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Anti-War Couple Conceive New Way to Generate Peace
Published on Monday, November 20, 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Anti-War Couple Conceive New Way to Generate Peace
by Joe Garofoli
 
Living on their houseboat off the Marin County coast, anti-war activists Donna Sheehan and her partner, Paul Reffel, concocted a way for the world to communally create a lot of peaceful vibes.

They want everyone to have an orgasm on the same day.


Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffel flash the secret Global Orgasm for Peace (GOP) sign as they stand on the deck of their home in Marshall. They say participants shouldn't worry if they don't have partners. Chronicle photo by Chris Stewart
On Dec. 22, they're asking the world to contribute to the Global Orgasm for Peace. Sheehan said not to worry if you don't have a partner.

Busy multitaskers shouldn't despair about trying to cram this global activism into their busy schedules, either, she said. Take any time during the 24-hour period at the beginning of the winter solstice to join the demonstration. Just make sure to think of peace before or after participating.

Once you've committed, there's even a secret sign to show others that you plan to take part: Flash the universal "OK" sign and wink. Or, as it has been redubbed, "The O" sign.

Reffel and Sheehan are not just tossing off this idea. They're pros at launching global peace demonstrations. In the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq four years ago, Sheehan and a few dozen of her new best friends stripped naked and spelled out "Peace" on a Marin County field. As photos of their naked activism spread, similar so-called Baring Witness demonstrations were replicated dozens of times from Australia to the conservative nether regions of Utah.

Their activism was rearoused recently when they heard about two U.S. warships camped out around the Middle East, activity they fear portends war with Iran.

Having experienced the futility of petitioning international leaders through mass nudity before the Iraq war, the pair decided to ramp up their tactics.

While the Global O may sound much like other collective actions attempted over the years, the O's organizers promise something more on their Web site: "The combination of high-energy orgasmic energy combined with mindful intention may have a much greater effect than previous mass meditations and prayers."

Just pick a time.

"We wanted to make it during the cocktail hour," Sheehan said. "But since everybody is on a different time, then it would be harder for everybody to participate."

In a manner that could only be birthed in the fertile energy fields of the Bay Area, the Global O for Peace ties together activism, sexual identity, gender roles, the fledgling effort to measure global consciousness and the movement of battleships. The GOP -- initials likely creating the only link to the Republican Party deep in liberal Marin County -- is about more than the latest anti-war tactic.

Personally, Sheehan's experiences with the Baring Witness demonstrations opened up new avenues of self-exploration for the 76-year-old artist. Since then, she has learned more about how women can initiate courtship, sex and peace, culminating this year in a book she and Reffel wrote, "Redefining Seduction."

Not surprisingly, the Global O isn't the first effort to synchronize pleasure in the name of peace. Or even just in the name of synchronized pleasure. For several years, a weekly climax has been coordinated online (Webcams optional), and sexuality experts say there have been several other attempts to link pleasure and peace.

"Yes, the vast majority of global orgasm coordinations have been firmly rooted in San Francisco," said Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at San Francisco's Good Vibrations store and a nationally recognized expert on sexuality. "It is natural to link pleasure and peace. If you're experiencing pleasure, you're not engaging in aggressive, destructive behavior. "

Not all such efforts have been successful. Queen's partner, Robert Lawrence, who is president of the Center for Sex and Culture, remembers participating in synchronized pleasure-for-peace demonstrations in the early 1990s.

The results?

"Shortly thereafter, I left my partner at the time," Lawrence said. "It wasn't exactly the peace I was looking for."

Queen said the orgasm-challenged shouldn't be discouraged from participating Dec. 22. In fact, knowing their efforts are going toward creating world peace "might actually relieve some of the anxiety they feel around their sexuality that leads to problems in that area."

While Queen plans to set aside "20 minutes to two hours" for her Dec. 22 demonstration, her partner, Lawrence, is not.

"I think I've got a meeting that day," Lawrence said. "I'm really busy."

But you've got 24 hours to participate.

"Oh, all right," Lawrence said. "I think I can work it in, then."

While this is one anti-war demonstration sure to leave its participants smiling, measuring its global impact might be more problematic.

What's troubling some activists is that the carrier Eisenhower has pulled into the Arabian Sea to replace the Enterprise, which was scheduled to return to Virginia on Saturday, according to a Navy spokesman. The Boxer Expeditionary Strike Force, warships loaded with Marines and their battle equipment, is in the Persian Gulf now.

Getting them to turn around will be challenging.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Maj. Dave Smith said he has never heard of coordinated global energy affecting the battleship movements before.

"But I've only been here since June," Smith said. "I've been told that there are no absolutes about anything."

Would that preclude his plans to participate in the Dec. 22 demonstration?

"I'm not going to answer that one," Smith said.

No matter how many people participate, don't look for any increased seismic activity to show up on the Richter scale.

"The filters we have screen out any man-made activity, like a truck rolling past, or uh, the activity you described," said U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna.

So when somebody says, "Baby, you just made the earth move," that's just hyperbole, huh?

"I guess reality is whatever you perceive it to be," said Hanna, speaking seismically. She was equally vague on her Dec. 22 plans.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Hanna said. "It sounds like, uh, an interesting idea."

Perhaps the only way to measure its effect will be through the New Jersey-based Global Consciousness Project. Run by volunteers who monitor a network of dozens of random number generators around the world, the project looks for any correlation between the numbers produced and significant, shared events like elections, terrorist attacks or New Year's Eves that could signal the existence of some sort of global consciousness.

Project director Roger Nelson said he will look for any data blips around Dec. 22 if the Global O Project becomes a significant worldwide event. Regardless, Nelson has no qualms about potentially corrupting his data by taking part in a little global activism.

"If luck befalls me," Nelson said. "Who knows?"

Even skeptics like Jim Underdown, who investigates paranormal matters in California for the Center for Inquiry-West, plans to join in the fun -- even if he believes there is no way to transmit energy from one's brain to achieve a physical result.

"You don't need a good reason to have an orgasm," he said. "Even a stupid one is OK."

For more information about the demonstration go to globalorgasm.org/.

©2006 San Francisco Chronicle

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