Ways Women Orgasm

Women’s sexual arousal

Published in 1972, ‘Joy of Sex’ by Alex Comfort MD was revolu­tionary at the time because it suggested a new open­ness and a sense of fun in modern sexual rela­tion­ships. Liberal-minded couples welcomed the idea that it could now be considered normal and ‘unin­hib­ited’ to enjoy sex as a natural part of an adult relationship.

Draw­ings, as opposed to photo­graphs, portrayed the phys­ical intimacy between two lovers sens­it­ively. This tasteful present­a­tion of a couple’s sex life avoided any poten­tial concerns that the book might be porno­graphic in nature, making it attractive to women in particular.

In fact, Alex Comfort never ran a sex therapy prac­tice and so he was not presenting a heavily researched view of sex. He was offering sugges­tions, based on his own sex life (with his much younger mistress — not his wife), for how other couples might bring some variety to sex. ‘Joy of Sex’ docu­ments a man’s appre­ci­ation of erot­i­cism and the activ­ities that he found pleasurable.

The book is not explicit about the woman’s arousal and my mistake was to assume that the rela­tion­ship illus­trated was based on equality between the sexes. I assumed — wrongly as it happens — that other women would also be looking for a sexual (rather than an emotional) payback from their sexual rela­tion­ships involving similar levels of sexual pleasure that men enjoy.

A woman can have sex for years without ever exper­i­en­cing sexual arousal or orgasm. This explains why the average age to come out is 17 years old for gay men but 40 years old for gay women. Of course, a woman’s sexual fantasies might cause her to suspect she is lesbian earlier than this. But a lesbian woman can marry and have chil­dren just as a hetero­sexual woman does because female orgasm is not required for her either to parti­cipate in a sexual rela­tion­ship or for reproduction.

Sexual rela­tion­ships are not based on equal sexual pleasure

In general sex manuals can be misleading because they tend to describe the phys­ical activ­ities of inter­course, or masturb­a­tion for that matter, without simul­tan­eously discussing what is happening in the person’s head. The implic­a­tion is that the phys­ical sensa­tions of sex fully occupy the woman’s mind throughout and create by them­selves the level of sexual arousal required to exper­i­ence orgasm. In other words, the assump­tion is that women respond sexu­ally just as men do.

The fact that women are much slower to arouse may be acknow­ledged but it is rarely explained why this should be or what the consequences might be for a sexual rela­tion­ship. Any diffi­culties with female orgasm are often dismissed as insignificant.

“Frigidity — This does not mean failure to enjoy sex when one is dead with fatigue… Nor does it mean failure to get a mind-blowing orgasm on every single occa­sion. If it does mean these things, every woman is frigid. …” (p198 Joy of Sex 1972)

Perhaps all that is missing from ‘Joy of Sex’ is simply an acknow­ledge­ment of how much more diffi­cult it is for a woman to apply her sexual fantasies to sex with a partner. Iron­ic­ally, although it may suit men to have the visual bene­fits of covers off and lights on, women may be the opposite. I close my eyes during masturb­a­tion to focus on fantasy and during sex I also prefer subdued lighting to blot out the everyday world so that I can fully absorb myself in enjoying my phys­ical arousal.

Even today the average person does not asso­ciate women’s sexu­ality with the capa­city to enjoy sexual arousal and orgasm. When I asked a young female doctor for inform­a­tion about female sexu­ality, she was embar­rassed. The sexu­ally responsive woman is more often asso­ci­ated with women in erotic fiction and porno­graphy, providing men with a sexual turn-on, than with women’s real life experiences.

An older male doctor referred me to a family plan­ning library in London that provided inform­a­tion about contra­cep­tion and child­birth. Sexual pleasure is asso­ci­ated with the sex industry where women are either being exploited or are exploiting men for money. Since the sex industry is fuelled by men’s interest, not women’s, it is diffi­cult to find un-biased sources of inform­a­tion about female sexuality.

Excerpt from Jane’s book Ways Women Orgasm (2011)

2 comments for “Women’s sexual arousal

  1. Veronica Philbert-Roberts
    January 5, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    The women of the View were discussing why there seem to be a rise in lesbians coming out in their 40’s after they had lived with men and raised families. Your opin­ions on why this is, has piqued my interest. No one has ever given this reason before…of women not really fully under­standing or enjoying their sexu­ality until later in life. Very enlight­ening perspective.…great story.

  2. Jane
    January 5, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks for your support.

    My conclu­sion, sadly, is that women enjoy their sexu­ality (in terms of their ability to orgasm rather than their ability to arouse men) through sexual fantasies.

    The nature of women’s sexual fantasies (relat­ively complex psycho­lo­gical scen­arios — men’s fantasies are much more basic) makes them unsuit­able for use with a partner.

    Hence sexual rela­tion­ships tend to focus on male sexual arousal and orgasm since men are able to become aroused enough for orgasm simply through an appre­ci­ation of the sexual attrib­utes of a sexual partner.

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