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Tuesday October 10, 2000

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The love doctor is in - class

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By Vanessa Francis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Dr. Ruth Westheimer publishes mediocre college guide

Grade: C

For 20 years, Dr. Ruth Westheimer has made valiant attempts through television appearances, public speaking and how-to books, to educate the nation on the do's and don'ts of healthy sex.

In her latest attempt, Westheimer addresses the young adult audience on college survival.

The book, "Dr. Ruth's Guide to College Life," is a crash course on what to do to save one's sanity during that formative freshman year, and it goes beyond the usual Westheimer fare of sex. She covers topics from dorm-life (the neat roommate versus the untidy mate) to food issues (the freshman fifteen) to Greek life (hazing rituals).

Dr. Ruth makes valid suggestions for the transition into college life, but the strongest point in the book is the rules one should consider when engaging in collegiate sex.

There is a lengthy discussion on positions, sex toys and timing with respect to sexual intercourse, and all of this from the mouth of an old woman. What is most interesting is her explanation of premature ejaculation, and the tricks to finding a person who is most compatible with you ("If you feel that your looks aren't your strong point, but your personality is, then seek out people to date who are in the same category you are," Westheimer says on page 124).

However, Westheimer is, not suprisingly, a bit old-fashioned. She only once mentions alternative sexual lifestyles for a mere page and a half. She advocates the use of birth control - mostly the Pill - and developing a meaningful relationship prior to engaging in sexual intercourse.

She does exhibit some forward thinking with a section that addresses pre-orgasmic (frigid) women and the advocation of manual stimulation. She also bashes the valued assumption that both partners need to have simultaneous orgasms in order to have a satisfying sexual interlude, and that there are ways to achieve orgasm rather than coitus.

In a time when sex advice is handed out to essentially anyone who will listen, and the emergence of so-called medical experts like Dr. Laura Schlessinger and "Loveline's" Dr. Drew, Dr. Ruth has gone beyond the parameters of her favorite topic of sex to write this book.

But her advice has grown stale and stoic. Dr. Ruth was once a revolutionary dispenser of love advice, but like her followers, her advice has become flaccid.

The book, though logical and fairly comprehensive regarding college life, continually lacks in the area of timeliness. She seems to ignore, or mention only briefly, some pressing issues concerning today's college youth like the date rape pill and the one-night stand.

Dr. Ruth needs to stick with what she knows best, and that is sex. The book is a worthy attempt to break away from her usual rhetoric, but unfortunately does so with little flare. The book reads like any other first-year college manual.