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The sexual anatomy involved in female orgasm

Because she targeted female masturbation specifically, Shere Hite’s sample included even more women (82%) who masturbated (compared with Kinsey’s sample). Yet even though such women must be familiar with clitoral stimulation techniques when masturbating, around half of them[i] said the same techniques did not help them orgasm with a lover.

Once again such an even split is hardly conclusive and simply indicates the confusion that arises from women’s responses being so obscure.

Misconception #6: Because of the male experience, it is incorrectly assumed that women can masturbate to orgasm with a lover as easily as men do. But if this were so, no one would ever ask about female orgasm. The clitoris does not respond because women are not easily aroused.

The clitoris was unheard of until Kinsey highlighted its role in female masturbation and lesbian sex. He interviewed thousands of heterosexuals but picked up no hint of couples using clitoral stimulation techniques. Yet 20 years later women (responding to Hite) used the clitoris to explain their orgasms with a male lover. Shere Hite’s questionnaires inferred a link just by asking about masturbation, clitoral stimulation and orgasm.

Researchers mistakenly assume that every woman knows whether she has an orgasm or not. Unless she masturbates (to orgasm) a woman does not realise the limited circumstances in which female orgasm occurs. A woman can account for her orgasms as she pleases. It’s a free world. But if a significant number of women stimulate themselves with a male lover then it seems strange that so few men are aware of the role of the clitoris.

There is a link between female orgasm and clitoral stimulation. But the association comes not from women’s experience of sex with a man but from their experience of masturbation alone. Pornography is misleading because it shows women providing a masturbatory display for male gratification. Women’s orgasmic ability is simply not this flexible or sociable.

Men gain a significant pleasure from their penis, which once erect becomes highly sensitised so that stimulation is intensely pleasurable. Stimulation of the clitoris is not sensationally pleasurable. Clitoral stimulation represents a means to an end (female orgasm) when combined with an intense focus on fantasy. Regardless of who provides the stimulation during sex women’s lack of mental arousal does not facilitate orgasm. So a woman has no incentive to stimulate herself with a lover.

[i]whereas 44 percent of the women orgasmed regularly with clitoral stimulation by hand, 42 percent orgasmed regularly during oral stimulation. (p359 Hite 1976)

Excerpt from Jane’s book Women’s Sexual Behaviours & Responses (2013)

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