Review: “Masters of Sex” Season 3 Premiere Takes on Sex, Revolution, Women’s Lib, & the Human Sexual Response
The Season 3 premiere of the popular cable television show, “Masters of Sex”, is available for free viewing in advance of its airing on July 12, 2015. Similarly to HBO, Showtime is presenting its content online for a monthly fee as an alternative to watching it on TV. And it’s about time!
“Masters of Sex” follows the important work of sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia Johnson, wonderfully played by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, respectively. After two successful seasons delving into the ground-breaking work that changed society’s perception of sex and of women’s sexuality forever, Season 3 of “Masters of Sex” promises to go even further, showing their work finally reaching the masses while exploring their personal relationships which are crippled by the very work they love.
This online episode offers a brief review of where the show left off at the end of Season 2 and picks up in 1965. Much like my dismay with “Mad Men’s” foray into the mid-1960s, “Masters of Sex” is now squarely thrust into a world of avocado green appliances in the home, false eyelashes and white eye shadow on the women, and some of the ugliest clothes ever designed. Be that as it may, the ’60s were also an incredibly important time for progress in the civil rights movements for blacks, women, American Indians, and other traditionally marginalized groups.
This episode alternates between Masters and Johnson’s press conference for the release of their pioneering book, Human Sexual Response, and the months leading up to that press conference. Masters is as work-focused as ever, and even when he is with his family physically, he is an absent father to his children emotionally. Likewise, Johnson also deals with her role as a mom to two teenagers and is determined to finish school, a personal and professional goal she repeatedly has put off due to her dedication to their work.
Masters’ wife, Libby, pops pills to get by as she deals with anxiety and depression. At one point, she admits she has been “medicating myself so I wouldn’t feel” all of the things wrong in her marriage. She confides in Johnson one night, “I think that a heart can only be broken so many times, and then it’s done. And I think that I’m done.”
Even though she is a sex researcher, Johnson has trouble talking to her own daughter about sex, which is difficult at the best of times, but the irony is not lost. Her son, Henry, wants to enlist in the military, causing Johnson another knock-down-drag-out with her ex-husband, George.
Now that the children of Masters and Johnson are growing up, the show focuses more on the relationships they have – or do not have – with their families. Masters and Johnson are much more equipped to help other couples even as they fail horribly in their relationships in their own families. A pivotal scene between Masters and his son Johnny, in which Masters’ past issues with his angry father come barreling to the forefront, shakes Masters to his core.
The mentality of the time toward women’s sexuality is also on full display. During the press conference, a reporter asks, “With your emphasis on female sexual pleasure, can a woman feel free now to say, ‘No’?” I laughed out loud at the stupidity of the question, and yet I had to remember that the timeframe of the show is 1965. Then I remembered misogynist Virginia politician Dick Black’s comments from just 2002 about how spousal rape was not possible, especially if the woman is wearing a nighty. Then I remembered by own marriage, when I felt like I had to have sex to keep the peace about bills or not to get kicked out. Johnson’s response to the reporter’s question was brilliant: “Our study gives women more freedom than ever to say ‘No’ because a woman will no longer be making her decision out of fear.”
By “fear”, she means the traditional fears regarding social ostracism, disease, and pregnancy. The point is that women would now have the information they need to make informed decisions in regard to sex, safe sex, and a better chance at preventing unwanted consequences. All hail, women’s lib!
The reporter presses Masters and Johnson, questioning if they think the current societal trends will lead to a culture of moral decay. Johnson emphatically responds by explaining, “Young men and women today are inclined to work things out emotionally rather than fixating on sex.”
At no point in the series has Dr. Masters been likable as a person, a husband, or a father; he fails on all three points. However, as a doctor, Masters is a vocal and unapologetic advocate for women’s sexuality, women’s equality – especially pertaining to sex and pleasure, and a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to be sexually active. A New York Times reporter remarks that clergy members are warning that lowering these traditional fears – and women feeling comfortable telling their husbands “No” when it comes to sex – means women will bring about the collapse of social order … because women living in fear and enduring spousal rape is apparently preferable. Masters bluntly and succinctly replies, “There is no universe where fear is a value worth preserving.”
Probably the best line in the episode occurs when one reporter insinuates that Masters and Johnson are trying to piggy-back on the sexual revolution, to which Johnson retorts, “We are the sexual revolution.”
“We know the fear that surrounds the subject of sex…. The legacy affects us all,” Masters points out to the reporters. He explains that the narrow-minded constrictive view of sex has only been around since the Industrial Revolution. Before that, “Sex was a given. It was valued, enjoyed, even if it wasn’t understood scientifically.” He states that all they want from their research is an approach to sexuality that is free of fear and full of understanding.
The reporter who grills Masters and Johnson throughout the episode dishes his final words about their book, Human Sexual Response. What does he say? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Overall, this episode is a great testament to the work of Masters and Johnson, while highlighting the hurdles they faced professionally and personally. The 1960s time period is firmly established by the production design, and Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Betty the office manager, has an all-too-brief scene at the beginning, but sporting a pseudo-vintage Streisand/Funny Girl wig makes it worth it.
My only complaint is the casting of Johnson’s son, Henry. The actor, Noah Robbins, looks nothing like Lizzy Caplan or Mather Zickel, who plays her ex-husband George; and Robbins seems more like a 14 year-old, not a 17 year-old who is ready to enter the military. This is TV, not the stage; a little more realism is expected. Also in this episode, this 17 year-old Henry has sex with a woman older than he is, and yet there is no mention of statutory rape or impropriety, except for the fact that she has a child.
For the other teenage Johnson kid, the casting of Tessa with Isabelle Furhman was a good choice as she resembles both Caplan and Zickel with her dark looks. And though she does have a nude scene, Furhman is 18+ in real life.
Extra kudos also go to the casting team for hiring Jaeden Lieberher to play Masters’ son Johnny, who perfectly expresses through body language and facial reactions how much he wants to be like his father and desperately wants his father’s love, but secretly resents Masters’ obsession with his work.
The real-life Virginia Johnson did have two children with George Johnson, but their names are Scott and Lisa. The factual William H. Masters had two children with his wife Elizabeth, and their names are William and Sarah.
This online freebie preview has been edited for content, with the more choice language silenced, naked breasts blurred out, and the best part – the sex – has been cut out completely. You’ll have to buy a subscription to get the full benefit of the sailor’s language, nudity, and sex scenes.
If you have never seen the show, check it out. And if you think we struggle with society accepting women’s sexuality in today’s world, “Masters of Sex” expertly portrays the narrow-minded environment that women endured as they struggled for sexual liberation just 50 years ago.
Catch the Season 3 premiere of “Masters of Sex” on Showtime.
Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is a large-sized paperback book originally published in Britain that covers some of the basics about Tantra, offering accurate information on this ancient, extensive, and often confusing topic. The book features full-color photographs from the Tantra sutras, connecting the reader with Tantric history. The author, Indra Sinha, focuses on the ancient paths of Tantra: the goddesses associated, sacred sites, mantras, and meditations, as well as explains the many misconceptions of Tantra as presented in the West. Sinha was a Sanskrit scholar at Cambridge and also wrote one of the popular modern translations of the infamous Kama Sutra.
The reason I like Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is because it touches on so many important topics of Tantra but in manageable pieces, perfectly combined with the photos and visually-friendly layout. The photographs are taken from various primary sources – the Tantra sutras, and incorporate various symbolic aspects that the ancients readily understood but may seem shocking or just weird to the modern viewer. Some of the iconography includes blood-covered goddesses, wriggling serpents, and a plethora of yoni (vulvas) and linga (penises). The book also features centuries-old Tantric drawings and paintings that depict maithuna (sexual union), so this book is “Not Safe For Work” and might be best for readers aged 21 or older.
This book touches on so many important topics in a thorough but easy-to-grasp manner that it makes a perfect beginner’s book to Tantra. I heartily recommend Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy as a primer for Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine by Andre Van Lysebeth, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses by Dr. David Frawley, and Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga by Sally Kempton. As the umbrella over all the yogas, including hatha and kundalini, Tantra is a shamanic science present in all forms of yogic practice, but the majority of Tantric gnosticism regarding sex is rarely presented at the average yoga studio while being hypersexualized in most New Age Tantric books and workshops.
Another book with a similar cover is Tools for Tantra by North Indian musician and writer Harish Johari, an excellent introduction to the yogic mandalas, Sanskrit mantras, and visual yantras used in Tantra. However, this book is a bit of a dryer read, and so Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy is still a better opener to Tantra.
As one writer has said, a book without Tantra’s yantra is not really a book on Tantra. Therein lies the great problem with researching Tantra. It is difficult to sort through the numerous books available to ascertain which one will have the best, most reliable information. Finding a teacher versed in real Tantra is even more difficult. Tantra is a way of life, not an hour-long yoga session Monday-Wednesday-Friday, nor a collection of kinky sex positions. Tantra literally means a “tool for expansion” and is thought of as a “web”, a connected yet expanding consciousness, bridging the microcosm with the macrocosm and back again, cyclically.
The author, Sinha, writes on page 15, “The basis of all Tantrism is the worship of Sakti and Siva, the female and the male principles…. Without Sakti, there is no Siva, and no Siva without Sakti.” Sinha states emphatically in the previous paragraph, “Siva and Sakti cannot be separated.” (14-15) This very specific religious and spiritual foundation is probably the reason most Tantrism in the West has been secularized, stripping the “foreign” and non-Christian aspects to make Tantra and sexuality more palatable for sexually-repressed Americans. While I personally, do not subscribe to Sanatana Dharma (“Hinduism”), I appreciate the energies anthropomorphized as the balancing principals of Shakti or Shiva. Sinha has included the “foreign” bits and ancient spiritual practices for the Tantra newcomer.
The photographs of the ancient depictions of Tantra, her goddesses, and the sacred symbols can be jarring at first. The modern observer may find it odd to see detached penises and flying vulvas included in sacred sexuality. I will admit, that it does seem a bit “J. Alfred Prufrock’ed” at times. However, like all symbols, they are meant to jog the memory of the mind, the heart, and/or the subconscious self, not to be the whole story in and of itself.
Intriguing to some and perhaps shocking to others, Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy helps diminish the hypersexualized celebrity of Tantra and add fact where fiction has reigned in the popular consciousness. Sinha perfectly synthesizes centuries of teachings into a helpful, 154-page book, including an impressive 9-page bibliography and index, that informs but does not overwhelm the senses. Anyone looking to dip her or his toe into the expansive waters of Tantra would do well to start with Sinha’s Tantra: The Cult of Ecstasy.
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The newest addition to my collection of toys is the Immortal Jade Glass G-Spot Dildo 10-Inch. While I really like the glass prostate toy I already have, the Jade caught my eye and has now won my heart… or at least, my prostate’s undying devotion.
My main problem with most toys (of any material) is the lack of a handle. Knowing my vagina will lengthen to about 5 inches at the absolute most, I thought the Jade would give me plenty of length to hold on to for ease of use.
Choosing to get the Jade was based on several factors. The toy is curved, so it would definitely stimulate my She Spot (what I call the G-Spot) as well as the rest of my female prostate. The end is bulbous so it covers more surface area than a fingertip but is still smaller than a penis head. The glass is super easy to clean and keep hygienic, and the Jade is also suitable for anal play. One major reason for getting the Jade is to finally achieve full female ejaculation.
The Jade is slightly heavier than I’d thought it would be, but using it does not wear out my wrist or my shoulder. Due to the curve, holding the toy at a specific angle is not necessary — it reaches the prostate on its own. The Jade is only 1.5 inches at its widest point — the bulbous balls at the end of the “shaft.” I couldn’t get the fist “ball” inside me, but feeling it at the opening of my vagina felt great.
The shaft has perpendicular glass ridges that seemed to stimulate my perineal sponge while the tip worked my prostate. Nothing can replace the feeling of being filled by a penis (or my new penis toy), but the Jade seems to hit several spots simultaneously.
The three times I’ve used the Jade have been deliciously wonderful experiences which I’ll write up soon in a DailyOJ post. I can say that the orgasms seemed to keep going, and the sounds I made were… unique. When the orgasms began, I didn’t throw my arms over my head as soon as I usually do, meaning I could keep using the Jade to stimulate more orgasms. For the after-O’s, I felt a strange “rippling” effect in my prostate that I don’t remember feeling before — ever. As the full-body orgasmic waves kept hitting all over, microcosmic waves rippled and rippled at my prostate. While I have not ejaculated in gushing form, I did did produce a lot of fluid during the session that flowed out continuously from the mid-way point onward.
For a prostate toy, the Jade is an excellent choice for many reasons. Frankly, I can’t think of any other prostate or glass toy I will need for a while. Perfect for the male prostate or female prostate, vaginal or anal play, the Immortal Jade Glass G-Spot 10-Inch is a great choice for your next toy.