Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sexuality and the Jewish Orthodox Woman

First, I was alerted by Gefen to this book

The Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy by Jennie Rosenfeld and David S. Ribner

which has this from a review:

This book surprised me with its clear and thorough explanations considering it was written by and intended for the conservative and ultra-conservative Torah-observant Jewish community. Even though the text itself is without illustrative photos and diagrams, there is a modest packet of explicit drawings tucked into a sealed envelope attached to the inside back cover. As befits a book intended for a chaste and conservative audience, there is a label on that packet warning of its explicit nature...This small book contains useful information that not only provides practical advice about techniques and mechanics, but also nurtures a sensitivity that will benefit both sexual partners.

There are the necessary basics: where things are and how they work; but there is also a strong emphasis on the need for patience and clear communication. To that end, the authors address issues that most people never consider, but which are necessary for an active, fulfilling sex life...this small book is not one to skirt vital issues: how sex smells, sounds, and feels for both the male and female; how to deal with unrealistic expectations; and, lack or orgasm as well as how to maximize orgasmic potential. There is a straightforward discussion of lubrication, how to deal with the constricts of religious observation as it applies to sex, causes of impotence, sex during and after pregnancy and how external pressure can affect a couple's sex life amongst other issues.

and now, Emily Amrousi writes about another book. "Touching Distance," by Naomi Wolfson, a psychotherapist and couples counselor who lives in the settlement of Psagot, she is a mother of eight who covers her hair with a scarf. She has co-authored (with her daughter!) a tasteful yet bold book about sexual intimacy and pleasure. (A previous book is reviewed here)

And Emily relates of her meeting/session:

The sex act, from a Jewish point of view, Wolfson begins without blinking, is not intended merely to fulfill the commandment of "be fruitful and multiply." It is also supposed to give pleasure...Any consensual act between a couple is halachically permissible, she boldly writes, and any act that boosts mutual desire and satisfaction is a blessing. "Distance leads to touching and longing leads to pleasure. Restrictions help you miss your partner and intensifies the passion," she says, and we all lower our eyes to the cookies.

"We are all women, we all want love, we all menstruate, we all have sexuality," says Wolfson in a steady, experienced voice, encouraging us to look up again. "Judaism is responsive to women and gives us space so that on certain days of the month we don't need a filing cabinet of excuses like 'I have a headache,' and can just curl up under the covers or with a good book." We laugh. The ice is broken.

"Then comes passion and the desire to be together. Impurity is not dirtiness, but absence of life. The mikveh is the culmination of a woman's private, internal process. I immerse in primordial waters, feel renewed and then come to my partner full of vitality, energy and sexuality."

What was taking place in that room was not a reform but a revolution...

Truly so.


No comments: