Female Orgasm And Sexual Desire

Sex and Orgasm

Women have been the targets of many unreasonable ideas about how they should behave sexually. For centuries they have been educated to believe that they are sexually inferior to men. They have been told that they are only castrated versions of men and that they are not really as sensitive to sexual stimuli as men.

Pseudoscientific pronouncements have been utilized to reinforce such beliefs. As already shown, the empirical findings have not supported assumptions about women being sexually defective. It is true that women are less consistently able to attain orgasm in heterosexual intercourse than are men.

However, it is highly probable that this is a reflection of certain special kinds of fears about separation from love objects that are generated by the way in which girls are socialized in most cultures. One would expect the orgasm consistency differential between the sexes to diminish (as it may already show signs of doing in the Kinsey research) when the feminine role is less radically defined in terms of dependence and winning the love of a protector.

One of the most radical sources of feelings of sexual inadequacy in women has been the proscription that sexual arousal through direct clitoral stimulation does not have the same validity as arousal elicited by vaginal stimulation. Women have been led to believe that they are neurotic, unhealthy, and immature if they prefer clitoral to vaginal stimulation.

Once again the empirical facts indicate how badly they have been misled. Women who favor direct clitoral stimulation are in no way unusually immature or maladjusted. It is obvious from both the quantitative and qualitative material collected by the writer that each woman has fairly special patterns of preference about attaining arousal, and that there is no basis for asserting that any one pattern is “healthier” than another. Furthermore, the writer’s data indicate that direct clitoral manipulation plays a far larger role in attaining orgasm than previously suspected.

Only 20 percent of a sample questioned indicated that they never require the assistance of a final “Push” from direct clitoral stimulation in order to attain orgasm while engaged in intercourse. Only 7 percent of the women in several samples endorsed the statement that vaginal stimulation contributes “much more” to orgasmic arousal than does clitoral stimulation. Sixty-four percent of one sample indicated that if they had to choose between clitoral and vaginal stimulation, they would settle for the clitoral.

One can only guess that the elaborate fictions invented by men about the superiority of the so called vaginal orgasm reflect the fact that they themselves enjoy a sexual relationship with a woman more when the penis is vaginally inserted than when it is not. In any case, there is no longer any rational reason for burdening women with restrictions on what is the “proper” way for them to reach orgasm in a relationship with a man.

Until evidence to the contrary appears, it must be urged that those who make decisions about whether women are psychologically maladjusted and in need of treatment not use sexual responsiveness as one of their judgmental criteria. The available findings simply do not indicate a convincing relationship between degree of psychological disturbance and almost any aspect of sexual behavior. Obviously, this conclusion clashes with some of the major viewpoints prevailing among professionals who dispense psychotherapeutic treatment.

However, it is now clearly necessary to articulate a challenge to those who use limited sexual responsiveness in a woman as a sign of her poor “mental health.” The accumulated empirical observations place the burden of proof upon them. This is not to argue that psychotherapeutic techniques may not help women with orgasmic difficulties, but only that such difficulties should be regarded as occurring within a limited region of the personality and need not be representative of the state of other personality regions.

There has also been an unfortunate tendency to associate most of the reproductive functions of the human female with pathological psychological states. It has been customary to portray the menstruating or pregnant woman as being in a delicately balanced and troubled psychological condition. However, the studies to be found in the literature that bear on such phenomena do not support this idea.

It may be true that women are more troubled than usual during the premenstrual phase and the postpartum phase, but this does not seem to be true during the major portions of menstruation or pregnancy. The clarification of this point is really important because many women maintain their psychological stability during menstruation and pregnancy despite being indoctrinated with false expectations that things must go psychologically wrong at these times.

One cannot help but wonder whether the idea that a woman’s reproductive functions are disturbing to her psychologically have not been promulgated by men who perceive the events that occur in women’s bodies as terribly different from those occurring in their own bodies-and, therefore, suggesting a strange, alien, and disturbing quality.

Treatment of Orgasm Difficulties

What deductions can be made from the findings that might be helpful in assisting an adult woman who has difficulty in attaining orgasm? This is a complex question because there are so many “assistance” might be provided. It could be offered in relatively simplistic ways involving direct intervention in immediate family and living arrangements, at one extreme, and esoteric psychotherapeutic procedures, at the other extreme.

One can only review some of the possibilities that take on pertinence in the light of the fact that orgasm difficulties were observed to be linked to concern about the instability or potential loss of love objects. It will remain for future work to define the utility of these possibilities.

Attainment of orgasm is one of the prime ways of defining sexual responsiveness. This is true despite the often discussed fact that there are other important feelings and sensations linked with intercourse that, in individual cases, may be even more important than the orgasm itself. In general, orgasm is a major criterion of sexual responsiveness, whether one evaluates it from the private perspective of the individual’s own feelings or that based on more public norms and expectations. Because it is assigned so much importance, as compared to other kinds of feelings and sensations, there has been surprise, amounting almost to consternation, at the repeated research findings that about 30 percent of all married women either do not ever attain orgasm or do so only occasionally.

These findings have been interpreted by some to mean that a large segment of women in our culture do not get very aroused by, or really enjoy, sexual stimulation. Observations from the writer’s studies would argue that this is an overstatement. It will be recalled that the women in the seven samples did generally value sexual stimulation and did assign considerable importance to it in their lives, despite their not infrequent difficulties in achieving orgasm.

But there still remains the puzzling question as to why so many women lack the ability to mass their excitement to the orgasm threshold. One of the most popular explanations is that many women are brought up puritanically and have so much anxiety and inhibition about sexual matters that they respond negatively when exposed to sexual stimulation.

A second explanation places the burden of failure upon the male partner who is portrayed as inadequate in his sexual approach; he is said to be too aggressive and shocking in his sexual behavior or not willing to deliver sexual stimulation for a sufficiently sustained period or not bestowing it in the correct proportions to certain anatomical areas as compared to others (for example, clitoral versus vaginal).

The explanation based on puritanical upbringing is difficult to sustain in the face of several contradictory facts. First of all. no one has been able to detect a convincing link between orgasm consistency and religiosity, except perhaps in a few extreme instances. Terman (1938, 1951) could find no significant correlations between orgasm indices and measures of religiosity (such as church attendance, religious affiliation); this was essentially true also in the Kinsey, et al. (1953) study (except for a small, extremely devout Catholic sample).

It will also be recalled that the writer failed to find a significant correlation, across numerous samples, between orgasm consistency and indices of religiosity based on church attendance, self-ratings, and a formal measure of religious values. There were similar negative results in relating orgasm consistency to the woman’s recall of how religious her parents had been. Since it is logical to assume that the amount of puritanical inhibition about sex that a woman would encounter in her family as she grew up would be positively related to the religiosity of the family atmosphere, the lack of correlation between orgasm consistency and religiosity is not congruent with the puritanical hypothesis. 

A Review of Orgasm Arts and The Female Orgasm Blueprint