This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Playgirl.
It's surprising, to say the least. In a world where many consider feminism passe—where you can purchase a vibrator or dildo just as easily as you can a pair of shoes—roughly one-third of all women have never experienced an orgasm. In 2014, a half-century after the so-called sexual revolution, women are still very much strangers to their own bodies. Unable to access our own innate sexual energy, we allow sexuality to be equated with promiscuity, ejaculation with penises, and sex itself with intercourse and penetration.
Armed with disturbing sexual data and determined to unlock the key to feminine sexual energy, Catherine Oxenberg (“Dynasty”, “Acapulco H.E.A.T.”, the soon-to-be released Sleeping Beauty) and Gabrielle Anwar (“Burn Notice”, Scent of a Woman) sought out sexual experts, tantric masters, researchers, and everyday women to create a documentary and website devoted to the discussion of female sexuality and the revelation of feminism's greatest potential.
Sexology launched its website in January (sexology.com), which features full-length, uncut interviews from the documentary and resources such as films and literature to educate and entertain on topics of other-worldly sexual experiences. The Sexology documentary film, edited by two-time Oscar-nominated editor for The King's Speech and American Beauty, Tariq Anwar (also Gabrielle Anwar's father), is scheduled for release this summer.
We sat down with Catherine Oxenberg to get her take on the state of female sexuality, her own sexual journey, and the story of how this daughter to a Yugoslavian princess, actress, and sex symbol came to be the poster woman for women harnessing their innate sexual power.
PLAYGIRL: Why do you feel, in 2013, that the world needs a documentary about vaginas, female orgasms, and achieving one's “deepest bliss”?
CATHERINE Oxenberg: Quite simply, why wouldn't we? Sexual energy is nothing more than life force. Once one learns to harness this energy intelligently, one has access to an infinite wellspring of vitality, joy, and a sense of inner coherence and well-being. Stress and exhaustion are replaced with effortlessness and ease. In the words of Dr. William Masters [preeminent gynecologist and senior member of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team], "Sex is unchartered territory...no one knows anything about sex." Sadly, more than 60 years later, not much has changed. Sexual illiteracy is still rampant. We still have no idea what our bodies are capable of, and how mastery of bodies can bring one the deepest sense of purpose, fulfillment, confidence, and joy.
What about this project has resonated with you on a personal level?
Everything. This project is my personal journey of discovery. On one hand, I believed that i had a great sex life. On the other hand, I had a persistent, nagging belief that there was supposed to be something more. When I first experienced my entire body as orgasmic, it completely changed my reality. I experienced countless orgasms from every part of my body: fingers, hand, nose, mouth, upper palate, heart... Literally, my genitals could retire. It made the concept of "multi-orgasmic" seem comical. I looked back at my history of short-lasting, tension clitoral orgasms and they seemed like junk food. Extended, deep states of pleasure were rewiring and healing my nervous system. It occurred to me that orgasmic energy was meant to be cultivated, harnessed, and channeled; not just for recreational purposes, but for health, prosperity, vitality, radiance, anti-aging, purpose, alignment, joy, passion, and creativity. This revelation had such a profound effect on me, that I had to share this with the world. I wanted to shout from turrets and rooftops: "We have not been using this incredible resource correctly!"
Regardless of how much success i had in other areas of my life, I was always plagued by a persistent belief that i was defective in some way because i could rarely achieve orgasm during penetration. I now understand that there was nothing wrong with my hardware; there had only been a glitch in my software. That problem was correctable. All women are fully orgasmic, they just don't know it yet. Ultimately, through our research, we have discovered that a woman does not even need sex to experience her full orgasmic potential. We are orgasmic beings: “orgasmicness” is an expression of “bursting with the fulness of life”. We just need to be given permission to surrender to our truest essence. We need to know it is okay to feel pleasure. Every single woman who has accompanied me on this journey has had similar, extraordinary, life-changing breakthroughs.
In what ways will your work on this project change the way you view your own sexuality?
I had been treating my body with about as much finesse as a chimpanzee banging a tambourine; when in fact, I am—we all are—a Stradivarius violin. A highly refined instrument, capable of playing the most complex symphonies; not just a one-note wonder. I am ashamed to admit that i knew so little about my network of arousal and my own anatomy.
Of all you've learned doing these interviews, what has been the most shocking?
So many things! One, how little is known about female sexuality and the female genitals. Two, that ejaculation and orgasm are two separate reflexes for men and women. The four-phase androcentric sexual model (developed by Masters and Johnson) ending in male ejaculation (conveniently) is ass-backwards because sex is not linear!
Women are the ones who are supposed to ejaculate (frequently!)—not men! The Taoists say, “You should never sail up a rocky river." This means don't enter a woman until she has ejaculated! Merely being wet is not enough to gain entrance! Three, men can learn to have full-bodied orgasms without ejaculating every time, which means sex does not have to end so quickly—and the guy does not have to pass out in a post-coital coma. The biggest problem for men is that their their sexual energy ends up being localized in their genitals. Finding ways to move sexual energy into their hearts allows them to experience what it is like to make love versus having sex. This is something most women take for granted. Four, most women suffer from vaginal numbness. Once we heal that, the landscape of our vaginas becomes radically different; extremely sensitive, responsive, and alive. We traveled around the world, finding all the best, most effective techniques for genital massage. And five, I learned that friction fucking is passe. Those pumping pornographic demonstrations that most young men attempt to replicate on us mere mortals, are in fact damaging to our sensitive genitals—and theirs! Our sexual skills seem to have been bypassed by evolution; remaining as base and rudimentary as a caveman maniacally rubbing two pieces of flints to spark a flame. It is time to refine our skills. A full 76 percent of women admit to faking orgasm at some point, yet no man I have met admits that any woman he's been with has faked it. All you ladies, stop faking! Our men will never learn what pleases us if we keep pretending!
What one major thing do you feel women are missing out on about their own sexuality?
To know how good it feels to be in a woman's body. This is probably the one thing I am most passionate about. Most of us have no idea that we are a playground of heavenly delights. In fact, our power comes from our ability to generate insanely delicious states of physical ecstasy in our bodies. When we feel good, our outlook seems rosier, we become juicer, we move through the world with greater confidence and wholeness. But let me clarify: This is not about being promiscuous. This is about being in an intimate relationship with your feminine essence. One of the healers we interviewed said, "Men have muscle power and women have sexual power." Sexual power is creative power. Women need to recognize this. When we cut off our connection to our sexual energy, it is like trying to run a car without putting gas in the engine. We restrict our ability to impact the world. Perhaps this is traditionally why men have been more successful. They did not shut down their genital generators. They somehow knew how to keep this impulse fanned. Maybe not always in the healthiest ways, but it might have been better than shutting it off, like most women do.
Why do you suppose so many women are out of touch with their own bodies and sexuality?
Probably from centuries of being burned at the stake as witches for opening their legs. I can imagine that this might have been a deterrent to exploring sexuality in a healthy way. Historically, women's bodies have been stigmatized, their libidos demonized. Even today, we are burdened by the stigma that good girls don't and sluts do. Women have suffered from sexual deprivation since the beginning of civilization. Hysteria—a medical term until the 1950's—was the most prevalent diagnosis for women from the time of Plato (who coined the term). The cure for hysteria was to be sent to a doctor who would stimulate the woman's genitals until she achieved a “hysterical paroxysm”. These women were sent to a doctor because their husbands felt it was too time-consuming and burdensome to relieve their wives themselves. Today, "Female Sexual Dysfunction", or "Female Sexual Arousal Disorder" has replaced the diagnosis of "hysteria", but our bodies are still being pathologized. Ladies, we do not have a dysfunction! It just comes down to a lack of understanding of our inner-workings.
You've spent your career in the world of television and movies. How do you think Hollywood has affected women's senses of their own sexuality, bodies, and sex in general?
For the most part, the way sex has been portrayed in the media perpetuates the same old antiquated myths. Instant mutual climax is one of my favorites! There is hope though, with recent films like The Sessions. I am curious to see Lars Von Trier's film, Nymphomaniac.
How do you expect Sexology to be received by the public?
I hope people will be as curious as i was, and continue to be, as my landscape of possibility just keeps on expanding. I hope men and women are ready to expand their sexual repertoires beyond grade-school education and monochromatic porn. Sex really is the final frontier!
How do you like being on the other side of the camera as a producer?
I absolutely love it! I have never had so much fun in my entire life!
Be sure to check out Sexology's website at sexology.com. Get more Catherine at oxenberg.me. And stay tuned for the documentary film, featuring an interview with Playgirl's own Editor-in-Chief, Nicole Caldwell.