by Gary Schubach, Ed.D.
Masturbation Memoirs Volumes 3 & 4 are the latest installments in the series by Dorie Lane and the House of Chicks. Like previous volumes, they begin with news footage of former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders urging saner and more reasonable attitudes towards masturbation. Unfortunately, that speech cost her job. Memoirs aims at overcoming prejudice and misinformation about masturbation and shows the value of self-pleasuring for women as a training tool to better understand their bodies so they can have a more satisfying sexual response.
Richly and creatively videotaped by Carol Leigh, (aka Scarlett Harlot), Memoirs shows the masturbation patterns of an interesting and racially diverse group of women. These women are unique and colorful examples of the San Francisco “look,” and the viewer gets treated to an intimate and uninhibited window into their lives.
Lane and Leigh have really become excellent videographers. In the early part of the piece, their subjects sit at a round table discussing their masturbation patterns while being photographed by a swivel camera at the center of the table. A second camera often catches interesting shots of the women telling their stories while being caught in the viewfinder of the swivel camera. This creates a very interesting and personal effect.
Later, the videos go on to show individual scenes of the women masturbating. They are richly photographed with interesting camera angles and beautiful fade-ins and -outs, dissolves, and overlays. Special effects add to the artistry and creativity of the sequences. The choice of music, often problematic in this kind of video, is simple but elegant.
One sequence which may cause problems in some localities is when one of the women dresses up as a little girl and masturbates using stuffed animals. I had no problem with this scene as it was clear that this was a fully grown woman and the scene was camped up in a way that it would be difficult to view it as an attempt at pseudopedophilia. However, I understand that a good portion of the world is still in denial that children have a sexuality of their own separate from any contact with adults and I fear this sequence could create legal problems for the video. If it does, it is a total shame that we have come to the point where we are unable to appreciate a woman expressing her “inner child.”
Overall, I thought that this was a superb effort and Lane and Leigh deserve a lot of credit for their commitment to the sexual good health of women. Their art has become so creative and interesting that I cannot help but eagerly anticipate their next efforts.