More than 500 people packed into the Science Center last night to hear Dr. Ruth Westheimer, known to most Americans as simply Dr. Ruth, lecture on her favorite topic--sex.
Westheimer, an internationally known sex therapist who has authored several bestsellers and hosted her own talk radio show, spoke on issues ranging from masturbation to the AIDS crisis.
After delivering her lecture, "Sex In The Nineties," Westheimer answered sexually explicit questions from the audience. Peer Contraceptive Counselors, the student group that co-sponsored the event, distributed signed condoms free to the audience.
In addition to those who gained admittance to the lecture hall, several hundred students milled about outside Science Center B [see related story]. Organizers of the event provided a television simulcast for those who could not be seated.
Westheimer began her address, centered on the need for sexual literacy, with an attempt to debunk many of the myths about sex and sexual attitudes.
"I could talk for a week about the myths surrounding masturbation," she said. Sexual myths, including those on pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, are still present in the 1990s, she said.
But Westheimer was careful to make sure people didn't read too much into her words.
"I don't want all the kindergarten teachers in Boston to tell their students to pull down their pants and teach them to masturbate tomorrow," she said.
Dr. Ruth, who stressed her support for contraception, also said she was in favor of keeping abortion legal.
"If abortion has to be illegal again, I will find that to be a terrible state of affairs," she said.
At the end of her 45-minute talk, Westheimer fielded questions from the audience, particularly soliciting questions about g-spots and multiple orgasms.
"Does any courageous person have a friend with a question?" she asked, to the laughter of the audience.
To finish her address, Dr. Ruth called upon the innovative Harvard community to experiment with new sexual methods--such as men bringing women to orgasm with their big toes, or women utilizing their armpits to satisfy a man's sexual appetite.
Students interviewed after the speech said they were glad they got the chance to see Dr. Ruth, despite the difficulties in getting a seat in the lecture hall.
"I thought it was great that Dr. Ruth came to Harvard," said Kevin R. Winston '93, who called the talk "humorous."
The event's chief organizer, PCC counselor Laura A. Rosenberg '92, also said that she was happy with the lecture's results.
"I was very shocked that we had so many people show up," Rosenberg said. She expressed regret that that all those who wanted to see Dr. Ruth could not fit into the lecture hall.
"The ones who were able to see her were very pleased," the counselor said. "She covered a lot of topics, and she was very entertaining.