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The misunderstandings behind sexual dysfunction

True sexual dysfunctions are very rare. The word dysfunction implies that something is not working properly. In order to define dysfunction, we must first define normal functioning. We also need to specify whether we are talking about reproductive function, erotic 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. So sexual dysfunction tends to be defined in terms of orgasm or in terms of a woman’s willingness to engage in intercourse because both of these are so vital to men’s happiness. But it is important to appreciate that women have no need for orgasm and no need for intercourse unless they want to have a baby.

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is based on the belief that women should orgasm from intercourse. Media images that portray women apparently responding to the point of orgasm with a lover are so persuasive that women feel obliged to refer to orgasm as if it occurs naturally in their lives. Many women, who never orgasm, assume that they do, just as men say they should.

Every year billions of dollars are paid to the sex therapists by couples who are frustrated when female orgasm doesn’t occur as they think it should. Yet the published research findings (Alfred Kinsey) clearly indicate that women are much less responsive than men. In the past women were called frigid, today they are called dysfunctional. Only the terminology has changed. In the past women were told it was their duty to provide sex. Today women are told they should enjoy sex. If they don’t, there are still no answers. The idea that women orgasm with a lover is defended vehemently because of sexual politics. Women are under intense pressure from society to offer intercourse and no one sees any problem in threatening women with sexual inadequacy. Whether we believe in the fantasy or not, makes no difference. Men need regular intercourse regardless of women’s response to it. Women must offer intercourse to obtain a man’s moral or financial support to raise a family.

Men have no idea how women truly orgasm because female orgasm is only achieved when a responsive woman masturbates alone. Neither are men aware of how female turn-ons work because responsive women use surreal fantasies that they prefer to keep private. So men’s idea of these phenomena is based on women’s behaviours (not their responses). A woman just copies the porn actresses. Some women assume that the sensations of intercourse equate to orgasm. This is why they believe women need a man with a loving attitude to enjoy sex. But emotional factors have nothing to do with orgasm.

When talking about sex, adults often fail to take into account the very different sexual experiences we all have. We may also have very different responses to the same experience because of our different personalities. Most couples accept a man’s greater interest and a woman’s sexual passivity. Consequently, few couples ever discuss sexual pleasuring. FSD affects responsive women because (knowing what an orgasm feels like) their expectations for sexual activity with a lover are set much higher than others.

Sexologists explain women’s lack of response to intercourse in vague terms. They suggest that women who ask questions are inhibited or repressed for some inexplicable reason. They say that men are incompetent lovers who do not stimulate their female lover the right way (or for long enough). These suggestions make couples feel inadequate and cause huge embarrassment. The fact is that the vast majority of people accept their sexual experiences for what they are. They never consider that they might be dysfunctional because they don’t expect too much in the first place. Faking orgasm is easy and reassures couples that their sexual experiences conform to social norms.

Other couples seek help because over decades, women get bored of being a receptacle for their partner’s semen. The couple’s relationship suffers because a man stops getting the sex he wants and a woman feels unappreciated. Couples tend to assume that experts must know answers to questions no one else can answer. They spend money on consulting therapists but either give up or are satisfied that they have done their best.

What we call sexual dysfunction today is really just a mismatch between expectation and reality. Men and women feel inadequate because of the unrealistic media images based on fictional material. The research findings indicated that female orgasm is associated with female masturbation rather than sexual activity with a lover. But this finding is unpopular because few women masturbate and because men want women to respond to intercourse.

Women are not motivated to stimulate themselves with a lover. So it is assumed to be the man’s role to stimulate a woman. Given the ignorance over how female orgasm is achieved, 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. 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. This is all nonsense. Intercourse is a mating act. As long as a man can ejaculate into a vagina he has succeeded. Telling a man that the act is also supposed to cause female orgasm only leads him to feel inadequate when it doesn’t happen.

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)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)