Friday, July 26, 2013

Communication and Loving Touch


In 1966 Little, Brown published Human Sexual Response a 366 page compendium of the physiology of sex.  In many respects, it was the book that changed everything.  For the first time Americans accepted frank and scientific language about the mechanics and occurrences of sexual response into the public lexicon.  Perhaps more importantly, acceptance of the research required an acceptance of the research techniques, which though conducted by discreet and charming researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, still required, well, sex; and people to watch it.  In short, the book blew apart the centuries-old notion of sex as a sacred, unmentionable act and opened the worlds eyes to the idea  of it having quite a lot to do with biology.  It was the first published, mainstreamed, scientific step towards the sexual revolution in the United States.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Virginia Johnson, who never earned a college degree, though was awarded two honorary doctorates for her work, who broke barriers as one of the first acclaimed female researchers, who was a country singer, who alternately married and divorced her research partner William Masterson while maintaining their working relationship, died yesterday at the age of 88.  She was an early pioneer of women in the workplace, and an advocate for homosexual rights.  She also developed the first sex therapy methods, sensate therapy, which focused not on medical treatment but on the role of communication and loving touch in the establishment of healthy sexual function,  It is still in use today.


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