Transformational Pleasure

By Melissa Fritchle LMFT Holistic Sex Therapist and Educator

Your Shocked Outrage is Pissing Me Off

There are simply too many thoughts and feelings to express in regards to the recently released 2005 video of Trump and Billy Bush sexually harassing and hideously objectifying women. I frankly need to vent for a few more hours in private before I can offer something helpful to the conversation. But here is one aspect of the commentary about it that I want to address right now.

It is time that people stop saying, in regards to a woman being sexually victimized in any way, that she is deserving of protection because she is someone’s daughter, mother, sister, wife. Really? Really???!!! How about because she is a human being?! How about she is deserving of respect and personal rights by virtue of her existence?

This statement comes out so commonly after public instances of sexual abuse that we really need to finally call it out. If this is the best you can do in finding a reason to support women’s rights to personal safety, you are part of the problem. (To see what I am referring to watch the wonderful John Oliver’s monologue on this common response).

We need to acknowledge that the foundation of this statement is the fact that women were for centuries considered property of their fathers, husbands, or in some cases, brothers – MEN who were, by virtue of being male, deserving of respect. So to call out the relatives of a women as the reason we should protect her is drawing on the historic stance that women, on their own, do not have rights. “Don’t be upset for the pain and humiliation this caused the woman herself, but think about the pain it caused her respectable relatives”. We need to surround the woman with non-sexualized family members to consider her with compassion.

And let’s break that down, shall we? The underlying stance in this is that a sexual woman is not, on her own, deserving of protection or respect. We need to see her through the non-sexualizing eyes of her relatives to see her as worthy of human decency. If a woman is seen as sexual, we can’t expect men to control themselves around her -  there she is with her attractive legs, ass, breasts, right there for us to see. Maybe if we can mask her sexuality in our minds by relating her to a non-sexual role (daughter, mother, sister), then we can see her as something other than an object of sexual desire. Because if we perceive her as an object of sexual desire then we automatically erase some of her personal rights to respect and safety. Do you see how messed up this is?!!

This system that has established a woman’s sexuality as an excuse to violate her rights is harmful to all of us. It continues to reverberate throughout our culture in many ways. Here it is in front of our faces, yet again. What will we all choose to do about it? When will we finally understand that women’s sexuality is not bad, immoral, an open invitation, a joke, a tease, a deficit, a manipulation, a sin, a toy, a taunt, a sign of weakness, a red mark, an embarrassment, a target, or a prize – a woman’s sexuality is a natural, healthy part of who she is and is hers to express or not.

Don’t protect me from sexual assault or harassment because you think my father or mother don’t deserve to have their daughter violated. Protect me from sexual assault because you respect me and believe I am deserving of protection. Because I am a human being.

 …Oh, and if you are really truly shocked that men like Trump and Bush are out there acting like this with very few consequences, you haven’t been listening to women. But that is another post.


Dear Medical Doctors -

Here are a few ways I wish we could be more in agreement when it comes to sex.

1)The vast majority of your patients are having sex. And it is important to them. At least as important to many of them as their ability to play tennis or go for a jump shot or pick up their grandkids. So, since this is the reality, maybe you could include sexual health and satisfaction as a part of your wellness check? Maybe you could get comfortable talking to people about this aspect of their lives? At least don’t dismiss it or shame your patients for having concerns.

2)Most of the sex people will have in their life is not about procreation. We are having sex for many years of our lives and for many of reasons. Reproducing is a small part of only some of our sex lives. So treating reproductive health as though it is the same a sexual health is severely lacking. Issues such as long term birth control, hormone balance, sexual desire, pleasure and comfort are crucial to address.

3)Most medical concerns and their treatments have some effect on people’s sex lives. The diseases you diagnose take their toll on people’s sexual expression and can create real limitations. The drugs you prescribe can have significant sexual side effects that your patients’ may struggle with. The sexual aspects of Self are not separate from the medical concerns a person has or the journey they may need to take for healing. Please consider these aspects of your patients when you talk to us about treatment.

4)A large percentage of your patients are not heterosexual or monogamously married with children or clearly placed in some simplistic gender binary. For example, consistently statistics suggest that approximately 10% of the population is bisexual, lesbian or gay. I suspect that this number is low and reflects both a narrow categorization of sexual identity and also a long history of repression and fear of discrimination. But even if it was only 10%, denying the unique needs or rights of this group of people in our communities is discrimination plain and simple. And it is medically irresponsible. Get yourself informed.

5)You have blindspots and biases like the rest of us. We don’t expect you to be perfect so please don’t expect that of yourself. You most likely grew up with the same cultural models and mythologies as we did. You probably had very little accurate sex education. You probably have been hurt, betrayed, embarrassed, and confused about things, like the rest of us. So let’s agree that your years of medical school did not erase the limitations to your sexual perspective or understanding. That’s ok. You are allowed to not have all the answers, just acknowledge that and we can work with you from there.

6)Your job is to give us information so that we can make informed choices, not to make choices for us. No matter how much medical experience or training you have, you cannot know more than your patient does about the potential consequences and benefits of a decision in their life. Help us to understand our options, then honor that the personal factors at play on our lives are hugely relevant and frankly, outside of your scope. Respect what we know about our life.

Sincere thanks for all you do. Let’s grow in sexual health together.