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.

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