When I discovered orgasm, I did not act on information that I had been given. I did not approach masturbation by copying something I had seen (in movies), something I had read in erotic fiction or been told about. I did not discover orgasm because I went out and bought a vibrating gadget. It occurred because of stimulation I applied instinctively as a result of my mind responding to eroticism. It simply happened. It was totally unexpected. I was not thinking about trying to have an orgasm. I was exploring fantasies in my mind and moving my hips instinctively. It felt reassuring to be lying face down. It was comforting to have my hands over my vulva.
I have always been sure about orgasm. There was no doubting that I experienced arousal and orgasm because I could achieve them both reliably each time. It was a predictable and repeatable experience. All I needed was the initial trigger of a vague response in my genitals on contemplating self-stimulation. Every time (without exception) I had to stimulate my clitoral organ in a highly specific way. Every time I had to achieve an intense (in a way that blocked out all other mental activity) focus on a highly explicit and surreal (activity that I could not achieve in real life) fantasy scenario.
But I never linked this experience to intercourse. They were two quite separate experiences even when I had a lover. The reason for them being separate was that masturbation was such a limited activity. It had nothing to do with the social environment of sexual pleasuring with a lover. Because I engaged in the activity instinctively, I had no idea why masturbation had such specific characteristics. I always had to masturbate in the same way.
Men are proactive lovers because of their arousal. Men enjoy exploring women’s bodies because it is arousing for them. Foreplay existed well before any knowledge of the clitoris. A woman allows a man to stimulate her to the boundaries of her sense of propriety. I was just as passive with a lover as any other woman. The only activities I could consciously decide to engage on involved pleasuring my partner. I had no idea what I could do become erotically aroused with a lover. My masturbation technique of using surreal fantasies alone were not suitable when I was with a lover.
I had no idea why masturbation was such a limited experience. But I spent decades reading the research and thinking about my own experience. I spent time writing down exactly what I was doing to achieve orgasm. I considered the orgasm claims of others women. I searched the internet for information about anatomy and other aspects of sexuality that I am unfamiliar with (such as gay sex). I slowly formulated some possible theories.
The muscular movements which occur during sex response are usually involuntary. (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from ‘Understanding Sexual Response’ (to be published 2023)