Lecture Topics

Invite Rebecca to speak at your school or to your group!

A Walking Tour Through the Clitoris:  This presentation provides a surprising in depth look at women’s genital anatomy, revealing that what is almost universally though of as a pea-sized nubbin is, in reality, a powerful, responsive organ system.  The presentation begins at conception, showing that until two months of gestation, the female and male genitals appear to be female, and that in order for males to have a feature, especially the prostate, the female template must have the potential for it.  Further, it reveals that both female and male fetuses masturbate in the uterus, showing that as our first human “activity,” masturbation, is more natural than breathing!  This detailed exploration identifies the visible parts of the clitoral system, the parts that cannot be seen, but can be felt, and finally the parts that can’t be seen or felt.  We will also investigate how these genital structures work together to produce pleasure and orgasm, why, for some women, orgasm may be illusive, and if, in fact, there is a G spot.

The Case of the Missing Clitoris:  An Anatomical Detective Story. This lavishly illustrated presentation begins with the ancient Greeks and the Renaissance anatomists who understood that women and men had similar genital anatomy, only arranged differently.  The medievals effectively suppressed anatomical study, but it emerged with a flourish in the Renaissance, when the first anatomical illustrations were done and illustrious anatomists engaged in a turf war over “discovery” of the clitoris.  The villains in this little anatomical whodunnit are the Enlightenment philosophs who defined menstruation and pregnancy as pathologies that disabled women from participating in civic life, and parts of the clitoris began to go missing in anatomical illustrations.  By Victorian times the clitoris had become an anatomical nonentity and orgasm had been banished from women’s sexual repertory.  One Dr. Freud is the hit man who declared that the clitoris was nothing more than “a pile of pine shavings useful to set a log of harder wood on fire,” and in the long shadow that he cast over the twentieth century, women’s genitals lost features and function in anatomical texts.  The sleuths who picked up the trail of the missing clitoris include an eminent historian, two intrepid sociologists, some inquiring feminists, and finally a curious doctor.  Collectively their work has brought the definition of the clitoris up to modern anatomical standards for other organ systems.  An accurate understanding of women’s genital anatomy could help obstetricians and surgeons avoid cutting sensory nerves during childbirth, hysterectomies and other gynecological surgeries.  And it is essential in countering the general assumption that women’s sexuality is less passionate, less compelling, less rewarding than men’s.

The Pleasure Revolution: Feminist sexuality activism after 1968 created a dynamic, profound, and far-reaching shift in sexual values and practices thatrecast the heteronormative, androcentric paradigm of the 1960s sexual revolution to include the sexual needs, interests, problems, and preferences of women.  I name this movement “The Pleasure Revolution”.  In this profound tectonic shift, feminists critiqued Freud, wrote subversive novels and sex advice books, became publishers and founded their own magazine, popularized masturbation, demanded respect for lesbians, opened their own sex shops, did their own sex surveys, rehabilitated the clitoris, explored BDSM, made “cunt art,” created their own erotica, and in the process, reinvented sex for women and their partners!  I identify more than 50 individuals and groups who created this revolution as “pleasure activists.”  This presentation describes the work of these activists, evaluates the revolutionary impact of their work and surveys its expressions today.  Yet inexplicably, a feminist sexual revolution has not been acknowledged by feminist scholars or historians of feminism and sexuality.  I examine reasons that this revolution has not been recognized.  The recognition of this feminist sexual revolution can fill a gaping lacuna in feminist scholarship and it can provide a model for new activist strategies that seem essential in maintaining bodily integrity in the face of the increasing pornification of our culture and pervasive exploitation of women’s bodies and sexuality for profit.