PDF Masters of Sex: PDF

by Thomas Maier

after reading masters of sex, i am totally charmed by virgina johnson. for whatever reason, i always thought she was a stiff old doc like bill masters. but i was wrong. some notes:

—seated on a leather lounge chair, a woman, naked except for a pillowcase over her head, rubbed the outside of her vulva with a long, plexiglas penis. attached to a small camera with a plate glass optical eye, this “motor powered phallus” could produce high-quality color-motion photographs. sensors fixed to various parts of the woman’s body recorded her heart rate, electrical impulses of her brain, and nearly every other kind of measurement conceivable. nearby sat researchers william h. masters and virginia johnson along with their staff, all clad in white cotton lab coats. when the woman slipped the dildo inside her vagina and climaxed, she allowed researchers a sustained, precise look at her flushed, contracting vagina. over the next few years this basic experiment would be repeated with hundreds of women. the findings proved explosive: the female orgasm in absolute physiological detail.

—a celebrated obstetrician and fertility specialist with a tenured position at washington university, bill masters began his sex research in 1955. during the next twenty-one months, he interviewed 118 female and 28 male sex workers in st. louis and other cities, meticulously recording their sexual and medical histories. he soon began observing the prostitutes with their clients. he stared on, stunned. unlike nearly every other MD in his field, masters made a crucial admittance: he knew next to nothing about female sexuality, or even, the most basic physiological facts of fucking itself.

—by 1956 masters had moved his studies into the controlled settings of a laboratory. with the help of a few bulky machines, he began his earliest inquiries into the female sexual response. however, the course of his research changed radically when a female participant asked him "what if I fake it?" masters blinked, said flatly, “i don’t know what you mean.” after months of watching prostitutes, it had simply never occurred to him. the woman tried explain: “that’s what I do for a living, i fake orgasms to hurry up and get the man to come...” he remained dumbfounded, and within months, hired his first and only female research assistant.

—the first time virgina johnson saw a penis was in the backseat of a 1941 plymouth. it was also the first time she had sex. “i didn’t know anything about anything,” she recalled. when she began singing on army bases at age eighteen, she experimented with different men, many men. “i had an active interest in sex,” she explained, “but never particularly to the men I was involved with.” able to separate sex from love, she needed neither devotion nor infatuation though she did fall in love with an army captain. “i took it [sex] for granted,” she said. "to me, it always a natural requirement, a need. it didn’t shock me.”

—hired as a secretary, johnson had little interest in medicine at the time or a college degree. after four months, masters promoted her to research assistant, a decision that perplexed almost everyone. but Johnson excelled. her ability to recruit as well as gain the trust of a wide variety of volunteers truly made the human sexual response (1966) possible. their sample pool shifted from prostitutes to coeds, nurses, university employees, friends and neighbors. the only requirement was that the women be able to orgasm regularly and easily from penetration. as one female participant explained, “she made me feel that i was not only getting paid but helping my gender as well.”

—less than a year into their partnership, masters made johnson a proposition: by engaging in sex with each other, they could extend their experiments into actual experience; rather than replying on photographic documentation, they could observe the so-called sex flush themselves, allowing them greater insight into the sexual response cycle. although a forced arrangement, according to the their biographer, masters saw it as consensual where as johnson interpreted it as a job requirement. “bill did it all—i didn’t want him,” she later remarked, “i had a job and i wanted it.”

—the overall effect of human sexual response (1966) was that it demanded that the clitoris be studied, described, written about. in fact, the study was so alarming precisely because it was so specific, so full of immutable details. although much of their ‘revelatory findings,’ such as the fact that women can climax as fast as men with proper stimulation, had been established by kinsey, masters and johnson were seen as proving these otherwise speculative assumption via "facts," i.e. hard science and technology.

—echoing kinsey, masters and johnson found that due to the clitoris’s small size, little blood is needed for the clitoris to become erect, and after orgasm, blood quickly floods out, allowing many women to have multiple orgasms. they stressed the clit’s singular, unmatched qualities: “the clitoris is a unique organ in the total of human anatomy,” they wrote. “no such organ exists within the anatomic structure of the human male.”

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