As part of her 2011 Feel Good Challenge (I’m not sure what that is and I’m equally sure it doesn’t matter), Oprah referenced an article from her own O Magazine, “12 Simple Ways to Have Better Sex“. (Don’t bother clicking over. If you’re reading this blog, you can already think of 12 better ideas.)
Like most articles of this ilk in the mainstream press, “better sex” means heterocentric, man-pleasing sex. The kind women presumably have to work on getting in the mood for. (The kind I would really have to work to get in the mood for.)
It was item number 12 on the list that caught my eye:
Masturbate at least once this month. If there’s any one thing you can do to enjoy sex (aside from getting shipwrecked with an absolute heartthrob), this is it. “Have a glass of wine if you need help getting in the mood,” suggests Alice Domar, PhD, director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Boston IVF and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
Oh. My. Goddess. How many more denigrating female myths can be perpetuated in one short paragraph?
Apparently the editors of O Magazine believe that women don’t have a regular urge to masturbate, have to loosen up with alcohol in order to touch themselves, and have no sexual agency, only responding to “heartthrob” partners. (I bet the O editors never pictured that “heartthrob” as a big ol’ butch dyke daddy.)
Of all of these, I think the most damaging embedded myth is that women’s sexual responsiveness is a gift from the right partner.
Oprah needs to have a little heart-to-heart with Gossip Girl teen star Taylor Momsen. Last July, Momsen created quite a stir when a reporter from Disorder magazine asked about her dating life:
She also grins when asked if she’s single, and replies that she is, that she’s not into guys, waits a beat, then adds she’s not gay but just bored of men and her best friend is her vibrator.
Hideously convoluted run-on sentence aside, the big scandal among teen-obsessed media quickly became then-16-year-old Momsen’s vibrator. Apparently it’s okay for a vice-presidential candidate’s 17-year-old to be pregnant, but not okay for another teen to pleasure herself.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Momsen explains:
“I’m a promoter of masturbation,” she says loudly… “Don’t sleep around – learn yourself first! Guys do, but girls don’t. And that’s why girls have so many bad experiences. But you can know your body, know yourself, know what feels good. You don’t have to give yourself away just to have sexual relevance. Because I don’t think sex is something people should be afraid of. It’s part of human nature, so I don’t think it should be so shameful – particularly for girls and young girls.”
Out of the mouths of babes, Taylor Momsen!
Oprah needs to grow up sexually. I’ve written many times about the confused (and probably closeted) sexual image she puts forth. But her own image is one thing, perpetuating a reduced, restrained, male-dominated female sexuality is another. Oprah heads up a media empire. Women deserve better sexual information than the pallid view of female sexuality she’s serving up.
After all, O Magazine may come once a month, but women deserve their own Os with much more frequency than that.