Might as well blog the book as I go along…
I’m now at Chapter 4 which, I’m told, is the start of the “relevant scientific research” part of the book. Also, the entire rest of the book is apparently all about “relevant scientific research.” This makes me happy.
I’ve discovered the best way not to be annoyed by the spiritual wawa stuff is just ignore it. Between every chapter has been a subchapter dedicated entirely to “Wisdom of the ages” where she explores various religious aspects of sex without orgasm. I just skip them entirely. Since one the basic purposes of religion, IMO, is to explain things that are otherwise unexplainable, these sections aren’t that interesting to me. Again, I’m not saying there is no value in reading what ancient people thought about this stuff, but I don’t care to read it any more than I’d care to read what the Catholic church was teaching in the 14th Century about astronomy.
The other thing I’d really ding her on is her overuse of anecdote. The book is filled with these little stories about people whose lives were all kittywampus but, following their abstinence from orgasm, suddenly found nirvana. She oversells the positive impact of denial. I know it can be a force for good in a relationship, but it’s not magic and it won’t do your dishes for you. For example, this is from her husband and co-author from, I believe, his journal:
I’ve seen big changes in other aspects of my life, too. My finances are sorting themselves out, and my professional life is expanding in directions I’d always wanted it to—but was unable to take it before. The opportunities continue to flow to me effortlessly and work out great. I have a lot more confidence in myself. I’m calm and focused. And I’m now comfortable with being in a partnership instead of seeing myself as a separate entity who happens to be involved with someone at the same time. I’m much more optimistic about relationships.
The part about being in a partnership as opposed to seeing yourself as a separate entity and the development of general optimism about your relationship? Yes. Fucking hell, yes. Of course, no matter what we do, I will always be a separate entity, but my relationship with Belle feels more like a partnership now than ever and I’m happier being in the relationship with her than I ever have been (excepting, perhaps, at its very beginning — which fits into the book’s premise perfectly).
But. Finances sorting themselves out? Professional life expanding? Confidence? All because you’re not coming anymore? As a guy who doesn’t come anymore, I’m not sure how those things are connected. Also, calm and focus is not something I get from denial. There’s a zen to it, but I wouldn’t go so far to say it makes me calm and focused.
That being said, I do get their enthusiasm for denial (I’m not calling it Karezza because we don’t do that). I have often felt genuinely so enthusiastic myself that I’ve wondered, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” It’s the best fucking thing. And, truth be told, I do think a whole lot of relationships would be benefited by denial. However, I don’t think I’d ever be so presumptuous as to tell people if they only stopped coming they’d win the PowerBall and their teeth will get whiter. Because, as the author points out, we are wired to crave orgasm. Saying we should ignore those cravings for a pot of gold on the other side of the denial rainbow is a hard sell. It just feels wrong. Also, I’m firmly of the opinion that the changes to brain chemistry brought on by extended orgasm denial create feelings of enthusiasm for the practice not unlike those the religious faithful feel when espousing their beliefs.
An example of that (and the over-reliance of anecdote) can be found in this extended passage. Forget for a second we’re talking about sexual practices and instead are talking about Scientology while you read it.
A friend brought an appealing young man to a party at my home. Lars was a gifted graphic designer, sensitive, sincere, courteous, and somewhat shy. He was accompanied by a polite, and much older, woman. I didn’t realize they were lovers.
A few weeks later the friend who had brought them both to my house showed up again. He was shattered; Lars was dead.
Apparently Lars had only been with the woman a few months. And during that time he’d experienced periods of utterly uncharacteristic, violent behavior. For example, he got into fights in bars and had even been threatened with arrest. My friend, who had known Lars’s whole family for years, also talked with his lover after Lars’s death. She told him Lars had become sexually aggressive. The night of his death the woman had refused to participate. She went into another room to lie down. He came in later, sat on top of her, and demanded that she make love. She said no. He pulled a gun from behind his back and shot himself in the head.
Now, it’s possible that there was no link whatsoever between his emotional-behavioral deterioration and his sex life. It was clear to me, though, that some sort of severe imbalance certainly corresponded with the period of their intimacy. Deeply affected by this tragedy, I made a solemn promise never to use my seductiveness to put a lover at risk. I was also committed to discussing the careful management of sexual energy with anyone who showed the least curiosity.
Get that? Orgasm might leads to violent, suicidal behavior. The implications are clear. Save a life: Stop coming. Also, apparently, don’t be sexy. Have you heard the Good News?
While I fear I may be coming off as overly harsh, I still do have high hopes the promise of sciency stuff will redeem the book for me. I’m still not even a quarter of the way through.