Humans have sex in order to reproduce, to enjoy the intimacy of sexual pleasure and to form the emotional bonds that support family life.
Reproduction is the prime purpose of sex. So sex is usually presented in terms of intercourse, in which female orgasm plays no role, but which as a mating act defines the biology whereby a man impregnates a woman.
Sexual pleasure is often implied but left largely to the individual to discover. So even today sex education provides the reproductive ‘facts of life’ but little explicit explanation for how orgasm is achieved by anyone.
Emotional bonding is vital to reproduction post conception. Human sexuality has evolved from a purely reproductive activity into an on-going process that forges the bonds that underpin long-term relationships.
It is often assumed that sex and orgasm are synonymous. Yet no research exists to support this view. Of the women willing to discuss their sexual experiences few provide the fantasy accounts of orgasm everyone hopes for. Many women are disappointingly unresponsive. So when Alfred Kinsey published his findings in 1953, it was hardly surprising that only the rare cases of easily orgasmic women caught the public’s attention.
Kinsey’s key findings were rejected: that orgasm through masturbation is more common than we tend to assume, orgasm with a lover less common and that men are much more sexually responsive than women are.
Findings can be misleading because researchers accept accounts of women’s sexual responses at face value and misinterpret women’s sexual behaviours. In part this is due to misconceptions that persist to the current day but also they never take into account the inordinate pressure men put on women to describe their sexual experiences as ‘orgasmic’.
Researchers fail to highlight the biological significance of orgasm. While male performance is 100% vital to men’s reproductive capability, female orgasm has zero impact on women’s. Moreover, even when the clitoris has been identified as the female sex organ,[i] no one rationalises the anatomy involved in women’s orgasms with a male lover. Neither do they question the lack of erotic turn-ons in women’s accounts of orgasm.
Misunderstandings also arise because it is assumed that women experience sex drive, sexual arousal and orgasm just as men do. In reality women experience none of these sexual phenomena exactly as men do.
[i] The techniques of masturbation usually offer the female the most specific and quickest means for achieving orgasm. For this reason masturbation has provided the most clearly interpretable data which we have on the anatomy and the physiology of the female’s sexual responses and orgasm. (p132 Kinsey 1953)
Excerpt from Jane’s book Women’s Sexual Behaviours & Responses (2013)