Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Leslie Margolin's "The Etherized Wife"

Leslie Margolin is a professor of rhetoric, sexuality, and counselling at the University of Iowa. His books include Goodness Personified: The Emergence of Gifted Children and Under the Cover of Kindness: The Invention of Social Work.

Margolin applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Etherized Wife: Privilege and Power in Sex Therapy Discourse, and reported the following:
At the top of page 99, readers will see a well-known psychologist's (Joseph Wolpe) verbatim description of how he treated a woman who could not tolerate sexual intercourse. Then they will see my reaction to this description:
Wolpe's technique, and this example, are quite famous, but as I read and reread Wolpe's description of how the treatment proceeded, I could not help thinking about the woman, his patient, whose significance as a human appears to have been reduced to that of a receptacle capable of receiving a series of imaginary and real rod-shaped objects into her vagina, culminating in the reception of her husband's penis. Wolpe described the case as a success because, like many of the others described in the sex therapy literature, the woman patient, in the end, was able to accept a penis into her vagina. But the question remains, why did Wolpe exclude any information on her motivation and frame of mind? Why did he see the intercourse goal as so important that it justified portraying her simply as an orifice that needed to learn to accept increasingly large objects until, finally, that orifice could comfortably accommodate a penis?
I believe that page 99 provides an excellent idea of what the book is all about.

This page shows, as does the entirety of my book, how, for decades, women have been objectified and humiliated in what we call "sex therapy."
Learn more about The Etherized Wife at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue