|Fossil Angel- Cameron|
Sex, Drugs & Magick: Prelude, Ice Maiden: The Story of Jane
I'm not sure I feel comfortable writing about frigidity. I am familiar with the concept, but I am unsure that it is or was anything more than a result of the psychological war our society wages against female sexuality. It is significant to me that "Jane's" story closes with her writing for magazines aligned with the nascent Women's Liberation movement.
...I think it has been almost two weeks since I wrote the previous paragraph. I apologize. My profession has a the delightful (irritating) proviso that one must continue their education (waste time you don't have) to keep you license. I just finished a gauntlet of "streamlined" classes that left little time left for anything aside from light reading and being with my family in the evenings. I am now able to breathe a bit and I am back. In class, we just finished our Higgs-centric unit and I suggest checking out his latest newsletter that seemed like a fitting coda for my qualms, this time around.
Two weeks does give one time to think, even when there isn't much time to think and I thought to ask my lovely wife, who is conveniently female, a historian and a therapist, about her ideas about so-called "frigidity." This is an approximation of our conversation:
Frigidity surprisingly does exist as a diagnosis anymore, but under a different name in the DSM-V; it is now deemed "female sexual interest/desire disorder." Hilariously, this and its male counterpart "male hypoactive sexual desire disorder" (interesting that terms are different, no?) include what we would today call asexuality and cheating on a partner. I wondered if frigidity could have been caused by underdiagnoses of endometriosis, pelvic inflammation or other conditions that cause sex to be painful. That ended with a "maybe" and a discussion of vaginismus. I have been under the impression that vaginismus mostly occurs in religious communities and it seems that the data would back that impression up. Therefore I'd wage a lot of "frigid" women were merely warped by their repressive, nigh-criminal upbringings.
I wanted to ask about anorgasmia which I was interested in for two reasons: one) I had a hunch that it didn't truly exist and two) I share Wilson's impression of parties who haven't had an orgasm as having been unlucky in the lover lottery. (Can you imagine the amount of men that were knowledgeable about women's pleasure in the fifties/sixties?) It seems that, cases of nerve damage and medication excepted, anorgasmia is almost entirely due to what are, in my opinion, easily identifiable psychological traumas. I'm not saying that periods of decreased sexual interest or decreased orgasms are a reason to rush to the doctor, but if they should persist (for more than four hours) one should probably consider checking in with a professional.
But Jane didn't have that option, given that she was a woman in the mid-twentieth century. How many competent doctors could there have been at the time; one should remember this was shortly after the fad of living room lobotomies for depressed housewives.
One of the greatest charms of these semi-fictionalized mini-biographies is that we get glimpses into a younger Wilson's life and thoughts. As I have contemplated Wilson's life in relation to my own many times, however drastically dissimilar they were/are, I can't help but see some reflections in the story. When I was younger, I met a waitress where I worked who was addicted to heroin. Because I was visibly hippieish at the time, she believed I had access to LSD. I didn't and hadn't tried "Leary's panacea" at that point. She desperately wanted to try acid as she believed it would be the trigger to cure her addiction. I don't remember ever hearing if she ever found LSD, so I don't know the results of her experience. I've known a few people whose lives were revolutionize the first time they tried Hoffman's problem child, but it never seemed to last. It would wear off surprisingly quickly after a couple weeks of elation and revelation...a few times I can remember it led to much more bitter worldviews than that of the pre-trip personality. I also don't think the profound physiological addiction of heroin works that way. I do hope she found some safety and peace.
The first couple time I read this book, I took these anecdotes as solemn warnings where almost every character seemed like a pathetic nut who ends up worse than they were before. I'm not sure I see Jane's story as something like that now; instead, it seems to be an account of a human dealing with life in the way that many humans do that has a happy-enough ending. Jane was born into a world that was hostile towards her in many ways and rose to prominence in a field so misogynistic, they made an award-winning show about it. No wonder she was all bothered without being able to get hot. Good for her for jumping in on the future, even if she didn't get paid. Perhaps the sixties were the last time money truly didn't have to matter. I will say this, my wife got the final word on the tale: "maybe don't fuck a teenager, though."