By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
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By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
The Lower East Side chicks from Toys in Babeland hosted a big bash a few weeks ago at the feisty dyke club Meow Mix to celebrate the National Masturbate-a-Thon. That's rightinstead of walking or running, participants gathered pledges and collected cash for each minute they spent pleasuring themselves. All proceeds from this jack- and jill-off fest and the finish-line party went to From Our Streets With Dignity (FROST'D), a nonprofit that provides health and social services to one of the hardest-working and most overlooked groups of womensex workers on New York City's streets. As a Toys in Babeland consultant, I had the honor as mistress of ceremonies to welcome local performers, who each did their part to applaud all the folks who "came for a cause."
The evening's festivities culminated with the Fraggle Rock House Band's tribute to songs about self-loving, and I found myself on the dance floor sandwiched between slices of sexy, sweaty, horny girls. As the band belted out a Joan Jett song ("Do you wanna touch? Yeah! Do you wanna touch? Yeah! Do you wanna touch me there? Where?") girls were bumping and grinding with gusto. Strangers rubbed their drenched bodies up against mine, fingers stroked my flesh from every direction. It was a wild, wild night.
Although I was riding the high that came with the knowledge (and firsthand experience) that sex in the city is thriving, my spirits were slightly dampened when I picked up the recent Newsweek with the "Science of Women's Sexuality" cover. Next to a photo of a woman in the throes of passion are the words "Searching for the Female Viagra: Is It a Mind or Body Problem?" Fueled by the success of Viagra in treating male sexual dysfunction, scientists have turned to the sexual problems of women. But what promised to be an informative article turned out to be a muddled mess that reinforced just how little scientists know about women and sex. I found it especially telling that the report was written by a man.
The bad news is that in the most recent study of the effects of the super blue pill on women, Viagra was no more successful than a placebo in women with a wide variety of sexual dysfunction symptoms. We've given all the men supercharged erections, but haven't had any luck when it comes to women's erotic woes. I am tempted to say: Who needs Viagra when we've got Meow Mix? But the truth is that 40 percent of American women experience some form of sexual dysfunction. It's actually a bigger problem than it is for men (30 percent suffer from some form of dysfunction), and yet all the money and research has focused on the boys. In part, this is typical of a misogynist industry that has always geared research toward males. But there is another reason that the fairer sex has again gotten the short end of the stick: Men's sexual problems (including erectile dysfunction) just seem much easier to solve than the complex, layered issues surrounding women's sexual dysfunction.
Concerned that medication I was taking was diminishing my libido, I queried my doctor about it. He asked if I could still get turned on and come, to which I replied yes, but I was worried that my sex drive had nearly disappeared. "If you can achieve orgasm, then there is no sexual dysfunction." Gee thanks, doc. I tried to explain that if Tom Cruise walked in with his flight jacket from Top Gun, a freshly shaved asshole, and a raging hard-on, I just wouldn't feel anything. Even if Nicole Kidman joined himwith a huge strap-on between her legs, nipples perked up like mini-torpedoes, and a double-ended vibrator with unlimited juicestill nothing. Now, if neither member of this supercouplenor bothcan get my juices flowing, well, something's wrong. Isn't it? According to this doctor (and plenty of others), no.
The doctor's dismissal of my problem is symptomatic of a medical industry that not only is clueless about women's sexual dysfunction, but barely knows what's going on with female sexual function. The truth is, there are many different forms of female sexual dysfunction. Some women have little or no desire to have sex. Others have trouble getting aroused or can't get turned on at all. Others cannot achieve orgasm, and others experience pain during sex. Some women have a combination of these symptoms. For me, while on this medication, after we got into it and I had my tongue on Tom's butthole and Nic's slim fingers in my pussy, I'd get into the groove and shoot my load. I'd just have trouble getting revved up in the first place.
On the subject of the Big O, the Newsweekarticle gets even more infuriating. Pondering the evolutionary benefits of the female orgasm, a pull quote teases"One possible theory: orgasms in women have no function and are just a developmental vestige, like male nipples." First of all, why are we wasting time, money, and column width on debating the importance or necessity of the female orgasm? It's just more misogynist bullshit, if you ask me. (And on the subject of male nipples, try telling all the men who appreciate having theirs tweaked and squeezed and clamped that they have no function.)