Sex education must be able to explain and justify how orgasm is achieved by someone regardless of gender and orientation. Equally there needs to be a reconciliation between how someone achieves orgasm alone and how they achieve the same thing with a lover.
Orgasm is a unique experience that involves both physical stimulation and mental arousal. Just as men and women (or gays and heterosexuals for that matter) experience responses such as hunger or anger in much the same way, they must also experience orgasm similarly (as long as we are talking about the same phenomenon).
We need to contrast the different stimulation men and women obtain from various sexual activities: masturbation alone, oral sex and intercourse. It is simply not possible for a woman to orgasm by stimulating different anatomy on one occasion compared with another. Nor is it possible for one woman to orgasm in one way and another in a totally different way.
We must understand the similarities and differences between men and women’s orgasm techniques. We assume that women must orgasm in similar situations to men. So we assume that they must orgasm during intercourse because men do. But the anatomy and the physiology of the act is completely different for a woman compared to a man.
The vagina is a complement to the penis during mating. We also assume women are able to orgasm through oral sex because men do. But in this case the female anatomy is a parallel to the male anatomy. So which is it: vaginal or clitoral stimulation? And if both, how exactly …?
We should compare heterosexual lovemaking techniques with male homosexual and lesbian sex play. Heterosexuals tend to think of gays as being completely different from everyone else. We never consider comparing the orgasm techniques used by gay men and lesbians with those used by heterosexuals. We even assume that lesbian women must use different orgasm techniques to those used by heterosexual women.
Female masturbation is associated with lesbians because of the masculine connotations of the clitoris. But responsiveness varies among women, gay and straight, just as it does among men. Gay women do not masturbate any more commonly or more frequently than straight women do. The anatomy involved in orgasm has to be consistent for all women (regardless of sexual orientation) whether they are alone or with a lover (regardless of their lover’s gender).
We need to understand responsiveness in explicit terms. We must develop a model for how orgasm is achieved in general. The key issue relating to stimulation is that we always stimulate our sex organ if we are aiming for orgasm. This is very apparent for men who never consider stimulating any anatomy other than their penis when heading for orgasm. The issue is much less apparent for women because of their lower sexual responsiveness. The political and emotional pressure on women to describe vaginal stimulation (through intercourse) as orgasmic is also particularly misleading.
Whereas men rely on explicit eroticism (pornography) for their psychological sexual arousal, it is often mistakenly assumed that female sexual arousal depends on emotional criteria. This misunderstanding arises for a variety of reasons. First, women tend to associate sexual activity with a loving relationship. Second, many women are uncomfortable with the kind of explicit eroticism that causes arousal. Third, women can rarely account for their psychological arousal so they tend to talk about the relationship.
Kinsey’s approach using private interviews was more likely to succeed but even then researchers have to be willing to challenge what they are being told. Under the pretext of making everyone feel good about their sexuality, we currently accept almost any account of female orgasm (even orgasmic hair-brushing!). We never question or challenge the logic involved in how women believe orgasm is possible.
The problem with this approach is that it is so popular with men that it becomes the only view of women’s sexuality that is acceptable. Women who know what is possible are made to feel inadequate or abnormal. This is wrong. We need to explain that it’s important for all of us to feel that our sexual experiences are acceptable or ‘normal’. But we must differentiate between responses to eroticism and emotional sensations with a lover.
Researchers assume that when women talk about orgasm that they are all talking about the same phenomenon. But even when masturbating some women are talking purely about physical sensations (muscle spasms). Others are talking about arousal that arises from using erotic fantasy.
Most of the female masturbatory techniques are labial, or more often, clitoral. A high proportion of the female homosexual relations similarly depend upon stimulation of the vulva or the clitoris. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)