Dr. Ruth would be welcome at MOSAIC

The CMU rumor mill works in mysterious ways. Just this week, The Tartan caught wind that the organizers behind MOSAIC were considering various keynote speakers for their 2006 conference, held in February. One name, apparently to be hotly-debated in planning circles, drifted our way: Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Westheimer, known simply as ?Dr. Ruth,? is a sweet-faced septuagenarian with a thick German accent who looks like she should be baking strudel. Instead, she?s reviewing sex toys and telling you how many orgasms are too many. (Answer: it depends on the individual.)

Known as America?s top psychosexual therapist, or ?sexpert,? Dr. Ruth has worked in radio, television and the lecture circuit to spread what she calls ?sexual literacy.? If Dr. Ruth really is a candidate for the MOSAIC keynote speaker position, she would be an intriguing and excellent choice.

Many college students have a reputation of being quite knowledgeable about sex (through more salacious means than talks with their parents); at CMU, we have precisely the opposite status. Neither of these assumptions are completely warranted ? if you were to ask any student at any school deep or probing questions about sex, chances are they couldn?t give you a straight or accurate answer. For our generation, far too much sexual know-how is based on urban legend, whispers, or hearsay. Our well-being and safety depend on our ability to have an open, accurate, and factual discourse on sex.

If there is one major advocate of open sexual discourse, Dr. Ruth is it. For those in doubt of her expertise, she has a masters degree in sociology and a PhD in education from Columbia University and has studied human sexuality at New York Hospital. She has a nationally syndicated radio show called ?Sexually Speaking?; previously, she had a television show titled The
Dr. Ruth Show on the Lifetime channel; she has twice been named ?College Lecturer of the Year?; and she has also written a number of books, including Sex for Dummies. The woman knows what she?s talking about.

However, Dr. Ruth?s approach to sex is far from being clinical or inaccessible. She is comfortable and open with any number of sexual topics, from the most basic of queries to subjects that might be considered taboo. Recently she began running an advice column on; some of the issues she addresses there include ?Technique Tips? and ?Are Orgasms Genetic?? In a world where sexual topics are hushed up or skirted around, Dr. Ruth is capable of giving a straight answer with compassion, but without the giggles.

Would having Dr. Ruth as the keynote speaker for MOSAIC uphold the conference?s goals to educate and celebrate women?s roles in the professional field? Certainly. Ruth Westheimer survived WWII; moved to Israel and became involved in the Haganah, an underground military group that fought for Israel?s independence; studied at the Sorbonne, and became a college student and a doctor when many educational opportunities for women were just opening up. Her choice of study since has shown her determination to voice both men and women?s most private concerns, and she has become a master of the media.

She transcends generational differences and social mores. For Carnegie Mellon and MOSAIC, Dr. Ruth would be a much-needed breath of fresh air.