The orgasmic-meditation “practice”—a word, Witt notes, meant to signal “an ongoing, daily ritual in which one gained incremental expertise and wisdom over time”—is so simple that you might wonder why anyone would pay the hundred and forty-nine dollars it now costs to be certified to engage in it, never mind the twelve thousand that it costs to become a One Taste coach.With a partner, a woman sets up a “nest” of pillows and blankets on the floor, then lies on it, naked from the waist down.Witt found that she often couldn’t discuss sex with her Ok Cupid prospects. When Witt was using Ok Cupid, she felt that “the right to avoid the subject of sex was structurally embedded” in the site.Feminist sex-toy shops long ago discovered that women prefer to buy dildos and vibrators if they are displayed like Brancusi sculptures, the kind of objet d’art that you might find on a coffee table at West Elm rather than at an XXX peepshow den in pre-Giuliani Times Square.As Witt’s image of the Epcot monorail suggests, she preferred to see it as an endpoint, the moment that would bring the aimless liaisons of her single years to a full stop.Witt grew up in Minneapolis, went to college at Brown, and got a master’s degree in investigative journalism at Columbia.How much influence do your parents have over your life? Which are worse, starving children or abused animals, and which answer would you accept in a prospective match?Will your sanity be intact at the end of this interrogation?
Influenced by that decade’s liberties, and chastened by its excesses, they encouraged her to think of youthful sexual experimentation as a healthy prelude to a coupled life. For young, straight, well-educated American women, sleeping around for pleasure and experience has become a social convention, the way dancing the cotillion at a débutante ball once was. Following her visit to the clinic, she fantasized about giving herself over to “the project of wifeliness,” as she saw many of her peers doing, indulging in the sort of triumphal social-media posts—engagement photos, wedding photos, baby photos—that advertise the twenty-first-century life cycle of young couples.
She began to see that she was living in a time of unprecedented erotic possibility, a sort of sexual future.
Might she have a particular set of unrealized desires, a sexual identity she hadn’t yet discovered? She bought a ticket to San Francisco in order to report on the sexual subcultures she had reason to believe she would find there.
Monogamy, she felt, would be all the more satisfying for being obviously traditional, a path she could see as a “destiny rather than a choice.” She was tired of choosing. Without the pressure of emotional commitment, Witt was free to do what she liked sexually, but she had little use for a freedom she had already decided to give up.
Better, she thought, to fall in love with one person and have sex with him for the foreseeable future. Maybe the problem had to do with a failure of imagination.
Sexual freedom can be put to more interesting uses than sleeping with your friends.