Notes from the presentation by Dr. Elizabeth Rae Larson at the WR SSSS meeting in April, 2008
Dr. Larson asked the same three questions of each of these modern sexual revolutionaries; here are their replies.
How would you describe (or illustrate) your contribution to our current understanding of female sexuality, in the scientific/scholarly world(s) and/or in the broader culture(s)?
My work shows the importance of clitoral stimulation for female orgasm, via in-depth research. It was the first work, and still remains one of the only works, to detail in women's own words, how they masturbate to reach orgasm. For most women, this does not involve vaginal penetration, but rather massaging without stopping the clitoral area or pubic area of their external genitals with their hand. I believe this should be integrated into the "lovemaking" process, in that partners should learn from women how they do it (since each woman is individual). My research report shows that the great majority of women--over 92%--know how to reach orgasm in private, so the supposed "problem" women have with orgasm lies merely in sharing this information with partners; it is the society that has the problem, not women. Masters and Johnson showed first that "all orgasms in women are clitoral," yet they later (in Human Sexual Inadequacy) outlined their treatment program saying they believed that women should get sufficient clitoral stimulation for orgasm from "vaginal thrusting"--yet my research a few years later showed that this is not the case for most women. Indeed, my work showed/shows that almost all women can easily reach orgasm via a more "direct" gentle clitoral massage. My conclusion is that women should not fear expressing themselves in this way sexually, that women have the right to be sexual in their own way.
What impact has your work had on your own life/career, positively or negatively?
I have learned how differently my work is seen in various parts of the world, i.e., how differently sex is viewed in various cultures. In some cultures, "penetration" is viewed as more important to men than in others. The success of my 1976 book (part of the women's movement) may have led many magazines "for women" to scream in headlines that they offer information about female orgasm, so that today we are mostly overfed with this hyped sensationalism. To me, this is the wrong direction for women's liberation, as the hype does a disservice to women and men. In...