Allegheny College's Ford Memorial Chapel - ‘educational seminar' (21 February 2013) ...item 4.. Upcoming Sexuality Workshop -- Friday, March 1, 2013 at Harvard University, School of Graduate Arts & Sciences.  ...

(via marsmett Tallahassee, flickr CC)

You might instead rather call it something other than ‘Art’, even if perhaps a ‘healing art’, but the originator says that the practice was partially inspired by her past involvement with Zen.  The practioners simply call it ‘OM’.  I’m not quite sure yet what I’d call it, so…I’m easy.

Ten days ago, my internet provider had a Denver Post link to this subject on the front page, reckoning that it needed to show me that it knew I am a Coloradan, and who knows what other demographic potential they may have inferred, the brazen bastards.  Curious, I clicked in, watched the video, and read about

“…the Orgasmic Meditation TurnON event, a PG-13 evening of playful conversation around topics “that we mostly only consider having in our head (sic). The event is designed as an icebreaker before the OM Basics training course.’  It is apparently held every Wednesday in Boulder, CO, and is for singles and couples over 21.”

You might wonder why they’ve rated it PG-13; I couldn’t possibly say….
Aimee Heckel writing for the Boulder Daily Camera, reports that in Colorado alone, over 400 people have been trained in the practice, the hot hub being the People’s Republic of Boulder.

She describes it this way:

‘You can find OM circles every morning in Boulder. At 7:30 a.m. at a private office space in Boulder, Gibbert joins as many as 20 people, who set up pillows and blankets in a circle and go through two rounds of vagina-stroking, sometimes with a complete stranger.

OM, as it’s called for short, is deliberate and structured, and many participants consider it more a form of meditation than a sexual act — at least in the traditional definition that’s prevalent in modern America.

In an OM circle, the women drop their pants and another person — trained, and wearing a latex glove with lube — strokes each woman’s clitoris in a very specific way for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, both parties share a quick highlight of the experience and go on their way. No intercourse. No dinner and drinks. No story. No romance. No relationship. No obligations whatsoever, not even to be friends. Just sensation.’

They say that the ‘sensation’ isn’t just limited to orgasm, per se, but any sensations that arise.  One woman is quoted as saying that it takes ‘commerce’ out of the equation, as there are no promises or expectations of anything in the future, no quid pro quos, thus reducing ‘performance anxiety’. That reminded me a bit of Erica Jong’s Zipless Fuck notion that was hailed in the feminist movement by many: sex unencumbered by a desire for any further relationship by either partner, iirc.

Many of the women in the OM groups say they were freed from their former orgasmic-free lives, and report feeling more ‘whole’, ‘free’, ‘connected’, and having had their deeper psychic wounds healed.

Let’s watch the Daily Camera’s video at the top of the accompanying article.  It isn’t on youtube, so you can watch it here.   Not that it matters a lot, but I was curious to hear the way they pronounce ‘clitorus’ in most of the OM videos; apparently this is so: Americans say KLIT-uh-rus, while in England, most people say kli-TORE-us; I’ll take the British way, and always have, as it has a grace that the US one lacks entirely.

But I digress.

When I first watched the video and read about the OM groups and circles, it was hard not to consider a few things about the ‘meditation’ that the originator says was inspired by her Zen history.  One is that we are told by many in other nations that Americans are very messed up about sex, although I can imagine that certain cultures within the country…aren’t.

The second thing was that the practice was so incredibly clinical and impersonal, not solely limited to the latex gloves, lubricant and technical aspects, but seems to be predominantly about orgasmic release,  which was sincerely discouraged in Victorian times (‘Close your eyes, and think of England!).  The result of that was horrendous for women, both in terms of the diagnosis hysteria, which organ was thought to cause all manner of nervousness, anxiety, craziness, irritability, but sometimes even caused women to be institutionalized, or even forced to undergo hysterectomies.  Take that, you ‘wandering wombs!  No orgasms allowed, not women!

At some point, physicians began to use electric or mechanical masturbatory machines to treat the associated conditions, such as the steam powered one shown here.  As the author points out, since ‘hysteria’ was a recurring condition, many treatments were…required.  The same page tells of the first-generation electrical vibrators that saved wear and tear on the physicians, plus made them quite popular and sought after…

And color me cranky, but OM felt bit too much like that to me.  Believe me, I wouldn’t begin to begrudge women orgasms, including self-pleasuring, but as the subject popped into my awareness over time, a lot of considerations took shape.  For instance, I wondered about the men who came to TurnOns, and if they were truly satisfied by helping complete strangers to achieve orgasm, given the no return rules.  No, you won’t find me quipping about ‘always depending on the kindness of strangers’, nosirree, but are they there to learn, or simply sincerely altruistic in providing their assistance?  The women claimed there was some non-sexual human connection established, but it’s hard for me to see.

Mightn’t we also wonder whether women are permitted to stroke women or not? Only fully-clothed ‘men’ were ever mentioned as the helpmates in the practice.

By now, I’m of course wondering what you think, feel, about any or all of this sort of meditation, say the impersonal nature of stranger-stroking as opposed to the importance to you of a strong human connection at least akin to love that has created enough trust that might enable one to surrender oneself to a deeper orgasm, the blending of hearts, souls and bodies in which one loses oneself in glorious letting go and experiencing moments of…perfection.

When I went hunting for further teaching videos from OM and OneTaste©: Powered by Orgasm™, the ‘parent organization’, I did discover this rather graphic one, featuring a couple, who seem to indicate they may be their own sole OM friends, as in couples, hinting that couples may practice and enjoy this ‘art’ as well .  From OneTaste©:

Like Vitamin C, Orgasm is a nutrient that has been missing from the standard human diet for centuries. Our vision for the future is that one day very soon everyone who wants it will have full access to the technology of Orgasmic Meditation. And through OM, all of us will have access to the enjoyment of Orgasm. Through orgasm, we’ll be fully restored to our natural human state: the state of connection.’

The website lists many benefits.  The founder, Nicole Daedone, gave a talk about OM and ‘slow sex’ at TEDxSF in 2011; you can watch it here as she describes ‘the hunger for orgasm’ in so many women being finally sated and changing one’s life immeasurably for the better hrough the ‘meditation’.  Eventually, I did wonder about the participants not knowing that there are differences between kliTORal and vaginal orgasms, but perhaps that’s just one quibble too far…

Given the fact that we are indeed sexual beings, and that counter to conventional wisdom, even many of the ‘elderly’ still engage in sex, as well as tweens increasingly, you might to know who does what with whom, how they do it, and at what ages.  In a diary from 2010, I covered some parts of the then new ‘2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior’.  It was the first such study since the Kinsey Report sixty years earlier, and it included this easy graph showing some of the research team’s discoveries.  One bit that I’d clipped from the report concerned this about orgasms:

‘There are some interesting results, including these teasers. You’ll read a section that has to do with sexual perceptions; in this case, the difference noted when men and women were asked if they had experienced orgasm in their most recent sexual event. 85% of men reported that their partners had achieved orgasm, as opposed to the 64% of women who reported experiencing them. I just thought I’d point out the…er…perceptual variations by males; 21% may not be enormous, but it’s significant, nonetheless. Please feel free to write your own jokes; I’ll desist for now, but it will cost me.’

But in honor of the notion of slow sex, perhaps even meditative…albeit it’s not being gender neutral:

 

 

(cross-posted at Cafe-Babylon.net)