Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dr. Joycelyn Elders speaks at Momentum 2012

I've been promising you more tasty morsels from the Momentum conference since I wrote Part 1. Momentum was full of amazing people and ideas from start to finish -- and afterwards, because I couldn't stop thinking about what I had learned and the people I had met.

The high point had to be Dr. Joycelyn Elders -- former Surgeon General of the United States under Clinton, 1993-1994. She was born in 1933, making her a vibrant 78 now.

I met her shortly before my "Senior Sex Out Loud" speech. Dr. Elders exited the elevator and sat down across from me, where I was making last minute changes to my notes for my talk that was about to happen. I introduced myself to her and told her about my upcoming speech.

"That sounds very interesting," she said. "I think I'll follow you to the room." I don't usually get stage fright -- I love interacting with audiences! -- but I admit my hands shook and my toes tingled at the thought of Dr. Elders -- a role model for talking out loud about sex with a "bring it on!" approach to controversy! -- would be in my audience. (Read about my speech here.)

Dr. Elders, if you remember, was fired for advocating that schools teach children about masturbation in answer to a reporter's question.

Later that afternoon, Dr. Elders was part of the closing plenary. I wish you could have been there! Some of her memorable quotes:

  • "80% of men masturbate. 70% of women masturbate. And the rest lie."
  • “95% of Americans didn’t wait until marriage. We need to teach them to be responsible, rather than telling them, ‘Don’t have sex.’” 
  • "The best contraceptive in the world is a good education."
  • “The vows of abstinence break far more easily than latex condoms!” 
  • [about sex-positive activism:] “When you’re dancing with a bear, you can’t get tired and sit down.”
  • "We're sexual beings from the day we're born until the day we die."
  • "If you think babies aren't sexual beings, you've never changed a baby boy's diaper."
  • "When I am 95 I will still be a sexual person."

Although her speech at Momentum was not recorded, this video of a speech she gave in 2006 is similar and will show you her intelligence and sassy style.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My readers and I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Please share your views! Comments are moderated, so yours won't appear until I've seen it. Thank you in advance for commenting!

Some people have reported problems commenting. If this happens to you, please email your comment (with the name under which you want it posted) to, and I'll post it for you.

Retailers please note: I delete comments that attempt to hijack my readers to a commercial site. If you'd like to advertise, contact me at and I'll be happy to send you information.

Authors, therapists and sex educators who have helpful information for readers are welcome to post links to their sites.

-- Joan