Author and journalist Stephanie Theobald talks to DIVA about her “orgasmic roadtrip” across the US
Sex Drive is a memoir about desire and pleasure, merging sexuality and spirituality, 18th century porn, Enlightenment philosophy and female masturbation.
It begins when author and journalist Stephanie Theobald attends an amazing “masturbation masterclass” in New York run by an 87-year-old 1970s feminist called Betty Dodson. The class sparks something in Stephanie and leads to her taking a road trip across America in search of her lost sex drive:
“There are eleven women stark naked in a room in a New York apartment. Ten of us are lying with our legs spread, a metal dildo in our vagina, a purring vibrator on our clitoris and our left hands stroking our breasts which glisten with almond oil. ‘Your left hand is your lover,’ the naked 87-year-old lady barks as she patrols the room with her own massive vibrator that sounds like a cement mixer and resembles an old fashioned kitchen device.”
DIVA took the chance to ask author, Theobald, a couple of questions on the “new female sexual revolution”.
DIVA: Do you think we are having a sexual revolution renaissance?
STEPHANIE THEOBALD: Yes, we are seeing the beginnings of a second sexual revolution – and this time round it’s for women. Women got the pill in the 1960s, but nobody cared about if they were having orgasms or not. Signs of a new change in sexual outlook include OMGyes.com, the site championed by actress Emma Watson, which talks about specific techniques women use in order to come. Until now, the only funded large-scale sex research has, incredibly, either been biological (the physiology of what happens in the body during sex) or behavioral (the percentage of women who, say, masturbate or use vibrators). Also we’re starting to see articles about the actual physiology of the clitoris. It’s about the same size as the penis only most of the tissue is internal (although it has 8000 nerve endings compared to 4000 in a penis. Ladies, we have Lamborghinis – men have bicycles). This was first officially discovered in the early 1980s when LA-based activist-artist Suzann Gage, while looking for images of the clitoris to illustrate a book, found that her best information came from medical textbooks of the 1800s when anatomical drawings were done from cadavers. Last year, I wrote a story for the Guardian about the world’s first open-source, anatomically correct, printable 3D clitoris. It still shocks me that this stuff is only just starting to come out.
How does female sexual empowerment relate to feminism in your mind?
It’s simple. If you can’t connect with your body and tune into your emotional side, you can’t enter fully into your power as a woman. I like the new, so-called “Fourth Wave Feminism” which is much more body-focused. One woman I interviewed for Sex Drive, a motivational speaker and author called Regena Thomashauer, recommends getting up every morning, dancing naked in your bedroom to one angry song, followed by one sexy song and then, with that whirling dervish energy stirred up, to go into the office and sock it to them! I think a lot of the current talk about “female empowerment” that corporations feel compelled to give as more women enter traditionally male-dominated areas, is just lip-service. The minute you talk about female bodies and the importance of feelings to a lot of corporate heads they freak out. But scandals like the Harvey Weinstein affair will push our culture increasingly in the direction of letting women call the shots.
Edgy, honest and energetic, Sex Drive reveals what happens when a woman takes time out to listen to her body …and now you can help make it a reality.
Pledging is a way of pre-ordering and supporting Sex Drive. Notable supporters so far include Annie Sprinkle, Stella Duffy, the original 1990s lesbian “sexpert” Susie Bright, feminist art iconoclast Sarah Lucas and former French Vogue Editor-in-Chief, Carine Roitfeld. On giving Roitfeld one of the Sex Drive bronze clitorises she said instinctively, “Yes, it is the symbol of female strength, n’est-ce pas?”
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