Humans have sex in order to reproduce, to enjoy sensual or erotic pleasure and to form the emotional bonds that support family life over decades.
- Reproduction is the prime purpose of sex. So sex is presented in terms of intercourse, in which female orgasm plays no role, but which defines the biology whereby a man impregnates a woman.
- Sexual pleasure is often implied but left to the individual to discover. So even today sex education provides the reproductive facts but no explicit explanation for how orgasm is achieved by anyone.
- Emotional bonding is vital to reproduction post conception. Our sexuality has evolved from a purely reproductive activity into an on-going process that forges the bonds of long-term relationships.
We often assume that sex and orgasm are synonymous. Yet there is no research 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, [i] it was hardly surprising that only women’s claims of orgasm with a lover caught the public’s attention. Kinsey’s key findings were rejected: that female orgasm is associated with clitoral stimulation alone, that orgasm claims do not increase women’s enthusiasm for intercourse and that men are much more responsive than women ever 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 erroneous assumptions that persist to the current day. But also researchers rarely take into account the pressure men put on women to describe their sexual experiences in terms of orgasm. Misunderstandings arise because women are assumed to experience sex drive, erotic arousal and orgasm exactly as men do. In reality, women experience none of these sexual phenomena in the same way that men do.
Researchers fail to highlight the biological significance of orgasm. Sexual response is clearly a vital aspect of male reproductive function, since orgasm is the trigger for the ejaculation of spermatozoa. But female orgasm has no role in reproduction and, therefore, nothing to do with intercourse. Moreover, even after the clitoris has been identified as the female sex organ, no one rationalises the anatomy involved in women’s orgasm claims with a lover. Neither do they question the lack of female erotic turn-ons.
[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. (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from Women’s Sexual Behaviours & Responses (ISBN 978-0956-894717)