The first time Patricia Schiller, 64, MA, JD saw a porn film was in 1968. And she won't ever forget it.
"I was sitting in a room with 35 people," she recalls, flushing a little even now. "There were five women. The rest were men, all sex educators, counselors, therapists. I can remember my hands started getting sweaty, my cheeks reddened, and I thought, 'oh God if any of these people could see me now I'd die'. When the lights went on the other women looked worse than I did. The women were really upset. The men weren't as uptight. They had all seen " - films" before, though they were still at the giggling stage. But I had never seen a porn film in my life. I had been to the Crazy Horse in Paris and I could discuss sex without batting an eye. I was very comfortable with sex, I thought. But witching this movie I felt like a peeping Tom. Especially during the part about homosexual women."
Today, 10 years later, Pat Schiller, founder and executive director of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) can watch a porn move, (clinically, a "confrontation film," or, informally a (" - film" without batting an eye.
And not only that, she approves of them.
And so, at the 11th National Sex Institute sponsored by AASWCT and held at the Mayflower Hotel this past week, there were confrontation films being shown on the second floor continuously during the evening sessions and during various seminars pertaining to visual aids in sex therapy.
And nobody else batted an ey either.
"We leave films up to the individual, "she says.
"The major factor is that it's important to confront our ownfeelings and to appreciate the fact that certain parts of you really need to be talked about and dealt with. These films get your reaction to a physical encounter and then you are able to talk about it and share your feelings with others. But it definitely has to be used in the right place, under the right circumstances with the right supervision. Otherwise it's pure porn.
William Masters and Virginia Johnson think it's significant that for the last two years Johnny Carson has not made a single joke about them.
The reason for this they believe is that America is growing up.
It was also the first time Masters and Johnson had ever attended an AASECT meeting and the first time they had won the group's annual award. "This group," Virginia Johnson told them in her acceptance speech, "has finally come of age."
Masters and Johnson know about the struggle for acceptance. They endured scorn in the 20 years since the gynecologist and the advertising executive Jojnson joined forces and began doing research and writing in the field.
Finally, this year, they feel it has all begun to happen.
For one thing, they have finally formulated a code of ethics for the profession which they feel will enhance its credibility.
In an interview in their suite at the Mayflower between seminars Masters and Johnson discussed their views on the changing attitudes about sex in this country.
They are older now, she 53, he 63. He has a slight paunch, is white haired and nearly balding. (Women kept coming up to him at the convention and asking to pat his head, and he happily onliged.) He seems content to sit quietly by and let his wife do most of the talking, occasionally interjecting a cogent remark. She too is a good deal heavier than she was. They both seem rather comfortable with themselves, well, like an old married couple rather than sex experts.
In fact, you could say that Masters and Johnson are the first members of the ?sex establishment." And they act like it. Ironically they are both very conservative in their approaches to sex research and disapproving or new, less orthodox research or methods.
Plus ca change .
"Up until now there has been an underlying orgy atmosphere at these kind of meetings," say Johnson. This meeting is unique. A couple of years ago the chances of a workshop of so-called health-care professionals would have been rare. The people who came to these things had not been able to separate their personal needs from the subject. All of a sudden this group is non-nonsense. If they have been having orgies, if they're simply here to meet others, it's not visible."
Johnson says that this has only been ablt to happen because of the new ethical guidelines that the real professionals have been working so hard to make happen.
"It immediately gives this organization maturity and credibility. It's had to go through growing pains."
And she tells of a conference they attended last year in Montreal where "many of those who attended insisted on demonstrating their own lifestyles and invited the media to observe orgies. It made everyone in the field aware of how vulnerable we are."
Neither Masters nor Johnson is too crazy about the idea of the demonstrations where private concessioners rent space to display sexual merchandise. "Linda's love swing," which shows how to make love on a swing or "Joni's delight," a sexual device for women. Nor do they particularly care for the demonstrations of porn films.
"We've never used a movie in our lives," says Masters with an edge of disdain in his voice.
"We don't use crutches of ny kind," say Johnson. "We don't think they are necessary and we don't like to develop dependency.
"We don't use crutches of any quickly, "object to them."
What they do object to, and rather vehemently, is the fact that Shere Hite, author of the controversial and popular sex book for women, the "Hite Report," was invited to speak at the AASECT convention this year.
They were not hte only ones to object. Many of the participants felt that Hite, not being a professional therapist, did not have the required credentials, and her presence tended to erode the credibility of the organization. Masters and Johnson were particularly disturbed by the fact that because of a dropout, Hite was switched from being luncheon speaker "entertainment" to keynote speaker.
They did not go to hear her speak. "I just couldn't bear to listen to a thing like that," says Virginia Johnson. "This is my first public critique of Shere Hite but I am so incensed at her pseudo-science. This is the era of pop science and she is going a great disservice to the field. What she's doing is political showmanship and you cannot make a science of political opinion. They aren't the same. Hers are kindergarten ideas.
"What hurts," says Johnson," is that people who are doing thie kind of writing are perpetuating the myths of their ownpersonal experiences. And by inciting Shere Hite here is just her credibility."
Girlish and Coy
Shere Hite arrived about a half-hour late for her opening speech. She appeared in little girl, dyed-blond, frizzed ringlets, doll-faced makeup and a frou-frou pink ruffled blouse with huge puffy sleeves.
She began by talking about her book, several years old now, and the thousands of wonderful cards and letters, gratifying responses, success stories which had come out of it.
In a soft, whispery, slightly coy voice - seemingly at odds with her definitive pronouncements - she declared: "The majority of women do not orgasm from thrusting or coitus . . . intercourse does not provide clitoral stimulation . . . I object to the word 'foreplay,' it sounds passive . . . this is a sexist definition . . . sex is oriented around the male and the male definition of sex and reproduction . . . men put women into the position of asking the man for extra stimulation, then feeling grateful . . . women are always waiting for men to mete out the goodies . . . .
"Men make more money, therefore they have the right to orgasms . . . Women are not in charge of their own stimulation . . . Orgasm has become such a political issue . . . It's a mythology that women have difficulty achieving orgasm . . . The clitoris has only been put on the map a few years ago . . . ."
She then paused, sighed and remarked, "oh, reporters. They drive me crazy. They're always asking . . . 'Does this mean masturbation? . . .'"
At the end of her speech half the audience gave her a standing ovation, the other half left without response.
Pat Schiller seems a warm, cozy motherly type. She has both a law degree and a social psychology degree, has taught at both American University and Howard, and thinks Shere Hite is okay.
"She (Hite) wasn't trained to be a researcher nor was she trained to be a sex expert," says Schiller. "But I think she has been able, through this book, to really get a good handle on how a specific number of people in our populaion think and feel about sexuality. There are very few of us, including Virginia Johnson, I might add, who've had the kind of training and education that Bill Masters has. in an emerging field we've all been roping, scratching, trying to develop results.
"Orthodox training isn't really available to anybody. I think Hite has done a good deal for women and men. I think she's a big plus. I would no be judgmental."
Matters of the Heart
When Harvey Caplan first told his parents he was going to be a sex therapist they nearly died, he says. His father was an old-time general practitioner and he had expected his son to become a cardiologist. But while Caplan, now 38, was an intern, he began moonlighting for extra money by counseling teen-agers about sex. Finally he took a year off from cardiology and never went back. Today he is a teacher at the University of California and a therapist. "I keep trying to tell my parents I still deal with matters of the heart," he says.
Harvey Caplan is in the vanguard of the sexual therapy field. He is maverick, a radical in a profession which is only just gaining general respectability and acceptance.
He is a well-dressed, attractive, articulate young man, and like most of the members of this organization, he is highly concerned about his profession. That means what it is and where it is going. And though he refers to the works of Masters and Johnson as a minister might the bible (and most sex therapists do) he still quarrels with their often conservative view-points. Take Shere Hite for instance.
"I think she's made a huge positive impact on sex. She could be criticized for lack of research but she has helped discover women's sexuality."
There is no question in the minds of either Masters or Johnson about the importance of sexuality in terms of human behavior, terms of one's life.
"It is," says Masters. "the whole ball game."
Why, say Masters, "I don't suppose that the man who is impotent thinks about it more than 50 to 100 times a day. He walks down the street, he sees a woman who is attractive, he thinks, 'what the hell, I can't do it anyway.' And you have to say that for anyone who questions himself 50 to 100 times a day, it will have to affect everything he does."
"Now, though," says Johnson, "there is an overkill on the subject of sex. We hope so desperately for people to grow up with sex in perspective. Whether one chooses to use it should be an option."
Masters and Johnson talk about sex, as did all of those participating in the seminars this week, in such clinical terms that the conference was disappointing for anyone who was hoping to be titillated. That was a major breakthrough, they felt. And though there were sexual jokes and references constantly (one counselor to another: "I thought your seminar was a rel succ-sex"), it was more like two doctors in MASH joking about brain surgery. The humor was comfortable, rather than salacious.
"Well, let's look at the chef," says Johnson. "Is the chef a glutton? Or is the chef turned off by food? No. He just has a respect and enjoyment of it. I never heard of a chef who dislike food."
"One just has a natural appetite," says Masters.
They admit, however, that in their own sex life "there is a real hazard of being clinical," says Johnson. "You may well take your work home with you. You don't jut say it belongs there in the office."
"It's hard though, to be a chef without eating," chuckles Masters.
Both Masters and Johnson feel things have changed and are changing rapidly in the field of sex research. But nothing has changed more than the kinds of problems they deal with.
In the past the most frequent problems were impotency and premature ejaculation for men, failure to achieve orgasm for women. "Now," says Masters "our fundamental problem is difficulty in communication, relationship difficulties. And effective sexual behavior is one of the best means of communication we know."
Harvey Caplan thinks there are still very few of his peers who would want to be a sex therapist. "A lot of people are skeptical about this as a full-time profession," he says. "And there's still a lot of joking around and teasing. A lot of people haven't found a way to integrate sex into their lives without having it stick out like a sore thumb."
Caplan is among those who believe in visual aids such as movies and insists that the therapists he trains have had the basic normal sexual experiences that they need to talk to their patients about. (Masters and Johnson feel this is preferable but don't insist.)
He agrees that he problems have changed over the years too long for good old-fashiond case of premature ejaculation," he laughs. "Now the levels of problems are bigger issues such as a general sense of dissatisfaction, boredom or apathy, disparate drives or interests, self esteem. People today are interested in what is the meaning of sex in the relationship.
Pat Schiller says her friends still make jokes about her. "They say, 'Ha, ha, there's the dirty old lady, there's the sex maniac.' But I don't mind. I enjoy it. I'm not involved in it for prestige."
One thing that she does mind is the number of quacks in the business, the fact that anybody can hang out a shingle and call themselves a sex therapist. Which is why she is so much in favor of the new Masters and Johnson "Ethics and Guidelines."
"The problem is that there's so much money to be made," she says. "A marriage counselor can charge $15 to $35 an hour. A sex therapist can charge from $35 to $100." And she says one of the biggest problems with quacks is the danger of them trying seduce patients or forcing them to endure consultations in the enude, having intercourse as a form of therapy.
Schiller, since she began, has counseled more than 5,000 couples. And she believes, as do Masters and Johnson and Caplan, that sex therapy specifically can be a help where regualr therapy or analysis fails.
"Sex counseling," she says, "is to develop greater comfort about sexuality, greater openness, freedom, intimacy. Sex is a function of being human. When all there is between people, though, is sex, it's time to split. We're not sexual acrobats, learning all the steps and strokes. The goal is to become warmer, more caring."
"I think of sex," she says, "as the most creative, pleasurable, wonderful thing between two people who care about each other. But you know, it doesn't have to be a gourmet dinner every time.It can also be just, well," she shrugs and grins, "it can be a sandwich and a Coke."