American women’s sexual desire remains locked up in ambivalence over physicality and emotional connection. Even the esteemed NYTimes rarely helps us to make progress with our own selves and our sexual bodies.
Today’s NYTimes article The Pleasure Principle focuses on the San Francisco One Taste Urban Retreat Center, a place devoted to unlocking the female pleasure principle, or “the slow-sex movement”, as founder Nicole Daedone calls it.
I have the impression that, almost universally, the NYTimes sexuality articles convey a sense of ultimate judgment about their subject matter. Writers don’t report on an event or unusual sexual practice, without mentioning its ultimate immorality or failings.
These practices are not necessary in good journalism. We readers are capable to drawing our own conclusions.
Without endorsing the practices or intellectual foundations of the One Taste Urban Retreat Center, writer Patricia Leigh Brownone could have investigated more and moralized less.
Just One Taste
As a sexuality expert, who is deeply attuned to the spectrum of women’s lives (there are multiple versions of us women out there), the following points in the article are worthy of consideration:
- “In our culture, admitting our bodies matter is almost an admission of failure,” said Ms. Daedone, 41 … “I don’t think women will really experience freedom until they own their sexuality.”
- A core attribute of one woman at the center is described as “the lingering velocity of my desire and my hesitation to give into it.” Another woman describes her desire to engage in morning OMing practice as reflecting her “deep physical access to the woman I am and the woman I want to be.”
The rituals of the One Taste center do not involve sexual contact between the men and women, and the men do not climax. All focus is on the women. The OMing is described as “hydration” of the self and human connection, not sex.
“It’s a procedure to nourish the limbic system, like yoga or Pilates, with no other strings attached,” followers say.
Rather than point out the inadequacies of a practice that doesn’t focus on heart-focus, as much as genital-focus, writer Brown could have pushed more deeply into the actual feelings and sensations experienced by the women.
In a society where we are remain challenged to get men and women on the same page, in terms of the sexual experience, the benefit to readers of this article could be something more provocative, rather than mocking the scene as something from Woody Allen’s movie “Bananas”.
How does Brown know the atmosphere in the room, at the end of a session? She wasn’t there — or was she? The writer doesn’t make this clear.
I believe that One Taste’s founder Nicole Daedone’s fundamental assertion is correct:
Breaking through the resistance of shame that women feel about their bodies continues to challenge modern sexuality.
Oprah has slid backwards on the topic.
Several years ago, Oprah challenged women to get out the mirror, looking at themselves “down there’. It was an earth-shaking moment, and I used the film in my own trend presentations.
Two months ago, Oprah made “icky faces” when Dr. Kaura Berman challenged women in the audience to go the same thing. I was astonished, watching Oprah squirm in her chair.
This is progress? And is Oprah’s weight gain related to this renewed, old-school attitude about female sexuality?
Because writer Brown won’t give us any information about the positive aspects of the actual female experience at One Taste, other than to talk about Daedone as a potential cult leader, who sends too many emails, let me tell you where she could have gone with the article.
Undiscovered, Unknown Sexual Power
Last summer I enjoyed the company of a totally verile, athletically powerful, man over 60. He was schooled in Tantric sexual practices, which I am not.
I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one of his OMing type orgasms, although we weren’t OMing in a group.
To this day, I am mystified about what he did with my body, because there was no actual sexual contact. His fingers were on my abdomen at all times, although he was very focused, doing whatever he was doing.
Having come light years on my own sexual journey to selfhood, I now accept pleasure in my life without guilt. But this experience was something else entirely.
Like the women in One Taste, I was the total focus of this sensual experience, which became incredibly sexual, but without any kind of known sexual contact. At moments, this man hovered over my lower body, sending me into total ecstacy in his visual and sensory celebration of my body.
Experiencing explosive orgams I remember crying out “What are you doing?”
I was shell-shocked over my reaction, especially when he hadn’t penetrated me in any way or used any sex toys.
Unlike Brown’s assertion that a focus on female genitalia has nothing to do with the heart, my experience was totally emotional.
While I felt wonderful about this man and continue to see him, the REAL experience was with myself, and it was totally emotional, psychological and almost overpowering, in a mindblowing way.This man jettisoned me out of any guilt I might have about my own genitalia, making them the object of his total focus, in a gorgeous, loving, celebratory way.
Recalling my own experience, I believe that Daedone’s practice attempts to unlock female sexuality are valid, if potentially unnerving for women who continue to struggle with the good girl/bad girl complex.
Writer Brown drives a chasm between female, genital-based orgasm and feelings of the heart. I believe that they not only go together, but until a woman truly accepts and understands her physical sexuality, she will be a prisoner of herself.
The threat is not that she will become some wanton woman with a hundred lovers.
The threat is that she will dismiss the importance of sex in her marriage, once the contract is signed. The threat is that she will not love the woman in her mirror, that she will not nurture her, her health, her body … her physicality.
The threat is that because she is ambivalent about her sexual desire, that she will hold herself in check, never becoming the confident woman she aspires to be. She will be angry, and that anger will transfer somewhere … to husband, to children, to friends and family. Most importantly, a woman will turn that anger back on herself.
I’m not sure how far we’ve come in the liberation of female sexuality, when Opray calls her vagina a ‘vajayjay’. Women remain prisoners of themselves, and it’s not men — but women ourselves — who continue to keep our erotic zones under wraps, as if the only zone that matters is our heart.
My goal in writing this piece is not to endorse the sexual communal practices of One Taste Urban Retreat Center. My goal is to say ‘for shame’ for writing an article that keeps women in essentially the same box, rather than sharing facts from women who have grown because their One Taste experience.
Smart Sensuality women know that our sexual bodies need nurturing, not more moralizing. And we must help other women to accept their own physicality. Apparently, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted.
Fifty years after Erica Jong wrote “Fear of Flying”, we American ladies continue to fly pretty darn low to the ground, at least in terms of what we say, if not what we do.
Medical research, brain scans, and Internet search statistics indicate that there remains a sexually hungry woman inside our bodies … one yearning to be free. Until we embrace her, we will continue to be a society of double-talking dames. Anne