(Haaretz) — As a certified sex educator who runs a side business out of her home selling dilators and vibrators to the ultra-Orthodox and secular alike, Beverley Damelin was certain she had seen and heard it all.
That includes the case of an elderly ultra-Orthodox woman who recently summoned Damelin to Bnei Brak so she could choose and purchase a vibrator in the privacy of her own home, the Ethiopian woman who disclosed to her that female genital mutilation was not uncommon where she came from, and the very sexually active religious Muslim and Jewish women who have been increasingly seeking her out for information and advice on hymen reconstruction surgery.
So Damelin, the 42-year-old mother of two, was surprised to find herself taken aback during a recent visit to an Israeli high school where she had come to present a sex-ed class. The discussion, not surprisingly, veered to the national scandal involving allegations that pop music sensation Eyal Golan had slept with underage groupies.
“One of the girls raised her hand and said, ‘Those girls who were having sex with him, they’re a different generation from us,’” recalls Damelin. “And I’m thinking to myself, But those girls were 15, and you’re all of 17. What do you mean a different generation? What shocked me was how judgmental these girls were about the behavior of others.”
Working as a sexual educator in a place like Israel, where behavior and attitudes span the spectrum, presents unique challenges, acknowledges Damelin, but it also makes life quite interesting. “I guess Israel is similar in that respect to other places where you have east meeting west, but it is definitely a collection of extremes,” she said.
So, for example, when Damelin is not advising hyper-sexualized Israeli school kids on how to stay out of trouble, she is increasingly helping married women, overwhelmingly Orthodox, learn to enjoy intercourse.
“Many women who come to me for help these days seek me out because they find penetration painful,” she said. “Secular women who experience pain during sex tend to leave their relationships and move on. They decide they’re just going to focus on other things in their lives. But for Orthodox women, who tend to get married early on, that simply isn’t an option, so increasingly they’re consulting with psychotherapists, and many of these psychotherapists are referring them to me. The Internet is where they’re finding out how to get themselves help.”