Do Female Orgasms Belong At SXSW?

Virginia Heffernan

The female orgasm--a phrase that should be in French--was the subject of an ecstatic, wild-eyed lecture at South by Southwest Friday evening. Nicole Daedone, statuesque blonde, quoter of Joseph Campbell and Buckminster Fuller, haver of one-touch 30-minute orgasms, was our rapturous host; the audience was putty in her hands. One of us, it seems, even came.

Daedone runs a center called OM that gets people to practice a practice that turns them into practitioners. The practice seems to be masturbation, but the word is never used. (Info on OM and The Practice can be found here at The good news is that some time with The Practice can make us all more loving, more connected and less vulnerable to trauma and addiction. The bad news is that only The Practice yields the real, right kind of oxytocin shock-and-awe orgasm. In general we ain't, as they say on Twitter, hitting it right.

Daedone cites much legitimizing kinda-science (the women's-mag phrase "limbic system"; iffy conclusions drawn from sparkling fMRIs) even if what she's describing is works better in a religious sociocultural frame. That framework is Buddhist, coupled with the modern yoga-girl's infatuation with India and the personal liberation that its aesthetic suggests.

She did get very orgasms-save-the-worldish, and talked about how we should all create a limbic Internet and each become highly orgasmic routers in it. In the end, the sexy breathlessness of her delivery suggested a Jill Bolte-Taylor cover act. But it was hard to see why the talk was at SXSW Interactive and not at, say, Burning Man.

In short, the Daedone way seems to be to give mindfulness meditation and tantra an orgasm focus because orgasms help shut down the cerebral cortex and make us kinder and more chill. Sounds OK. But also a little off. Meditation can be an astonishing spiritual practice, with health benefits, but even the Buddhist community at Triangle Magazine has cautioned against mapping too much science onto it. You don't want to sit for an hour with your breath because you read a study about it. There have to be other, grander and more personal reasons. Same as sex.