Sigh - Another 'Sex Expert' Spouting Gender Stereotypes

I watched the Ricki Lake show yesterday - did you know Ricki Lake has another talk show? - because it was about sex. It was pretty silly. They crammed as many different things in there as possible so there was lots of 'scandalous' interviews with people about 'scandalous' things, but not enough time to have a thoughtful discussion about any one thing in a way that could actually help anyone or shed some light. Typical daytime talk show stuff. I did get introduced to yet another 'sexpert'. Ricki Lake's resident 'sexpert' is Simone Bienne. Although this was the first time I'd ever seen her on TV, it is, sadly, not the first time I'd heard the things she had to say.

I check out her website. Her credentials list only that she is a licensed 'psychosexual' therapist. It does not say what body she is licensed under, what her education was or what degrees she holds and from where. The rest of the credentials are all citations of TV and radio shows she has been on. N.B. one is not an expert because one has appeared on a number of television and radio shows as an expert, one is an expert because one has specialized knowledge and education in a field.

Bienne seemed to be all about saying 'scandalous' titillating things while being sure to stay firmly on the side of traditional views on sex and marriage that are dripping with sexual stereotyping. She seemed to really want to be out there - by saying things like 'women love to be tied up' and 'you can use clothespins in the bedroom' - but they sat her down next to Dan Savage so that didn't really work out. Next to him, she's about as scandalous as a PBJ sandwich.

I love Dan Savage. I don't always agree with everything he says and sometimes he rushes to the joke or the quick answer at the expense of someone's feelings. But for the most part I really like Dan for two reasons. First, he looks at relationships and sex in a realistic ways instead of holding onto ideals that don't work for most people. He considers what sex really is like and what people really are like and allows for that and doesn't hold them to standards and ideals that have no functional purpose or are impossible to attain. Second, he rarely ventures into territory about which he knows nothing. Although Dan knows a fuckton about all things related to sex at this point in his life, he rarely answers any question having to do with medical things or toys - he almost always asks someone who works in those fields to answer those questions for him. I respect him because these two things are things that most 'sexperts' freely and openly do and they are the things that drive me insane.

Simone Bienne was doing both of them on the Ricki Lake show. She was warning of the dangers of polyamoury and swinging (not in too judgemental a fashion, I will give her that) because of what she thinks these things can do to a traditional monogamous marriage. She ignored the fact that most of the people who are polyamorous or into swinging don't want a traditional monogamous marriage. They want something quite different from that, they talk about it, and they agree of the terms of communication and respect within their relationship. These warning about how it could make one person insecure or jealous are pretty bogus because, in most cases, people go ahead with these relationship styles exactly because they are not the types of people to easily become jealous or insecure and actually find that involving others in their couple makes it more secure. She seemed to not be able to understand that. Why talk about this in terms of threatening a traditional marriage when the people involved are not the least bit interested in maintaining a traditional marriage?

Then she went over to the old talk show standard - the 'walk me through your table o' stuff' segment. This is where she was going to show everyone how to 'spice up your sex life' (eye roll) 'a la 50 Shades of Grey'. First she recommended candles and oils - wow! I bet most people watching the show had never thought of that! She said that baby oil is a good way to start. This is where we come to see that Ms. Bienne's knowledge of toys and paraphernalia is probably not so good. Baby oil makes a terrible massage oil! It's thick and greasy and it clogs pours and causes breakouts. There are much better oils on the market. She kept saying that you 'don't have to go into a sexy sexy shop' to get this. First of all, what the hell is wrong with a 'sexy, sexy, shop' (commonly referred to as sex shops or adult toy stores)? And secondly, you can go to a drugstore, a spa, or a massage therapist and get a great oil that is meant for massage. Then she picked up a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, the kind with fun fur pasted overtop of cheap play metal handcuffs and said that they were really good quality. Not so much. Those are really the worst kind of cuffs you can get. They look innocent because they have fur on them but they are still rigid which means that if you pull on them at all, you are likely to jar and/or bruise your wrist. It's hard to move in those types of cuffs. She really should have had a real soft cuffs like sportsheets or kinklab makes. Those give you all of the fun and none of the awkward wrist bruises. She also talked about tying up your partner with a necktie or a bathroom sash. That's not such a bad thing and I understand that she's pressed for time, but that those suggestions never come with instructions about how to do that safely kind of irks me. It is possible to cut off circulation with a necktie.

The worst part of this for me was that instead of using her time to talk about safety, she launched into an explanation of why moms love bondage - because women have so many things to take care of everyday and are responsible for so much, they love to have a time where they don't have to be in control. Okay - that's true for lots of women. But the gender stereotyping just drives me crazy. It's equally true that there are lots of women who love to tie up their partners and take complete control of them - to be the ones totally in charge - to express a dominate or aggressive side or even a nurturing component to their personality. There are also lots of men who love to be tied up. The immediate assumption that all women are one way makes me nuts.

She had a bunch of clothespins there which she suggested would be good for some pain play. That's all right in a way except that she was quick to point out that it's not something she does and she neglected to mention anything about where it is and is not safe to put a clothespin and the fact that, depending on how tight the spring is, clothespins are actually not so innocent. They can be extremely painful and are not necessarily a starter BDSM implement.

Blah, same old, same old. I really wish they would have had Dan do this tour across the table. It would have looked quite different I'm sure. Although Dan probably would have suggested that a toy seller do this because they know what they're doing.

To top it all off, the show was sponsored by the Magic Banana. Everyone in the audience got one but Ricki Lake failed to mention what a Magic Banana is. Most of the audience probably didn't know. The Magic Banana is a piece of shit toy with a great marketing department. It's a kegel exerciser which is a piece of plastic rope with a plastic tube around it and a plastic handle. It costs $68 and it does not work. Not even worth getting it for free.

I would love to see one of these segments where they put three things on the table instead of 20 so that you actually have time to talk about them and they bring in someone who really knows something about toys. There are lots of us, why won't they ever bother to do their homework and contact one of us? It's probably because we want to show and say things that you can't put on prime time. Sigh.