The Catherine Oxenberg Foundation is a human rights organization dedicated to reclaiming female sexuality from the cultural shadow.
Our focus is on empowering women to lead more embodied lives with the belief that increased aliveness in turn leads to increased engagement and activism. We seek to unleash a wider force of women’s values, vision and voice into the collective culture. Our deepest hope is to inspire more of the feminine principles and qualities of leadership such as inclusion, collaboration, mediation, and joy into the world.
We champion issues essential for the enhancement of female health and wellbeing – emotional, physical, and sexual – through the areas of research, rehabilitation and restoration.
Women have the right to accurate science-based knowledge about their bodies, they have the right to maintain complete sovereignty over their bodies, and they have the right to preserve the sanctity of their bodies.
Our Beliefs and Activities
The Foundation takes a panoramic approach to this somatic transformation, from providing foundational sexuality programs, to helping women to explore and heal their own sexual function, pleasure and possibility, to advancing the fields of sexual and relational research, to directly and courageously addressing the underbelly of sexual abuse, trauma and violence that is so tragically woven into our cultural fabric.
The full freedom we aspire to for women’s embodiment and sexual health can only become a reality in an environment where women are free from subjugation, exploitation and abuse.
Thus our mission calls us to both the light and darker dimensions of this issue, on the one hand helping women to learn about and fully claim the pleasure and self-healing aspects of sexual expression and helping couples to more fully embrace the sexual and physical aspects of their love, to addressing the symptoms of sexual repression and aggression in society such as sex trafficking, pornography and genital mutilation. To pursue the former without engaging the latter would be to pursue personal growth without a larger eye to collective pain and horrific immediate social tragedies, and to pursue the latter without also being a stand for what is every woman’s birthright would be to address the grim without offering a guiding light of what is possible in a fully expressed and wholesome sexuality.
Our deepest intention is to help support women to live lives filled with safety and personal sanctity first and foremost, to find embodiment and empowerment, to make a meaningful contribution to the cultural architecture shaping society and to provide legacy for generations with the important information and practices needed to create a healthy and flourishing relationship to female sexuality.
The foundation’s goal is to provide an evidence-based picture of female sexuality.
43% of the female population of the United States has been diagnosed with FSD: female sexual dysfunction. (National Institutes of Health)
Either this alarming statistic is evidence that almost half of American women are suffering from an epidemic of sexual anorexia or it is evidence of an epidemic of ignorance amongst the medical community driven by a masculinized view of sexuality and the medicalization of sex.
It is shocking that female sexuality is still a hidden area of medicine and lacks an honest, expert scientific approach. What becomes disturbingly obvious is that, as stated by Dr. Meredith Chivers, “doctors don’t have a baseline for what normal female sexuality looks like.”
The lack of scientific funding in this area of research only reinforces an insidious and persistent sexist bias.
Female genital anatomy and the physiology of female sexual function have been scientifically neglected.
Female genital mapping is consistently misrepresented in medical diagrams and textbooks, and in school sexual education and human biology classes.
Most often, the organs that pertain to female sexual pleasure are omitted. The clitoris, after taking a 500-year sabbatical from medical textbooks, only resurfaced in the 1980’s. A 2005 report from the American Urological Association states, “the anatomy of the clitoris has not been stable with time as would be expected. To a major extent its study has been dominated by social factors.”
The clitoris is analogous to female sexual pleasure; therefore, the lack of knowledge about it, and the entirety of the female erectile network, amplify inequality for women. Worse this negligence costs women the chance to fully inhabit their own skin, enter the stream of life force that a healthy sexuality enables and fosters and as a result to stay a far too passive voice in shaping our society at large.
The truth is that until science, and women, themselves, begin to take an accurate inventory of the female body, women remain susceptible to being exploited in both overt and covert ways.
The most popular cosmetic surgery amongst women today is labioplasty – aka vaginal rejuvenation – a form of genital mutilation involving surgical removal of
parts of the inner labia to make vulvas resemble those of pre-pubescent girls. The likelihood that those women were given an informed choice is zero. They were undoubtedly ignorant that they were amputating precious erectile tissue, potentially restricting their ability to experience pleasure and damaging the delicate neural network that extends from their clitoris.
We will provide funding for rescue and long-term rehabilitation for victims of sex trafficking in the USA, and collaborate with other agencies across the country to strengthen the network of outreach and support. We will document all aspects of our rescues, the victims’ and witness testimonies, and our investigative efforts, for the purpose of developing awareness, building a body of evidence that can be used to prosecute traffickers, and helping to provide an accurate picture of the magnitude of the problem nationwide.
Integral to bringing sex trafficking to an end is the need to tackle other underlying factors. There is considerable evidence that the current opiate epidemic, which caused the United States government to declare a State of Emergency on July 31, 2017, plays a significant role in contributing to an increase of sex trafficking. Traffickers are using the desperation that accompanies addiction to their advantage, fueling a criminal enterprise that creates enormous profits from the exploitation of the vulnerable – primarily women.
“Traffickers learn that it’s very lucrative to sell a girl,” Lisa Goldblatt Grace, director and co-founder of My Life My Choice, a Boston nonprofit focused on combating the commercial sexual exploitation of adolescents. “Drugs you can only sell once; a girl you can sell over and over again.”
SC State Attorney General Alan Wilson called the global human trafficking scourge a “$150 billion a year criminal enterprise,” second only to drug trafficking.
The Department of Homeland Security defines human trafficking as a “modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.”
“There are more human slaves in the world than at any other time in history. Almost every country in the world is affected by trafficking.” – Robyn Causey, a licensed social worker, considered a national expert in human trafficking, domestic violence, corrections and vulnerable youth.
The United States is a destination and transit country for human trafficking into the sex industry.
According to the Department of State, there are approximately 244,000 American children and youth that are at risk for sex trafficking each year.
“This affects every community, every state, and every level of income. These are truly modern day slaves hidden in plain sight.”- Kim Biddle – MSW, founder and executive director of Saving Innocence.
Typically, the recovery rate is less than 1% of the actual trafficked population. The Department of Justice has confirmed that care facilities specifically designed to support trafficked children can give shelter to less than 100 of them. F.B.I. policy is to place these rescued victims into juvenile halls, which sends the message to these children that they are criminals.
In the words of advocate Greg Hannley, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Soba Recovery Centers, “The victims of sex trafficking I come in contact with are usually victims of substance abuse, therefore to really make a difference, we need to rescue these victims from the grips of both the humans and the substances that hold them hostage.”
According to UNICEF, 200 million women alive today have suffered FGM, female genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation is still remarkably common — mainly in Africa, but also in some countries in Asia and the Middle East and in immigrant communities in Europe and the U.S.
The procedure, which involves removing or cutting all or some of young girls’ outer genitalia, is a painful and traumatic experience for the up to 3 million girls and teens who get it every year. It’s also dangerous, according to public health groups that adamantly denounce the practice. But it’s still regularly performed because of the cultural or religious belief that women should not be allowed to experience sexual pleasure. As recently as April 2017, two 7-year Minnesota girls were subjected to the barbaric procedure by a Detroit doctor.
Reconstructive surgery, aka clitoral restoration, has been available in France since 2004 and is covered by national health insurance. At least one U.S. doctor also does the surgery, but few patients are able to get their insurance companies to pay for it. Furthermore, most of victims are unaware the surgery even exists.
The reconstructive surgery was pioneered by French urologist, Dr. Pierre Foldes, but very few doctors have been trained to perform the procedure.
There is an urgent need to abolish this barbaric practice, and in the interim, to train and subsidize doctors to perform the reconstructive surgery so that victims can regain some semblance of a normal life.
Foundation Advisory Board
Daniel Amen MD
Psychiatrist and founder of the Amen Clinics.
Speaker at TEDx, on “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” and on “The Most Important Lesson from 83,000 Brain Scans.”
Meredith L. Chivers, PhD, CPych Associate Professor, Department of Psychology Queen’s University | Member, Centre for Neuroscience | Faculty of Arts & Science| Director, Sexuality and Gender Laboratory (Sagelab) | Queen’s National Scholar | CIHR New Investigator
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH
Director, The Center for Sexual Health Promotion
Professor, Dept of Applied Health Science
School of Public Health – Bloomington
Research Fellow, The Kinsey Institute
Indiana University, President ASSECT
Barry Komisaruk PhD Rutgers University Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor Associate Dean of the Graduate School
Adjunct Professor, Dept. Radiology, New Jersey College of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
James G. Pfaus, PhD, IF Professor and Concordia Research Fellow Past President, International Academy of Sex Research Fellow, International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology Department of Psychology, Concordia University Montréal, QC Canada
Debra Wickman, MD, MS, FACOG, NCMP Section Head, Female Sexual Medicine, Menopause, Vulvar/Vaginal Disorders; Women’s Institute, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Banner University Medical Center – Phoenix; Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology; University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix.
Beverly Whipple, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emerita, Rutgers University
Past- Vice president and Secretary General/Treasurer, World Association for Sexual Health (WAS)
Past-president, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)
Past-president, American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT)
Past- Director, International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
Nan Wise, PhD
Certified Sex Therapist, AASECT
Certified Relationship Specialist, The American Psychotherapy Association
Assistant Research Professor, Psychology, Rutgers-Newark
Fellow, The American Psychotherapy Association
Fellow, The National Board for Clinical Hypnotherapists
Board Certified Diplomate, The American Board of Examiners in Social Work
The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH), the International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM), the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT), and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT).
Donate to the foundation here.