We are all capable of achieving the basics in any field, whether academic, sport or music, for example. But some people excel in these areas because they are gifted. Such people may be admired for their talents but they are an anomaly. Their ability makes them unusual. But they are not abnormal. For them this ability is quite normal. It is just how they were born. We inherit a combination of genes from our parents that makes each of us a unique individual. The same is true of responsiveness.
Alfred Kinsey emphasised that for both sexes there is a huge range in responsiveness (frequency with which we orgasm) that defines ‘normal’. Human beings are often wary of those who are different. This makes it very difficult (if not impossible) even for individuals of the same sex to relate to the experience of someone with a very different responsiveness. People who have an interest in sex beyond the average are unusual. But they often fail to realise that they are so unusual because of the way that sex drive and responsiveness are exaggerated in pornography and other erotic fiction.
Sexual responsiveness measures the ability of a person to become erotically aroused to the point of orgasm. Responsiveness refers to the frequency with which an individual experiences orgasm. Responsiveness is not only associated with the frequency of orgasm but also with the time a person typically needs to reach orgasm. The most responsive a person is, the more frequently they orgasm and the less time they need for orgasm.
The importance of eroticism and the frequency with which we engage in sexual activity is a matter of personal preference but also our sexual responsiveness. It is the taboo nature of sexual activity that causes us to feel sexually aroused. Sexual phenomena (such as masturbation or gay sex) are alien to us until we discover that we enjoy them personally. Similarly, once we experience arousal we see the positives in eroticism. Anyone who objects to eroticism does not understand the nature of arousal.
Since responsiveness is a male characteristic, men are much more responsive on average than women are.
Kinsey’s work highlighted the range of responsiveness within the sexes. For example, some women in his sample said they experienced orgasm many times a day and some men said that they only orgasm once every few weeks. But on average (for his total sample) men were up to 6 times more responsive than women. For men under 30 the average is 3 times per week. Male sex drive declines with age but even by 60 male frequencies have not fallen to the female level. Even after drinking alcohol men can still orgasm through intercourse, especially when younger.
A woman who is responsive (who masturbates to orgasm) is highly unusual. Responsiveness is a harmless aspect of female sexuality that surfaces in random individuals. There is no advantage for a woman who is responsive. Not only do women orgasm much less commonly and less frequently than men do, they also need much longer to reach orgasm. Women experience orgasm most naturally through masturbation alone.
Sexual responsiveness does not arise because an individual has some special knowledge or techniques. If we are responsive that was how we were born. A responsive individual discovers orgasm and then develops the associated techniques. This process occurs quite spontaneously and without conscious planning.
Alfred Kinsey decided that the emotional aspects of sex would be too subjective and open to personal interpretation. They would be too difficult to measure and compare between individuals. He chose to use responsiveness as an objective measure of sexual activity. There is a natural male tendency to introduce competition and to make quantitative rather than qualitative judgements about individual experiences. This is a male perspective on sexual function. But just because women do not orgasm as frequently or as easily as men does not mean that they are not sexual. Sexuality is much broader than responsiveness.
Why do we need to measure sexuality in the first place? A much more useful approach it to seek to understand how men and women can enjoy sexual pleasure and how relationships endure. Researchers should establish women’s motivation to enjoy sexual activity alone and with a lover, their appreciation of erotic fantasies and their willingness to explore a variety of sex play with a lover.
It is also useful to understand how satisfied people are with their sexual experiences. Much of this satisfaction is about expectations rather than any absolute orgasm frequency. Erotic fiction causes us to find real sex lacking. We should take into account the quality factors in sexual activity. One orgasm obtained from emotionally or erotically rewarding activity may be worth many times other orgasms that are simply functional sexual releases.
Thus, between adolescence and fifteen years of age there were 78 per cent, and among other teenage girls there were 53 per cent who were not reaching orgasm in any type of sexual activity. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)