The New York Times Magazine just published a story about Bat Sheva Marcus, a Modern Orthodox sex counselor whose practice has become a go-to address for young hasidic women who suffer from not being interested in having sex with their basherte. You can see the whole story here.
The story is basically a very sad one about women who only just heard about their clitoris after giving birth to their third baby, about lists of barely-erotic ideas that the sex counselor makes for the patients to take back to their rav for approval and of those ravs not giving approval to any of the ideas – including kissing with the lights on, let alone to using a vibrator, chass v’sholom.
The story of the girl who spends eternity in gehenim with her mother forced to boil her in a boiling pot (of semen) is mentioned, except that the Times thinks that it’s merely boiling water, the ignoramuses. As is the story of the heroic Jewish woman who, before being tied to a horse by the Cossacks to be dragged through the town, pins her skirt to the flesh of her legs so that none of the nice frum men would get a hard-on from the sight of her torn and bloody legs.
The Times piece never wonders why these chassidish rabbis are sending patients for sex therapy in the first place though. The closest the piece comes to addressing the question is this paragraph:
a Haredi rabbi, who asked me to swear never to reveal his name — most Haredim are, to say the least, guarded about discussing the erotic — started to refer patients to her. The rabbi is affiliated with a prominent Orthodox fertility organization; he advises women and couples whose problems with sex are interfering with becoming pregnant or threatening their marriages. Other rabbis also send him cases. He winds up hearing a lot about women’s antipathy toward sex — a role that isn’t as unlikely as it might sound; throughout much of Haredi Orthodoxy, rabbis are the ones who rule on private matters, even when the domain is the female body.
So one reason the rabbis might hear about it and refer them for therapy is because they’re literally not having sex, and are thus not having babies. And another reason might be because the woman’s antipathy towards sex is “threatening the marriage”. No shit, but it’s really sad that things have to be that desperate in order for them to get some sex ed.
The story of one woman is particularly tragic:
After several sessions with the Satmar woman, Marcus brought out a wicker basket and set a series of vibrators on the table, starting with a small battery-operated model and concluding with a forearm-size plug-in version. Marcus sent her patient into an exam room to try out the devices and to choose one to take home. The Satmar woman did this obediently but made it clear that she would never extend pleasure to the point of climax, an experience Marcus had described decorously to her. Over the following months of counseling, of checking in on whether her husband was becoming at all comfortable about touching her with the vibrator, the woman’s proscription against orgasm did not lift. She was willing to be turned on to make herself more receptive to him, to bring them emotionally closer. She did not want to go past this holy purpose.
All this talk about the clitoris reminds me of a post I wrote about my own chosson teacher and how little he taught me. That story can be found here.
What did your chosson/kallah teacher teach you? Let’s hear your worst chosson/kallah teacher story.