It isn’t often that you hear the words “Dallas-based author” and “ultimate orgasm” in the same sentence, but for Jenny Block, that’s just life. Her first book, Open, a book about “sex within the context of open marriage,” thrust Block into the world of “sexperts.” From there, she became a speaker on sex-positive issues, and has since penned O Wow, a book that promises to help women “find their ultimate orgasm.”
When Block first began researching O Wow, she had to decide to fully throw herself into the study of the female orgasm. “When you start to write a book or an article, you start to wonder if you’re really an expert. If I was going to be the “orgasm girl,” what does that look like,” says Block. “I googled Betty Dodson, and I thought it would be so cool to meet her, and then I realized that she was still hosting Bodysex workshops. It cost $1200, and I thought that there was no way I could do that on my writer’s budget.”
For the uninitiated, Betty Dodson is a legendary feminist sex educator, whose entire mission in life is to help women have better orgasms. Since the 1970s, Dodson has been hosting these Bodysex workshops, in which groups of women learn to masturbate together, in the same room. “She’s 85 years old, and she’s still doing these workshops in the same Madison Avenue apartment where she was hosting swingers parties in the 1970s. I knew I had to do it,” says Block. “So I called my dad, and he’s not some Texas oil man, just a rabbi and regular dad, and he said that he’d already put the money into my account, because I had to go masturbate with Betty Dodson.
Block calls her experience, detailed vividly in O Wow, one of the most “life-altering” moments of her life, and not just because of the earth-shattering orgasm that she experienced in Dodson’s workshop. From there, Block set out to write a book that would dispel the terrible, outdated myths that women hear about their own orgasms, including one factoid that came from her own publisher. “My publisher says to me, “did you know that there are fifteen different kinds of orgasms? Look into that and see if there’s a book there,” says Block. “I started doing the research and realized that not only are there not fifteen different kinds of orgasm, there is only one kind of orgasm that comes from way more than fifteen places, and no one is talking about it.”
As Block not-so-subtly puts it, the average sex life of a heterosexual couple isn’t exactly enthralling for women. In fact, it’s often pretty bad. At least 20% of women — and that number is likely much higher — report having never experienced an orgasm of any kind, a fact that doesn’t surprise Jenny Block one bit. “We’re all walking around pretending that you just put a penis in a vagina and then magic happens,” says Block. “We are having procreative sex, sex designed just for making babies, for recreation. Only half of the attendees at the party are having a good time, and that just doesn’t seem fair to me.”
As for her own sexuality, Block now identifies as a “old-school, wish there was a gold star, boring lesbian,” but over the course of her life has had a variety of sexual partners of all genders. “I’ve had good sex with men, and I’ve had shitty sex with men,” she says. “Focusing on the female orgasm is actually good news for men because you don’t have to worry about being bad in bed. It’s not your fault, you didn’t know. If girls are faking it, and movies are telling you the wrong way to do it, how the heck would you know how to make someone come?”
In that, Block highlights a particularly important point in the world of female sexuality — the fact that it has been long neglected by science, dating back to the days when a woman’s doctor would masturbate her with a rudimentary vibrator to treat “hysteria.” Until the 1980s, the clitoris, the only organ on any human body created only for pleasure, was barely even acknowledged in medical literature. As such, she’s not surprised that so many men (and women!) have no idea how to make a woman have an orgasm. “The men that I’ve shared this information with have said that I’m their hero,” Block says with pride. “I wrote about facilitating female orgasm on Playboy.com and it was their #1 story for a week. Good guys care about female orgasms.”
She also notes that the ideas that men have been fed about female sexuality isn’t exactly helping them get their partners off. “Women think that you sometimes have to choose between a good lay and a good guy. And that’s because we’ve told boys that they’re not supposed to ask us to touch ourselves or ask us what we like,” says Block. “All that shit that tells us that women are frigid, that they don’t want it as much as men do comes from bad sex. Why would you want to have sex with someone who climbs on top of you, goes in and out a few times, and then falls asleep. That is literally being treated like a sex toy.”
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Also discarded in the book is the notion that women are somehow at fault for their “lack of desire.” Low sex drive, or hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is the most commonly reported sexual dysfunction among women, and Block is not surprised. “To blame women for a lack of female desire is stupid, because we don’t address female desire,” she says. “We say that women don’t like sex because we’re not having sex that pleasures them. There are secrets that everyone has been keeping from you, guys. It’s called the clit, get to it.”
As an exhibitor at this weekend’s eXXXotica Expo, Block also calls bullshit on the puritanical response to the Expo from Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings and the Dallas Women’s Foundation. When she attended the Adult Video News Awards, the “Oscars of porn,” a few years ago, Block recalls not being able to tell the difference between attendees at the porn awards, and the thousands of people that flooded into Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. “There were men from all walks of life there that waited four or five hours in line to see their favorite porn star, and when they met, say, Jessie Jane, they were crying and telling her how much they loved her,” says Block. “I thought, “you jack off to her! She makes movies showing her stuff, and you’re crying about it. It was surreal.”
Despite her own love of porn, Block does caution against pretending that what happens in pornographic films is in any way a representation of sex in real life. She calls it “sexertainment,” and views porn much in the way that many of us would view sitcoms or fiction novels — it’s entertainment, not an educational experience, and exactly why she’s decided to be the “regular girl’s” orgasm expert. “Most of the books written about orgasms are written by porn stars and sexperts,” she says. “That’s great, but my audience is the regular girl. The girl who is sleeping with girls or boys and just wants to be having the best orgasms she can have.
This weekend, Block leads a seminar based on the principles and techniques in O Wow at eXXXotica, which will help educate female and male attendees on how to give their partners (or themselves!) the best orgasm possible, and to help destigmatize the idea that women want to have sex — and have orgasms — just as much as men. “I want to call bullshit on everything — bullshit on porn’s expectations, bullshit on the religion nonsense. Everybody is fucking. And I think everyone should be fucking as well as possible. That’s my whole message.”