This hypothesis is further contradicted by the writer’s findings that a woman’s recall of how permissive versus repressive her parents had been about sex does not correlate with her orgasm consistency. It is additionally pertinent that several studies (including the writer’s) have shown that the extent to which a woman recalls her parents as having personally participated in giving her sexual information is quite unrelated to her sexual responsiveness.
The puritanical hypothesis would, on the contrary, lead one to expect that since parents who refrain from giving information about sex probably are inhibited about sexuality, their children would have difficulties in sexual interactions. These measures of sexual enjoyment (for example, satisfaction after orgasm, self-rated sexual responsiveness) have also turned out to be unrelated to recall of how one’s parents behaved with respect to sexual matters.
A woman’s ability to be sexually responsive is – apparently – not linked with their attitudes about nudity and the display of one’s body, their degree of open display of affection toward each other, and their reaction to the onset of her menstruation. In other words, there is no empirical support for the idea that the parents’ formal or explicit behavior with regard to sexual matters has a profound effect upon their daughter’s psychological sexual development.
The parent who is open about sexual matters and who provides explicit sexual information is no more likely to produce a daughter without sexual response difficulties than the parent who is reserved in his communications about sex. Such data raise questions about the emphasis that some have placed upon the importance of the parent’s providing formal instruction about sexual matters to their children.
Formal information about sex may facilitate certain aspects of adaptation to sex role, but on the basis of the presently avail-able findings one would have to be skeptical that such information will make a fundamental difference in a woman’s ability to enjoy sexual stimulation. The notion that a woman’s orgasm difficulties reflect her husband’s poor, turned up few, if any, consistent correlations between diverse husband attributes (including sexual behavior) and wife’s orgasmic ability.
It is also true that Kinsey, et al. (1953) and others have generally been unable to show that a woman’s orgasm consistency is related to several different aspects of the husband’s sexual behavior (for example, how long he persists in applying sexual stimulation to his wife). In the present writer’s studies there were no consistent correlations between variables that certainly reflect the husband’s sexual behavior (number of intercourse positions, amount of foreplay, and duration of sexual stimulation) and the wife’s orgasm consistency.
However, such findings are not meant to imply that a husband’s particular pattern of sexual behavior does not importantly affect the content and “feel” of his wife’s sexual experiences, but only that it does not play a decisive role in whether she will reach orgasm. The probable picture that emerges is that beyond the point of delivering a certain necessary minimum of stimulation the husband’s sexual behavior is of secondary importance as to whether -his wife will build up to orgasmic excitement. At a later point, the potential role of the husband’s personality in this orgasmic process is further considered.
Of course, there can be no certainty on this matter until other studies are carried out in which more detailed information is obtained about male sexual behavior and its effect on female orgasm. In this respect, it might have been informative if the women in the writer’s studies had been asked to provide more data relative to this area, for example, whether their orgasm consistency has changed with different sex partners and if so, why this was so.
Let us review the factors that have been empirically shown to be correlated with a woman’s orgasm consistency. The results of the writer’s studies are first considered, but it must again be one of the primary findings was that the -greater a woman’s feeling that love objects are not dependable (that they are easily lost or will disappear) the less likely she is to attain orgasm. Women with orgasm difficulties were found to produce an elevated number of projective test themes referring to death and separation.
Also, there was actual evidence that such women are likely to have suffered the literal loss (through death) or functional loss (because of long periods of absence from home) of their fathers during childhood. These and related findings were explained in terms of a model that focuses upon the blurring of consciousness and the diminished “hold” upon what is “out there” by a woman as her sexual excitement mounts to the point of orgasm. It was theorized that the woman who feels that objects are undependable and who fears their loss finds the blurring of her relationships with objects that is produced by sexual excitement so threatening that she has to turn it off.
Presumably, she is made so uncomfortable by the loss implications of her excitement that the process of building up to orgasm is inhibited or blocked. It is essential to add that the concern about loss of objects is not a sign of personality disturbance. That is, there was no indication that women who do not attain orgasm consistently are generally more anxious or in poorer mental health than women who do reach orgasm consistently.
Concern about loss of objects may be viewed as one problem among many other kinds of psychological difficulties that afflict humans, and need be neither more nor less burdensome than other varieties of problems. Furthermore, one may suggest that although a woman is especially concerned about object loss she can still learn to cope with it through compensatory defenses, which would make it possible for her to function just as well as persons without such concern in most contexts (with the exception of situations involving buildup of sexual excitement).
One of the questions that was explored throughout the writer’s studies concerns the relationship of sexual appetite to other forms of appetite.
oes the woman who has high orgasm consistency or who has a high intercourse rate show special gusto with reference to other gratifications?
Many other forms of “appetite” have been appraised. Measures were taken of satisfaction derived from eating and the range of foods enjoyed. Information was also obtained about consumption of alcohol and cigarette smoking, and determinations were made of the amount of enjoyment of athletics and of the use of the large muscles of the body.
Systematic inquiry was undertaken about how much new experience and novelty (and the accompanying excitement) were sought. after, and measures were made of amount of time spent per week in seeking entertainment (for example, watching television), amount of effort devoted to narcissistically oriented self-grooming activities, and preferences for visual versus kinesthetic experiences. An analysis of the data emanating from these diverse measures has failed to establish more than a few isolated links between sexual appetite and other forms of appetite.
It was found that the greater a woman’s intercourse frequency the more she devotes herself to grooming and beautifying her body as well as the more time she spends during an average week in entertaining activities (for example, watching television and going to parties). There was also a borderline trend for preferred intercourse rate to be greater in those women who began to drink alcoholic beverages at a relatively early age, but this trend was not correlated with amount of alcohol consumed.
Finally, one should mention a borderline trend for strength of orgasm to be positively correlated with number of cigarettes smoked. Overall, though, there does not seem to be any indication that the woman who particularly enjoys or responds to sexual stimulation has correspondingly enhanced appetites in other realms.
The “sexy” woman is not likely to enjoy food more than the less “sexy” one, and is also not more likely to enjoy alcohol or smoking or athletic activities. Sexual appetite cannot be easily conceptualized as a manifestation of a more generalized zest for gratification. It is important to add that the data have not even hinted of a compensatory relationship between the area of sexual gratification and other modes of gratification.
That is, there is no sign that the woman who has difficulty in reaching orgasm or who feels unsatisfied after orgasm is inclined, by way of compensation, to be unusually interested in food. Nor is she unusually invested in alcohol or smoking. If an inability to attain sexual satisfaction does result in compensatory forms of behavior, they lie outside of the wide repertory that was studied.
It is pertinent to this same point that one cannot even say (in terms of the data collected) that lack of satisfaction from sexual interaction raises amount of tension, as far as it is detectable in the form of anxiety or hostile irritability or achievement fantasies or even general body awareness. Such findings, if affirmed by further studies, would seem to have considerable relevance for theories that view sexual tension in the context of a hydraulic system-such that if the tension does not find outlet in one sector it will increase the pressure in another.
The writer’s findings would suggest, on the contrary, that within the range of sexual gratification characterizing the married women who were studied, there was adaptation to the level of available satisfaction. There were no indications that women with very low orgasm rates were more tense or irritable or more invested in other appetites such as eating than women with high orgasm rates.
This is a fairly radical conclusion, but one that is congruent with the facts. It must be cautioned that one cannot validly apply such a perspective to women who almost totally lack opportunity for heterosexual intimacy. Perhaps there are certain minimum quantities of sexual contact that are necessary to prevent the buildup of disturbing tension. Although there would probably be individual differences in this area, one wonders whether the average woman might not quite successfully adapt to rates of sexual interaction that are considerably below current averages for married women.
With respect to the matter of the effects associated with different quantities of sexual contact, we do not know such simple things as whether there are changes in tension levels of women as they shift from the state of limited sexual contact usually typifying the unmarried role to the state of considerable sexual contact accompanying marriage. We do not know whether the shift results in an increase or a decrease in other areas of appetite.
We do not know in what ways a woman feels differently after intercourse producing orgasm versus intercourse that does not eventuate in orgasm. If there are such different feelings, are they transitory or do they last for long periods? In a related vein, we do not know whether a woman who usually fails to attain orgasm learns to focus in a compensatory fashion upon other aspects of the sexual experience.
Perhaps she begins to “tune in” more to the sheer intimacy of each sexual contact or the skin sensations it creates or to the “feel” of being penetrated. Conceivably, she might even begin to develop a special “taste” for the quality of heightened tension that is never directly or grossly relieved. She might learn to enjoy her own more gradual strategies (both during and after intercourse) for dissipating her sexual arousal.
The question of how much sexual contact a woman “needs” leads logically to the matter of intercourse frequency. As reported earlier, the writer and other investigators have found enormous differences in women’s intercourse rates. Although there is little doubt that the husband’s preferences are important determiners of such differences in rates, the writer’s studies suggest that another significant factor is a woman’s interest in narcissistic gratification.
Evidence was found that the greater a woman’s intercourse rate the more energy she invests in body-enhancing procedures (for example, buying new clothes, grooming, and applying cosmetics) and the more she seeks out activities that will “entertain” her. In addition, the women with higher intercourse rates were discovered to be inclined toward exhibitionism.