A woman emailed me and said that she ran a small publishing house and was interested in my ghostwriting a chapter for a book being edited by the woman who edits the Dalai Lama.
“The Dalai Lama needs me as a ghostwriter? “ I asked, tempted, but also puzzled. “On what subject?”
“On the ways in which women can and do hurt each other.”
“The Dalai Lama wants me on this subject?”
Perhaps that was the lure, the bait; it certainly got my attention. But no, this anthology was not being written by the Dalai Lama but it was being edited by the woman who has edited his works.
I then asked to see the list of the other chapters and the names of their authors before I would make a commitment of any kind.
The publisher used the name of a very eminent and principled feminist as the woman who told her that she had to reach out to me—and only me. If such a woman was our go-between, my every guard was way down. (I have since contacted her. She said that she’d been cold-called by this woman, who must have carefully researched her—and that she had, in fact, recommended me as the best feminist on this subject).
This publisher wrote me thirteen times and called me four times all within seven days. She set up a zoom meeting with two other women on the seventh day—the editor, and the author whom she mainly published. The publisher praised my work and said she was also interested in publishing my Collected Feminist Works. Oh my. What writer can resist such words! But, I know enough to have asked whether she thought that a new, small, press could truly market and distribute such a Collection. She told me that they had twenty editors hard at work and specialists in social media.
Reader: I was already hooked a wee bit.
The publisher did say that they’d been accused of “being prostitutes.”
I laughed and said: “Oh, that’s pro forma when a woman talks truth to power. Next, they call you a dyke, a madwoman, and a witch and then they burn your books; if they can, they burn you.”
I honestly thought she was talking about just such anti-feminist denigration. I did not, for one minute, think that whatever work they were doing (which their main author called “Orgasm Meditation”) had anything to do with prostitution. After all, I knew the late Betty Dodson, the late Sher Hite, and the late Dell Williams, as well as the pioneering work of Ann Koedt, all of whom were concerned with women’s sexual pleasure; with masturbation, the importance of the clitoris, lesbian sexuality, heterosexuality; and with women’s overcoming naiveté and shame about our genitalia.
Also, I recently read an excellent book by Rachel E. Gross, Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage, which was quite eye-opening. Feminists have every right to share information about our sexuality, orgasm, and female genitalia.
And so I joined a Zoom call with two other women. At some level, I thought: “Why two women? Are they going to love bomb me?”
And that’s exactly what they did. Two charming women referred to me as a “rock star of feminism” and we talked about my book, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman. They wanted me to distill this information for their anthology, give the history of it. I said that I was not a historian nor was I a self-help writer or even a guide-to kind of writer; that my work has been heavy-duty radically feminist intellectual and political work. At least I hoped so.
They made me feel as if my work was loved and wanted.
All three women were exceedingly well-spoken. The founder of this “wellness” through orgasm movement, grew up in California and was blonde, cheerful, and engaging. I half-read a chapter she’d written, ostensibly for this anthology, which was far too light-weight for me—but I thought: Ah, California, Hollywood, celebrities, gurus, money, don’t be a spoilsport, go with the flow. Maybe this could help radical feminism reach Silicon Valley and the coming generations.
Why not? Hilaria Baldwin once contacted me to discuss Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, a book she said she believed could change the world. She’d underlined nearly every line, and she was going to feature it on Instagram, Tik Tok, and God knows where else. My former, young, assistant was so excited, that a real-life celebrity was contacting me, that she begged to be allowed to hear our conversation. Those plans didn't end up panning out.
And so, I had very recently experienced how excited young people can get when a celebrity praises one’s work. Who knows? In this crazy world, maybe this could actually work.
Still, a niggling little instinct left me with doubts, compelling me to check them out further—and oh my!
The author, herself, (who I'm choosing not to name) can be found posing in pictures with actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow and feminist Naomi Wolf (among others). A profile in LA Magazine says she has influenced Khloe Kardashian.
But the organization, OneTaste, which promotes the practice of "Orgasm Meditation," has also been mired in scandal. The group is accused of being a cult for money (classes range from $195 for an intro workshop to $16,000 for "certified coach" training, according to LA Magazine).
The reasons why the group may be accused of prostitution started to become more clear. Allegedly, the OM "workshops" expose desperately eager women to a practice in which men paid money to lightly stroke each woman’s clitoris for 15 minutes—and perhaps, then move on to the next women—or to full heterosexual intercourse. According to the Daily Mail:
“She founded OneTaste in 2004, packaging orgasmic meditation in a palatable format and by 2009 was on the cover of The New York Times’ Style section. Daedone wrote a guide to orgasmic meditation, Slow Sex:the art and craft of the female orgasm, in 2012. In 2017, the company made $12 million in revenue."
Vanity Fair named the founder in its list of “Twelve Women Who Changed the Way We Look at Sex’ and around 900,000 people have viewed her TEDx talk, entitled “Orgasm, the Cure for Hunger in Western Woman.”
The goal of Orgasm Meditation (OM) is, supposedly, to help women achieve wellness through light clitoral stimulation in group settings—and only with men.
The founder of this movement or cult (depending on who you ask) claims that these charges are all “false.” She told me she was Zooming with me from London where she’d gone to fight the “false” media against her.
Oh, yes, the FBI apparently investigated her as well. And the BBC has also launched a podcast about Orgasm Meditation titled, “The Orgasm Cult.”
Look, the FBI once investigated me, too, back in the mid-1980s, for helping mothers run away with their incestuously assaulted children. So I would not automatically view any woman as “guilty” merely because she was being investigated. But there were enough other red flags.
As soon as I read these articles, I emailed the publisher and said that I could not be associated with such a “movement.”
“But I told you that we had been accused of being prostitutes” she immediately said.
Yes, women get falsely accused all the time. On the off chance we're all wrong and this group and its founder have been falsely maligned, I don't wish to be a part of further damning their reputation.
But my gut told me that this was, at best, a cult, a scam for money, and at worst, a way for many men to have paid access to many women’s clitorises or vaginas or, for all I know, their mouths and anuses as well.
I decided to share this experience lest another unsuspecting feminist gets called by someone from this group, perhaps in a late-in-the-day bid to sanitize their reputation by linking up with a real, honest-to-God radical feminist.
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