Most heterosexual love scenes in movies follow a familiar pattern. There are one or two minutes of foreplay--just enough time for the camera to focus on a few key, well-lit female body parts. The perfunctory kissing and petting are followed by a few minutes of intercourse. The woman thrashes and moans as the man thrusts away. She climaxes loudly at the same time as her mate. Cut to the next scene.
It's a far cry from the experience of real-life women who have orgasms on a regular basis, say sisters Lisa and Marcia Douglass. The two were discussing the subject on the phone a few years ago when they decided to write a book to set the record straight. "We were scratching our heads and saying, that's not how I have sex, that's not how sex looks to me," says Lisa Douglass, an anthropologist who is married and lives on the north side. "It's an activity that we know doesn't make women have orgasms." A more accurate portrayal would show a lot more foreplay-- what the two call clittage, or manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris--and a lot less emphasis on penetration.
In their new book, Are We Having Fun Yet? The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Sex, Douglass and her sister Marcia, an Oakland-based sociologist, expand the definition of sex to give manual stimulation of female body parts equal or higher billing than penetration. They point out why couples would get more out of sex if they employed a "ladies first" approach to climax. They provide vocabulary and diagrams designed to help women show their mates how to make that concept a reality, referring to similarities between male and female anatomy. They also take to task a male-centric sexual culture that doesn't teach women how to please themselves.
"If you're taught that you should be able to have an orgasm with intercourse and you want your partner to give you oral or manual stimulation for orgasm, you may feel like there's something wrong with you," says Douglass. "Women are overcoming that, and men are beginning to understand it. But it's time to get the whole sexual culture moving toward that understanding."
Lisa Douglass will discuss her book at 7:15 Tuesday at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark; admission is free. Call 773-769-9299. --Cara Jepsen
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lisa Douglass photo by Nathan Mandell.