitalia, our parents move our hands away. At some point, we begin internalizing that there’s something bad about that region.”
Second, for girls the most frequent advice parents and health educators told them was how to say no to sex. However, “when the time actually comes for sex, girls are not sure what to do anymore,” Solot said.
Third, Solot explained that unlike men, who “touch their reproductive organ every time they pee,” women have most of their sexual areas “all tucked neatly inside, so they rarely have an opportunity to see the anatomy of their peers” or to intimately know their own. “This can cause women to fear that there is something wrong with their organ,” Solot said.
The couple then separated the audience by gender. While Miller led the men to another room, Solot encouraged the women to share some of their orgasm experiences. When asked about the circumstances surrounding their first orgasm, students contributed a myriad of responses, from an accidental discovery at the playground to cunnilingus.
Following the same gender discussions, Solot and Miller dove into the more technical aspects of their lecture with diagrams of the female erogenous zones and a lesson on the steps of the arousal cycle. The couple agreed that “oral sex is usually more effective than intercourse in bringing women to orgasm” but encouraged masturbation as the first step for women in understanding their sexual needs. To illustrate their point, Solot and Miller displayed their collection of vibrators, including the Nimbus 2000 broom, a vibrating reconstruct of the broom Harry Potter used to play Quidditch.
Miller, pointing out that he and Solot are an unmarried couple, welcomed the audience to “learn from the perspective of partnership.” He noted that “men have a range of reactions to female orgasms” and that “lots of people with female partners want to learn about this topic and have lots of questions.” His comment was confirmed by the large turnout of both men and women in the room.
Barbara Jastran, a sex health therapist at Gannett, described the lecture as “very informational” and educational for “an audience who is very curious about this topic and is searching for answers.”
The lecture was sponsored by Community Development, Hillel, the Women’s Center and Gannett as part of their effort to provide students with accurate, pertinent information regarding sex.
Archived article by Xiaowei Cathy Tang