Learn About Sexuality

Sexual pleasure need not always focus on orgasm

A sex education should include a description of the main techniques that can be used to pleasure men and women. It should be made explicit whether such techniques are intended to assist with orgasm or whether they involve purely emotional and sensual sensations.

When we suggest that a couple spends some ‘sexy’ time together, the inference is that they engage in intercourse or other genitally focused activity. But women can find spending time with a lover cuddled up on the sofa watching a sentimental film, very sexy. They may also find spending time having a romantic dinner is sexy. We tend to define sex and sexy in the way that men understand these words, in terms of eroticism.

When you look at how lesbians spend their intimate time, there is much less time spent on genital stimulation. Lesbians enjoy spending companionable time together and engaging in affectionate sex play, such as kissing and cuddling, sensual and emotional activities. They may just watch a movie together, talk or go for a long walk.

Heterosexuals often have difficulty imagining what lesbians do in bed. For heterosexuals, sexual activity is determined by a man’s sex drive. A woman does very little except allow him to penetrate her vagina and thrust until ejaculation. Foreplay depends on how much a man enjoys the arousal he feels from exploring a lover’s body. Over time often sex becomes just intercourse with no kissing either before or after.

Because of their sex drive, men naturally assume that the function of sex for everyone is to focus on sexual activity that culminates in orgasm. They assume that women respond as they do and that they must want to engage in ‘lovemaking’ that focuses on genital stimulation. But genital stimulation is only pleasurable if you are aroused and women are not aroused (enough to orgasm) with a lover.

When a woman loves another person she is typically motivated to demonstrate some level of affection. This involves kissing and caressing a lover’s body. She is not primarily inclined to focus on a lover’s genitals. But if she knows that genital stimulation pleases a lover then she may.

Men approach sexual activity (alone or with a lover) already aroused and so stimulation leads to orgasm. Women are not spontaneously aroused and so stimulation does not guarantee orgasm. Therefore, women often engage in sex without ever having an orgasm. A woman accepts that female orgasm is difficult to achieve so she hopes to enjoy more general pleasuring with a lover.

Sexual activity (alone or with a partner) can include psychological (emotional and erotic) and physical (sensual and genital) stimuli that may be delightful but that do not necessarily result in orgasm. This issue is vital in appreciating the confusion over female orgasm.

In bed women enjoy being admired and caressed. A relaxing massage and other non-sexual touching compensates for the lack of arousal to some extent. Men are bored by such things but this is why women don’t want sex. Because it involves investing in someone else’s pleasure with no payback for yourself.

A woman does not get the same emotional fulfilment from sex that men seem to. But that does not mean that a woman cannot ‘enjoy’ sex. A woman can appreciate many aspects of sensual pleasuring because she has no need for genital stimulation (orgasm).

Men would like to be able to continue having sex for as long as possible. Intercourse, including the sensations of penetration and thrusting, for men is immensely enjoyable. But orgasm ends men’s interest in sexual activity.

Both heterosexual and homosexual men can become obsessed with their own performance and a lover’s as if sex is a competitive sport. Most people also enjoy the non-orgasmic aspects of sex, the build-up of arousal and the sense of emotional connection with a lover.

Women today who have been trained as marriage counsellors or as medical doctors are apparently unaware that their instruction has been based on male dominated beliefs. No woman is confident to talk about orgasm so men tell them how their sexuality should work. The political message is that every adult should be capable of orgasm both alone and with a lover.

Women are obliged to explain their orgasms in terms of the vagina or the clitoris. It makes little difference. The end effect is the same. Women are supposed to orgasm with a lover at some point by some means and this justifies women’s participation in sexual activity that might otherwise be attributed to male sex drive. This is politics. It is not science or honesty.

Women, more often than men, report that they find sex to be pleasurable even if they do not orgasm. … many women enjoy the intimacy that sex provides, the kissing, touching, closeness, etc. (Debby Herbenick 2015)

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