Photographs & Interviews
by Linda Troeller and Marion Schneider
188 pages, Illustrated
Book Review by Kam Williams
“Due to the repression and shame imposed by patriarchy, we are still at the onset of exploration of female sexuality and eroticism. Not only does this book reveal the power, divinity, originality and necessity of female orgasm, but by giving women agency and voice regarding their sexuality, it becomes a deeply erotic work in itself.
Each woman, a brave sex artist mapping a landscape of pleasure, explosion and mythic delight. The project makes it clear that orgasms not only liberate women’s lives, but can save the world as well.
This book is an orgasm.”
-- Eve Ensler (page 69)
Given America’s Puritanical cultural roots, it’s no surprise that it’s considered déclassé even to mention the female orgasm in polite society. Sure, we might have all laughed at an exasperated Teri Garr joking in the movie Tootsie that “I’m responsible for my orgasm!” Or at that hilarious deli scene from When Harry Met Sally where a matronly patron told her waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having,” after watching Meg Ryan climax while eating a sandwich at an adjoining table.
But other than such humorous asides, the climax is rarely the topic of casual conversation let alone of serious clinical examination. Now, thanks to photographer Linda Troeller and historian Marion Schneider, who in 1998 published “The Erotic Lives of Women,” we have a groundbreaking book blowing the sheets off (pun very much intended) the taboo subject.
For this collaboration the pair found 25 women of every age and ethnicity and from countries as far apart as Holland, France, Israel, Germany, Colombia, Portugal and the United States who were willing to be photographed while answering questions about a most intimate aspect of their sex lives. They were all asked to recount their first and their most powerful orgasms, as well as their greatest fantasies and what orgasms mean to them.
The responses varied wildly. Co-author Marion describes hers as “the building up of energy focused on a certain point: my vagina” where “the energy buildup becomes so great that… it needs to discharge into the universe.” By contrast, Dragonfly, an African-American, sees hers as “a pleasurable reflex, much like a sneeze or a hiccup, or when you jerk your knee when the doctor hits it with the hammer.” Keren from Israel defines hers as “the release of tension… related to some kind of emotional overflow” after which she feels both “clearer” and “emotionally cleansed.”
An eye-opening project that plunges with abandon into the deep chasm of sexual freedom and sexual identity.
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