Kinsey explained that the erectile organs (penis and clitoris) develop from the same anatomy in the foetus called the genital tubercle. It is inconceivable that the organ responsible for male orgasm would not be the same organ that is responsible for female orgasm. Some sexologists suggest that intercourse, which stimulates the vagina, can have a secondary effect on the clitoris because the two organs are physically adjacent to each other or because certain parts of these two organs are adjacent or contiguous. Yet men don’t stimulate the testes, even though they are adjacent to the penis.
Kinsey noted that after adolescence, men need specific penile stimulation to achieve orgasm. Whether men engage in intercourse, masturbation or oral sex (fellatio), the penis is always involved. Equally, stimulation involves massaging the shaft of the penis that contains the corpora cavernosa. These structures trap blood and this causes an erection. Being erect is what makes the penis so erotically sensitive (in a pleasurable way).
Kinsey clearly identified the clitoris as the anatomy women stimulate when masturbating alone. Confusingly when people refer to the clitoris, they usually mean the clitoral glans, which is the only externally visible part of the clitoral organ. Consequently many people assume that women should orgasm from stimulation of the glans. But if we look at the parallel for men, they do not typically try to achieve orgasm by stimulating only the glans of the penis. Masturbation involves pulling the outer layer of skin up and down the shaft and over the top of the glans. This stimulation of the shaft that is supplied by the fingers or hand provide much more specific and effective stimulation than that provided by penetrative sex. The effectiveness of penetrative sex relies on the psychological turn-on for the penetrating male of thrusting his erect penis into another person’s body orifice.
When I compared the male experience with my own orgasm techniques, there were clear parallels. For a start, I have never had an orgasm without using erotic fantasy. These are based on highly explicit aspects of penetrative sex, either fellatio or anal intercourse. The concept of penetration as an erotic and intimate act (also of violation) is key to my ability to become mentally aroused. Unlike a man, this process is conscious and never occurs spontaneously. Without my brain’s response to eroticism, stimulation is ineffective. I always stimulate the clitoral area from start to finish when masturbating, using a rhythmic technique that is slower than a man’s. I press down into the spongey tissue either side of the labia. The internal clitoral organ is located in this area, near the entrance to the vagina.
In masturbation … the female usually moves a finger gently and rhythmically over the sensitive areas, or applies rhythmic or steady pressure with several of her fingers . (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from ‘Understanding Sexual Response’ (to be published 2023)