There is little mystery to male sexuality. We have a good knowledge of how men enjoy sexual pleasure because of the evidence from pornography and prostitution. Female sexuality has always been more controversial.
Given the difficulty in identifying female arousal and orgasm, as soon as these phenomena became known, men assumed they must occur as a result of their efforts during intercourse. Some women are timid and prefer to avoid conflict. Some are politically astute enough to say only what is likely to benefit them. Others are just ignorant and inexperienced.
Researchers tend to focus on young women. Men tend to find younger women, not only more attractive but also, more sexually willing than older women. So men assume that young women must know more about orgasm. You could ask a man whether he thinks his mother is aroused by pornography. He might be willing to accept that she probably isn’t. But a man differentiates between the women he considers to be sexual (young and attractive) and older women. A man defines a sexual woman as a one he is attracted to as well as one who is amenable to intercourse.
It’s as if men believe that women have really terrible memories. Women presumably forget all those amazing orgasms that men have given them over decades of sexual experience. Perhaps men think that older women resent younger women for the attention they get from men. Like the wicked step-mother, older women just want to ruin their daughter’s chances of enjoying sexual pleasure. Research indicates that female responsiveness changes very little over time. Young women are generally unresponsive because women mature sexually at a later age than men, but no woman orgasms easily with a lover.
Mothers (and fathers) try to protect their daughters from men who are focused on their own pleasure. Even today, parents want a responsible man for their daughter who can provide for her. Fathers have slightly lower levels of responsiveness than younger men. But they know full well what goes through a young man’s mind that isn’t necessarily combined with a willingness to take responsibility for a woman’s welfare. If young women experience sensational pleasure, they are not likely to forget about it in the space of a few decades. The difference is that older women no longer need anything from men. Young women are looking for a supportive mate.
Younger women are also dismissive of older women’s experience. They assume that they are the first generation of women to put effort into pleasing men in bed. In reality each generation has a very similar experience. Younger women dismiss any cautionary advice with the bravado that accompanies their greater sexual motivation. They are full of romantic illusions and sexual curiosity because of inexperience, ignorance and the optimism of youth. So older women keep quiet, realising that their more jaded view is not appreciated.
Older women may not know how to achieve their own orgasm. But they have enough experience to know that it is not achieved through sexual activity with a lover. They know what they enjoy and what they don’t. Older women are more cynical about sexual pleasure because they know that they are not aroused by a lover. After decades of experience most women conclude that their earlier pleasure was emotional and related to the romance of a new relationship rather than erotic.
Most women simply do not know how female arousal and orgasm are achieved. So when researchers ask women about these phenomena they get confusion not science. The more women are told that they should orgasm the more confusion there is. Researchers assume that women orgasm as easily if not more easily than men do. Women are not restricted by the need to provide any kind of evidence that they understand what orgasm involves (either physically or psychologically). Most women are ignorant of how arousal occurs and unaware of the characteristics of sexual activity that is focused on achieving orgasm. So they substitute emotional sensations.
Men can’t have babies because they don’t have women’s reproductive biology. Everyone accepts this logic because men don’t want babies. But men do want women to have orgasms as and when they do. So the logic that women don’t have men’s reproductive biology is not accepted. If women were as sexually willing as men wanted, men might assume that women orgasm but they would not need to carry out research to prove it. Female orgasm is a hugely popular concept because of women’s reluctance to engage in intercourse as often as men would like.
Men are so keen to hear any account of female orgasm that they accept whatever women say regardless of credibility or common sense. This approach empowers women to describe orgasm in the emotional terms that they are comfortable with rather than the erotic terms men understand. There has been little acknowledgement that women are often mistaken about orgasm and that they are pressured into faking by a lover.
Sexuality is shaped by culture and history. For example, a hundred years ago a woman who loved sex could be regarded as being mentally disturbed, whereas today if you don’t love sex you could end up being diagnosed as dysfunctional. (Bella Ellwood-Clayton 2013)