Politically Correct Sex (For Women)

While it's perfectly all right for men to "masturbate," women doing approximately the same thing are now "cultivating" themselves?
01/22/2008 02:08pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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A confession: I do not watch the Oprah Winfrey show. I can't receive it at home in France, and when I'm wintering in Florida it never occurs to me to turn it on.

Obviously, I'm missing something. And I missed something important last week: Oprah's discussion with Dr. Christiane Northrup about female

Sorry -- I meant to say female self-cultivation. Because, while it's perfectly all right for men to "masturbate," women doing approximately the same thing are now "cultivating" themselves, according to the good doctor.

This sounds like more than political correctness: It's smarmy Victorian prudery combined with post-Freudian egomania.

When men get horny, they can jerk off. Why can't women? Can you imagine any man you know saying that he "cultivated" himself?

Dr. Northrup further complicates the subject by advising women to take 30 minutes three times a week to "self-cultivate." Okay -- when do you do it? During your lunch break, before the kids come home from school, while dinner is simmering on the stove, after hubby has fallen asleep on the couch? Most likely, you're already doing 30 minutes on the treadmill, or 20 minutes of Pilates, or 10 minutes of deep breathing....and now you need an hour and a half a week to discover and develop your erogenous zones?

There seems to be some confusion here, and it comes from the fact that Dr. Northrup is lumping together three distinct issues: Knowing what turns you on, doing what turns you on, and getting it off.

For most women (and many men, too) candlelight, good music, a good meal, a little wine, are almost sure-fire aphrodisiacs. An erotic film or book, provocative conversation, suggestive clothing and heady scents can get the hormones moving, too. Those are the stimuli, the ingredients. You know very well what works for you. (And sometimes a new ingredient will delightfully surprise you!)

Doing what turns you on -- or having someone do it to you -- is the second issue. It's what we used to call foreplay, but Dr. Northrup has turned it into self-examination because we're doing it to ourselves. Are we really so ignorant and ashamed of our erogenous zones? When there is nobody around to nuzzle our neck, lick our ear, or stroke our back, don't we know how to massage our own breasts and tummy and groin?

Getting it off is where we want to end up, sooner or later, and Dr. Northrup makes it very much later. She doesn't acknowledge that sometimes women, like men, are simply hyped-up or stressed-out and need a quick fix to release the tension. To hell with candlelight and to hell with foreplay. Bring on the dildo and the vibrator.

"Self-cultivation" is another example of how we love to complicate the simple facts of life. Just as good nutrition has been subverted and obfuscated by innumerable diet plans and theories, so too has sex. These pseudo-sciences are not making our lives happier or easier -- they are just confounding the issues and wasting our time, and making money for the self-appointed "experts."

Werner Erhard, the founder of est, said it best: When you're hot you're hot, when you're not you're not. It's as simple as that.