Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Home Social aspects of sexuality Committed relationships The misunderstandings behind sexual dysfunction

The misunderstandings behind sexual dysfunction

True sexual dysfunctions are very rare. The word dysfunction implies that something is not working properly. To define dysfunctional we need to know what normal functioning is. We also need to be explicit about whether we are talking about reproductive function, orgasm or emotional pleasure.

A woman may feel miserable if she cannot conceive but sexual dysfunction tends to focus on orgasm rather than reproductive capability. Certainly, male dysfunction does not relate to whether a man can impregnate a woman. A man feels life is hardly worth living if he cannot get an erection, which is a prerequisite for a man to engage in any kind of sexual activity.

What we call sexual dysfunction today is more often a mismatch between expectation and reality. Men and women feel inadequate because of unrealistic media images based on fictional material. The vast majority of people never question their sexual experiences. Very few people ever visit a marriage counsellor or a sex therapist. Most people’s expectations of sex are very low. They accept their sexual experiences for what they are. They never once consider that they might be sexually dysfunctional. Most couples intuitively accept a man’s greater interest and a woman’s lower interest in sex. Consequently, few couples ever discuss sexual pleasuring. Some women even assume the sensations of intercourse equate to orgasm.

Most women are too embarrassed about sex to expect much. They generally prefer to go along with male initiative. Unlike male dysfunction, women can easily fake orgasm if necessary. So women never need to admit a lack of orgasm. Most men accept silence as evidence that a woman enjoys sex even if she is passive and unenthusiastic. Faking is easy and keeps everyone feeling reassured that their sexuality conforms with social norms.

If a woman admits to a lack of orgasm, the conclusion is that one or both partners are dysfunctional (either the man is not providing the correct stimulation or the woman is inhibited in some way). No one wants to think there’s something wrong with them so men and women support each other in beliefs that make both feel normal. Consequently no one is interested in facts and logic indicating that female orgasm is not possible with a lover.

Others either expect more or they assume that experts must know answers to questions no one else can answer. They spend money on consulting therapists and either give up or are satisfied that they have done their best. The research findings have indicated some of these facts. But no one wants to accept them. Many people seem to prefer sexual ignorance to facts.

Given most women’s lack of interest in masturbation and their passivity with a lover, it is assumed that a lover must stimulate a woman to orgasm. Everyone assumes that women should orgasm through intercourse because it is the key reproductive act. Given the misconception that sexual pleasure relies on purely physical stimulation, women assume that they might orgasm if stimulated for long enough. So women hold their partner responsible for their inability to orgasm because men ejaculate quickly through intercourse.

Female sexual dysfunction is based on the male belief that women should orgasm from the stimulation provided by intercourse. This reliance on male expertise is evidence of women’s ignorance over orgasm and how it is achieved. Many women, who are unresponsive, are not bothered about a lack of orgasm. FSD affects responsive women (who know what an orgasm is) because their expectations are set much higher than other women.

Intercourse is a mating act. As long as a man can ejaculate into a vagina he has succeeded. Telling a man he is also supposed to thereby cause a woman to orgasm only leads him to feel inadequate when it doesn’t happen. Women’s demands for equality and men’s motivation to please women puts the responsibility for female orgasm on men. Given female apathy towards sex, some men worry that their penis isn’t big enough or that they can’t maintain an erection for long enough to simulate a woman to orgasm.

We are told that women need a man with a loving attitude to enjoy sex. But emotional factors have nothing to do with orgasm. Sex is easy in a new relationship. A man’s sex drive and easy arousal makes a woman feel appreciated. Decades later it is not necessarily so easy. A woman often feels that sex is expected. A man needs to understand the emotional factors that motivate a woman to provide a man with the sexual interaction he enjoys.

Men’s responses are very evident. Given women’s silence on sexual topics, men have traditionally also defined female sexuality. Sexual activity is typically described in terms of genital stimulation and orgasm. Media images that exaggerate women’s true responsiveness are so persuasive that women feel obliged to refer to orgasm as if it occurs naturally in their lives.

Women who never experience orgasm can claim to orgasm every which way as men would like to believe. Men believe almost anything they are told about female orgasm because they have no idea how women truly orgasm. Most women never experience orgasm, so they have nothing to miss.

The way sex is portrayed in the media and in films often provides us with a base of comparison that is not always realistic for the individual. (Andrea Burri 2012)