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A Provocative Topic

Female sexual desire. Amazing how provocative this topic is. For the past several years, I have taught a workshop entitled Uncovering Desire, which is designed for woman who struggle with low sexual desire. I remember when I first posted this workshop on a local online bulletin board, there was a flurry comments in response ranging from sarcastic to adolescent, with others full of sexual bravado and joking. I was surprised to find such impulsive, unreflected reactions in what I thought to be a progressive community in Sonoma County. But clearly, I had jangled a nerve deep in the cultural substrata. Then, a few months ago, the published an article about a new trial drug designed to increase female sexual desire. The article is long, but the end is really worth getting to. The writer reveals that the drug companies, despite their effort to create this pill, have concern about the potential ramifications of increasing women’s sexual appetite, apparently jangling that same cultural nerve: …companies worried about the prospect that their study results would be too strong, that the F.D.A. would reject an application out of concern that a chemical (that increases women’s sexual desire) would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering. “You want your effects to be good but not too good,” …“There was a lot of discussion about it by the experts in the room,” … “the need to show that you’re not turning women into nymphomaniacs.” Read more At first I laughed, imagining a comical scene where a table full of serious scientists are discussing this terrible danger! But quickly, the deeper implications struck me. This isn’t a joke. This is a reflection of an ancient and deeply rooted perspective that sexual women are dangerous. Dangerous enough to destroy the fabric of society. Then I wonder why I am surprised. For thousands of years, we have feared, hated, and demonized women’s erotic, sexual nature: Think Lilith, Adam’s first wife who was cast out because she had a sexual appetite. Note that Eve is punished by God for eating the apple. Her punishment is that she and all women will suffer with the pain of childbirth – which is a direct result of sexual intercourse. During The Inquisition when women burned alive, accused of having sex with the Devil. The Virgin Mary – pure and holy because she never had sex. And the current practice of mutilating girl’s genitals to prevent “illicit” sexual activities as they mature. (According to the World Health Organization, today, 140 million girls and women worldwide are victims of genital mutilation. Read more ) No wonder so many woman struggle in relationship to their sexuality. While I understand that this tide has gained momentum for century upon century, I find myself inspired to make some small effort toward change. Uncovering Desire is my response to this phenomenon. One small group at a time, we gather as women to reclaim our bodies, our passions and our life force.

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