I was faking it…

one woman’s search for orgasm

Posts Tagged ‘jonathan margolis

Why orgasms matter and defining them doesn’t

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“Orgasm is one of society’s most compelling, shaping forces”–those are the first words that appear on the back cover of Jonathon Margolis’ book, O: The intimate history of the orgasm.

The crucial word that Margolis appears to have forgotten to include in this broad sweeping statement, is the word ‘male’. As in, ‘male orgasms’.

Whilst discussions and theories on the history of the penis and its built in ability to orgasm are generally framed in terms of how and to what extent this particular aspect of human anatomy has influenced the development of civilization since the dawn of man, the equivalent body of research exploring female orgasms centres instead on defining the nature of woman. Specifically, what is woman and how does her orgasm determine that definition?

the virgin whore dicotomy, yours for only $9.99

the virgin whore dicotomy, yours for only $9.99

Is she genetically programmed to be promiscuous–searching as many mates as possible to satisfy the demands of a sexual design that makes her capable of outlasting her male counterpart several times over? Or, is her inability to orgasm quickly and easily a reflection of her true sexual motivation: that being security and love?

As someone on her own quest for orgasm, I realize in doing so, not only am I poised to explore a new world of sexual sensations, but also am, in this way, exploring the kind of woman that I am. Whore/virgin? Mother/witch? Feminist/slut?

Not having had an orgasm is, I think, a testament to my capacity as a nurturing human being.

As a sexually active adult female whose sex life in the past five-ten years has been confined to monogamous relationships, I am generally acutely aware of my partners’ progress during the process of love making: is he satisfied? Is he aroused? Is he going to orgasm? And I’m not alone.

In his book, Margolis refers to a study which asked women how important the attainment of orgasm during sex was to them. Only 10% of respondents said that it was “extremely important” (source, 106).  The same study also asked how important women felt their partner’s attainment of orgasm during sex was to them–41% said extremely important (source, 106).

To this women, having or not having an orgasm is irrelevant because what makes me happy is my ability to make someone I love is happy.

That is where I’m coming from—and the part of me carrying me forward now is the part that has decided it wants to experience an orgasm, the part of me that is curious about what this internal power source, which desires self-mastery and control in a way that I have never before dared. Chasing after the infamously elusive orgasm is, for the firs time in my life, allowing me to get to know what in past eras, this would have been called my ‘inner witch’ –or today’s parlance, my ‘inner feminist’.

Thus, defining my relationship to orgasm, is also about my defining my relationship to myself and the kind of woman I am or want to be.

Sexologists, historians, and researchers probably won’t ever give up trying to define the whys of the female orgasm. Nonetheless, my point is that the complex and ambiguous nature of the female orgasm isn’t something we need or even could ever pin down, just as the nature of woman, isn’t something we need or even could pin down.

And that, my dears, is the beauty of it.

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Sex and the City and why I can’t orgasm

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Sex and the City is stealing my orgasms, and the orgasms of thousands of other members of their viewing audience.

The problem is that the women on that show are just too damn beautiful.

sex-and-the-city-movieIn The intimate history of the orgasm, Jonathan Margolis describes a 1999 poll which sampled 15, 000 sexually active adults in the US, Canada and the UK and found that “46 % per cent of anorgasmic women blamed the problem on lack of confidence in their appearance” (source, p.64).

That is to say, instead of letting ourselves be consumed by the act of love-making, we keep getting distracted by the image of Carrie Bradshaw’s sharp shoulder blades and the uncomfortable questions that they dig into our psyches: Am I too fat? Am I pretty? What does he think of how I look (especially now that I don’t have any clothes to downplay my thighs)? 

But that isn’t the only way that Sex and the City is apparently undermining the orgasmic potential of women like me.  Not only is the show’s cast of female actors totally thin and attractive but they also generally have really amazing looking sex. Particularly in the case of Samantha.

How are regular women like me supposed to be able to measure up to a woman whose sex drive,  at the age of forty, is able to consume handsome young men half her age?

In another, much smaller study quoted by Margolis, women engaged in sexual self stimulation (masturbation) were monitored in labs and then asked to report on their experience. The intriguing aspect of the experiment was that many subjects which exhibited all the physiological sensations of orgasms, climaxed they hadn’t orgasmed at all, decided instead that “what they had did not seem to feel like what it was supposed to be like it… [thus] women perfectly capable of orgasm refuse to believe that they are having a legitimate one and must instead be experiencing an inferior brand” (source, p.66).

That pleasing sensation around my pelvic region was nice, but since I didn’t scream and howl like Samantha’s did in episode four, season six, than it must not have been the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Sex and the City. But perhaps, if we women are really serious about getting in touch with our own orgasmic capacity, we should start by trying not to compare ourselves to Carrie and Samantha and the rest of them. I, for one, vow not to watch any more episodes…at least till I’ve come.

Ode to the Clitoris

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Oh, the intelligent and powerful clitoris. The more I learn of her, the more I am in awe of her goddess-like presence.

Her strength is unparalleled: with some 8000 nerve fibers (more than exist anywhere else on the body, and about twice the number as found in the penis).

Freya, Goddess of sex, battle, and pleasure

Freya, Goddess of sex, battle, and pleasure

Her desire for pleasure unapologetic. How else could one explain her design, whose function is “purely for pleasure, with no known anatomical role” (source, p.10).

Her power undiminishing. Unlike the vagina, she is unaffected menopause and remains strong into old age (source, p.60).

Most important of all, she offers guidance and wisdom, silently encouraging women to take control of their own sexuality—and perhaps by extension their lives. Without words, hers in the language of blood engorgement and nerve endings: the “clitoris operates at peak performance when a women feels athunder with life, when she is bellowing on top, figuratively if not literally” (source, p.70).

Indeed, I am thankful for the tiny goddess living between my legs, who, growing warm and moist as I read and learn about her, urges me to continue this journey in sexual exploration..

Penis envy?

As if.