I recently read and reviewed the book Shameless by Pamela Madsen (see my blog Book Review: Shameless by Pamela Madsen). The best description of this comes from Amazon’s own overview of the book:
At 43 years old, Pamela Madsen was happily married to the man she fell in love with at 17. She was the mother of two sons and had a successful career as a nationally known advocate for fertility issues. But she felt a growing sexual restlessness and yearning that wouldn’t let up. And though Pamela loved her husband and didn’t want to have an affair, she knew deep down that she needed more, much more. In Shameless, she tells the story of how she found it—and not only kept her marriage intact but made it stronger than ever.
In this fearless memoir, Pamela tells the story of her search for sexual, personal, and spiritual wholeness. She explores, in riveting detail, what she experienced at the hands of sexual healers, men who brought her untold pleasure (and became her close friends in the process).
But this is not just another sex book: Shameless is also an account of how Pamela’s journey healed her issues with food and body image and most important, helped her weave the many roles that she played—daughter, friend, partner, mother—into one fully integrated person. It is a story about a woman falling in love with herself and a call to other women to do the same.
I’ve seen video clips of Pamela at various speaking engagements and I’ve read comments from readers. Most are quite laudatory calling her honest, brave, an example to emulate. In other words, the reception has been very positive. I must admit that I bought the book because I was curious about just how far Pamela went in this sexual journey. In chapter nine Pamela gets a massage from Markus, who seems to be gay by the way.
He may have spent most of his professional time on men, but Markus knew exactly how and where to touch me. Between breaths, I noticed that my mind had stopped nattering and I was in a trance of rapture. It crowded out everything else. I had no idea something like this was possible without actually making love.
Oh shit. I had an orgasm with someone other than my husband. It was unbearably exciting and unimaginably intense. I was shocked … Who was this man? How could I have such a private moment with a stranger?
Pamela had an “erotic massage”. She paid this gentleman. This man made her have an orgasm. I’m not making a comment; I’m making an observation. In my book review, I link to a YouTube video of Pamela speaking called Does Receiving Pleasure Make Me a “Bad Person?” in which she responds to criticism. “I’ve had people say to me that I’m a bad person. Now you know Hitler was a bad person. I had an erotic massage.”
Canada had a federal election on Monday, May 2, 2011. The Conservatives lead by Stephen Harper won and the National Democrat Party lead by Jack Layton became the official opposition.
On Friday, April 29, 2011, The Toronto Sun newspaper published an article reporting that Jack Layton was found in a “suspected” bawdy house in 1996 having a massage. The information came from an “anonymous” ex-cop who apparently violated police rules by disclosing this information to the reporter.
It turns out that Mr. Layton was unaware of anything nefarious going on in this establishment. In fact, his wife helped him select this particular massage clinic. Mr. Layton was not charged with anything and the police who discovered him in a massage room, reported that Mr. Layton was in fact just getting a massage, nothing else. Layton was warned about possible criminal activity at this particular clinic and he never went back. The police explained that this massage parlour like others were under investigation for being a bawdy houses, known as rub and tug places.
Nevertheless, there was a bit of a stink in the press about the release of this information as it was clearly aimed at smearing Mr. Layton’s reputation just days before the federal election. See my article “Jack Layton went to a massage parlour. So what?” (Oye! Times, Apr 30/2011).
A curious perspective
Pamela Madsen had an “erotic massage”. People laud what she did. If Jack Layton had in fact been having an “erotic massage” when the police arrived, he would have been charged with a criminal offense, fined, and would have ended up with a police record. His name could very well have been published in the newspapers in a list of “Johns” and he would have been vilified for participating in such sexual activity. A charge like that could have very well changed the course of his career. Even if it didn’t, who knows how those charges, if true, would have swayed the voters in the election.
Now I’m sure people are going to immediately jump on the differences between the stories. A man going for a “rub and tug” is going to a prostitute and prostitution is illegal, seedy, and just morally wrong. Pamela on the other hand was on an uplifting journey for sexual, personal, and spiritual wholeness that not only kept her marriage intact but made it stronger than ever.
Pamela was brought to orgasm by a paid man who was not her husband. A man getting a rub and tug is being brought to orgasm by a paid woman who is not his wife. The former is praised, the latter is condemned. Both arrive nevertheless at the same thing: a “happy ending“.
Why have an erotic massage?
Pamela went out on a personal quest to satisfy growing sexual restlessness and yearning. Along the way, she had some orgasms. A man goes out on a personal quest to satisfy a sexual restlessness by having some orgasms.
In case you haven’t guessed, I am finding these two stories curiously similar. There are differences, but many similarities. And in comparing the two stories, I think I’m comparing men and women, the way they think, and possibly the traditional roles they have in our society.
Are women in touch with their sexuality?
In my blog Sex Ed: Betty Dodson: educator, author, pro-sex feminist, I discover that Ms. Dodson is widely known as a pioneer in women’s sexual liberation and her fame has come from both advocating masturbation and conducting workshops for more than 30 years where groups of women would talk, explore their own bodies, and masturbate together.
Michael Castleman, a journalist, describes Dodson’s start as a sex educator in this 2002 article, Too sexy for her rocker:
Dodson made her first splash as a sex educator in 1973 at the National Organization for Women’s first conference devoted to sex. Before an audience of more than 1,000 women Dodson, then 43, presented a slide show entitled “Creating an Esthetic for the Female Genitals.” People were not sure what to expect. She clicked the first slide, a close-up of the well-groomed vulva of one of the 15 friends who’d posed naked, legs spread, genitals wide open for her. The audience gasped. “All our lives,” Dodson proclaimed, “we’ve been led to believe that our c**ts are nasty, ugly, smelly, and shameful. But I’m here to show the world how beautiful they are.”
The audience was shocked. Some booed when Dodson used the word “c**t.” But she pressed on, promoting her view that women’s genitals are a joy to behold. As the slide show progressed, the heckling died down. At the end of Dodson’s performance, the audience gave her a standing ovation.
That presentation certified Dodson as a sex educator to be reckoned with. She made more heads turn the next day with a workshop called “Electric Vibrators for Masturbation.” Those appearances launched Dodson on a 25-year-long career producing weekend workshops around the world, bringing her message of assertive self-loving to thousands of women. Her motto is: How we make love to ourselves determines what we bring to partner sex.
If all of this seems unusual or crazy, my posting includes emails posted on Dodson’s web site from women asking her for help because they have never been able to have an orgasm. I am 27 years old, never had an orgasm. I’m married 5 years with 2 kids.
27 years old? Married 5 years? 2 kids? Never had an orgasm? Who knew?
Are women in touch with their sexuality? Pamela Madsen was 43 years old, married for years, and a mother of two children, but suddenly felt she needed to “go out there” and find herself sexually.
Pamela good, man bad
I’m sure you’re going to be saying to yourself that as a man, I don’t get it. Pamela wrote a book; she was open and honest, and her objectives were noble for herself personally and for her marriage. All sisters do a fist pump and yell, “Right on!” I return to the original premise. Pamela went out and had an erotic massage and while you may feel that the word “erotic” may have overtones of something good, sexual but good – better overtones than the expression “rub and tug” – I would remind you that the final result was the same. She had an orgasm at the hands of a paid man who was not her husband. Now switch the sexes and think about the same idea. Man has an orgasm at the hands of a paid woman who is not his wife.
I could go on and on raising issues about Pamela Madsen and Jack Layton, but I’m going to leave it here and come back in another article to continue the analysis. To recap so far:
Pamela Madsen, author, mother, wife, and sexual explorer has an erotic massage (several actually) and now gives talks about it and according to her web site provides a “Sexuality Life Coaching Service“. As I read about this service, I can’t help thinking of Betty Dodson and her instruction of other women about getting in touch with their own sexuality.
Jack Layton did not have an erotic massage, but if he had been, his life today would be much, much different than it is.
What’s good for the goose may not always be good for the gander?
Wikipedia: Massage Palor
A massage parlor is a business where customers can receive a massage. Sometimes the term is synonymous with brothel as the term “massage” may be used as a euphemism for paid sexual favours.
In countries and regions, particularly where brothels are illegal, massage parlours (as well as saunas, spas or similar establishments) may be fronts for places of prostitution. Illegal brothels disguised as massage parlours are common in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and many other countries.
Alternatively the massage may have a “happy ending”, meaning that it ends with the client being masturbated, thus providing a light version of prostitution.
However, not all massage parlors are involved in prostitution.
Wikipedia: Erotic massage
Erotic massage or sensuous massage is the use of massage techniques to achieve or enhance sexual arousal. Massages have been used for medical purposes for a very long time. Its use for erotic purposes also has a long history. Today it is used by some couples on occasions as part of lovemaking, either as foreplay or as the final sex act. Erotic massages typically feature massages in erogenous zones of the body to increase sexual arousal.
Urban Dictionary: rub and tug
A name for a Massage parlor or place in which after the massage is given, it is ended with a hand job. aka Happy Ending.
Wikipedia: Happy Ending
The expression “happy ending” is a colloquial term for the practice of a masseuse to offer sexual release to a client.
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