When I started researching my sexuality, I knew how to masturbate to orgasm so I wanted to know how women achieved the orgasms with a lover that I had never found possible. I was fortunate because my partner was a practical person and eager to explore my body and responses. It’s just none of this exploration had ever unearthed any sensation that compared with masturbation where I used fantasy. I assumed other couples (regardless of whether the woman masturbates or not) would have had similar experiences and would be willing to share techniques for pleasuring a woman.
In fact, the silence has been universal. And it is not just women who are silent about their sexuality. Very few men ever comment in depth on explicit sexual issues and none have been able to comment with the collaboration of their female partner. Men seem to assume that a woman’s sexuality involves her responding pleasurably to stimulation that men initiate.
I have struggled to understand the cover-up by women. I accept that some women have political motives but it didn’t make sense that so many women would lie about sexual response. I have concluded that responsiveness is a unique experience unlike any other. So if you never have an orgasm, you can’t possibly know what it feels like. For anyone who experiences orgasm, it is difficult to appreciate the extreme pressure women must be under to provide evidence of a responsiveness their lovers and the society around them assumes they should have. [i] Some women know that orgasm does not occur but others seem to imagine that it does somehow.
I have concluded that there is no reason why women should ever be responsive. Their minds and bodies are not intended to respond erotically. Sociable activity focuses on male orgasm, the reproductive priority. Male orgasm is essential to reproduction because it triggers the ejaculation of semen (containing spermatozoa). Intercourse is an act of impregnation that is necessary for a new life to be created. For this to happen, a woman must be amenable to allowing a man to thrust into her vagina until he ejaculates.
Men wouldn’t like it if women refused to have sex because they were not aroused (as men do). Nor would men like it if women only engaged in intercourse to obtain their own orgasm. If intercourse truly stimulated a woman to orgasm, she might want intercourse to end before a man ejaculated. This is counter to the goal of reproduction. So reproduction relies on women’s lack of responsiveness as much as male responsiveness. Given that the function of intercourse is to facilitate male orgasm, the misconception that intercourse causes female orgasm puts unfair pressure on men.
[i] The fact that I cannot come during intercourse must mean that I do not like it, or have a shame or fear of it, even though I think I like it. I realize this but since I don’t know why I am this way, I do not know how to go about overcoming it. (Shere Hite)
Excerpt from ‘Understanding Sexual Response’ (to be published 2021)