Difficulties in assessing women’s sexuality

Intercourse is a mating act. The purpose of intercourse is to facilitate male orgasm and ejaculation of semen into the vagina. Female orgasm is not involved in this reproductive process. A woman only experiences orgasm because of how the sexes have evolved. Men and women have different internal reproductive anatomy but we each have a phallus. Women who have the ability to respond positively to eroticism, stimulate the internal clitoral organ in an instinctive thrusting motion when they are alone. Even responsive women masturbate for pleasure not to satisfy a sexual need.

Men never witness female orgasm because women orgasm alone. Neither are men aware of how female turn-ons work because a woman achieves arousal by using fantasies that she prefers to keep private. So men’s idea of these phenomena is based on women’s behaviours (not their responses). Women are not nearly as flexible in the circumstances in which they can orgasm. This is because of the difference in arousal mechanism between men and women. It is also because of the limited nature of female orgasm.

Men’s sexuality is straightforward in the sense that men naturally focus on the mating act. Men are motivated to engage in intercourse because of the pleasures of thrusting, the release of orgasm and the satisfaction of ejaculation (the reproductive event). It has been assumed that women should orgasm from intercourse because of men’s drive to engage in penetrative sex. Most women never stimulate themselves. So the only time that their genitals are stimulated is when they are with a lover.

Researchers try to obtain answers from the general public. How do they expect to discover something from the public that they themselves do not know? Any heterosexual, male or female, should be aware of the anatomy and turn-ons involved in female orgasm if it occurs routinely with a lover. The problem with researching a topic that women know nothing about is that women cannot provide answers that they do not know themselves. Rather than conclude that women cannot explain erotic turn-ons because they are not aroused with a lover, men have assumed that women must be too modest or too timid to reveal details of this mysterious phenomenon.

Researchers focus on the key anatomy involved in orgasm but they don’t specify the kind of stimulation involved. What is not appreciated is that the stimulation that women need is very similar to the stimulation men use. Our fingers massage the blood flow within the corpora cavernosa. Simultaneously we thrust with our hips and clench our buttock muscles. This combined rhythmic motion (squeeze technique) massages the whole organ from outside (fingers massaging) as well as inside (pelvic muscles).

Most women have no idea how orgasm is achieved. So when researchers ask women about arousal and orgasm they get confusion not science. The more women are told that they should orgasm the more confusion there is. Women who have never had an orgasm, are unaware of just how inflexible the conditions are that a woman needs to orgasm. Due to ignorance of what an orgasm is, women can ascribe the word orgasm to almost any sensation, emotional or sensual, that they experience with a lover. The stimulation we use to masturbate is not learned from a book or even from another person. We use this technique instinctively. Once we have discovered a technique that causes orgasm we tend to stick with it. But stimulation is a red herring.

The real issue is the psychological arousal that causes us to stimulate our sex organ. Anyone who can orgasm knows what stimulation and what erotic turn-ons they need to use. Yet women are not asked to provide any evidence that they understand what orgasm involves (either mentally or physically). Women are asked simple yes-no questions such as “Do you orgasm?”. But no one tries to determine the validity of women’s orgasm claims. Women who are shocked (or even disgusted) by eroticism are assumed to achieve orgasm just because they engage in intercourse.

Women who promote sex anxiously insist that women enjoy sex. This is because men label anyone who is not interested in sex as inhibited or frigid. But none of these women can explain the anatomy or the erotic turn-ons involved in female orgasm. Women believe the fantasy of female arousal from erotic fiction as much as men do. This reflects universal ignorance over how orgasm is achieved. The idea that women should enjoy sex existed before any sex research was done. But this belief was always a male view. Men want women to be sexually willing so as to maximise their pleasure. The sex industry promotes this view because it makes money out of selling a fantasy view of women’s sexuality to heterosexual men.

Our definition of female sexuality needs to reflect reality and what women are physically and emotionally capable of achieving in the real world. We are limited by the responsiveness with which we are endowed. The advantage of a more realistic approach is that couples can build on what is practically achievable rather than hanker after the unachievable fantasy.

Let us ponder Beyoncé’s anthem “Single Ladies” with its ass-slapping, butt-chugging choreography. It basically says that if men want to keep hitting it, tapping it, or otherwise jumpin’ on it, they had better put a ring on it. (Joan Sewell 2010)