Head, Heart and Balls
How to pleasure a woman in bed
One of the things that's most interesting about modern society is how the cultural expectations from men around women's sexual pleasure have changed over the centuries.
You could argue that years ago there was no expectation on men at all around women's sexual pleasure since this was something that didn't feature in the human calendar!
But nowadays of course there is an expectation that women are entitled to an orgasm during sexual acts and somehow the obligation appears to be on men to provide that, at least in Western civilization.
Now this is really interesting, because men in the medical profession medicalized female orgasms by taking the concept of "hysteria" in the 19th and early 20th century, and giving women therapeutic treatment with electric vibrators in surgeries – of course, the relief of hysteria was nothing more than the relief of an orgasm, yet this was medically acceptable and, therefore, socially acceptable.
After this interesting development, the medical profession, or more likely the pharmaceutical industry, has medicalized the absence of orgasm as a disorder called female hypoactive sexual desire disorder – it's hard to see this as anything other than a means of producing profit by selling drugs to "cure" this, shall we say, "imaginary" female malady.
Could it be therefore that the idea which seems so widespread in our society - that men need to "give" a woman an orgasm during sexual activity - is simply another aspect of the way in which men have taken ownership of the female orgasm? And to answer that question I suppose we need to turn to the feminists.
Feminist thinking round female orgasm appears to centre on the historical debate of the clitoral orgasm versus the vaginal orgasm, a distinction originally made by Freud, and now finding some reflection in the reality of G spot stimulation as the cause of vaginally induced orgasm, and the matter of the so-called orgasm gap or orgasm discrepancy between men and women.
The male ownership of female orgasm doesn't appear to be high on the agenda, at least not if you're searching Google for topics like feminism and the female orgasm.
So let's look at those two issues above.
Of course Freud was in some way disparaging women by suggesting that a clitoral orgasm was "immature" and a clitoral orgasm was "mature", but later work has demonstrated an element of truth in what he was saying.
Tantric therapists would probably all agree that there is something about the stimulation of the G spot which requires a woman to open up her sexual centers and heal repressed sexual trauma before the sensitivity of that area allows her to reach orgasm through stimulation of her G spot.
The response of many people to this is that orgasms are purely clitoral, and stimulation of the G spot is no more than stimulation of the clitoral structures which surround the barrel of the vagina.
That is a debate that is likely to rage for some time yet, with no clear answer.
All we can say is that there are many reports of women healing sexual trauma and experiencing a different type of orgasm, which appears to be due to stimulation of a different set of nerves – the pudendal nerve rather than the pelvic nerve or clitoral nerve.
As far as the orgasm gap is concerned this is a reference to the difference between the frequency of orgasm in men and women, which is very marked indeed at the start of a relationship or during casual sex. Women rarely experience an orgasm during casual hookups or dating, and it's only after the fifth date or sexual interaction in a couple that the orgasm gap seems to begin to narrow.
There's an article here which tells us that most women don't get off during casual sex, and the author makes the observation that the usual interpretation of this is that it's a feminist matter of equal rights.
In other words, the women are entitled to an orgasm during casual sex just as men are. And of course on the face of it that's a perfectly reasonable proposition.
However women do seem to prefer sex within the context of a committed relationship.
That's not to deny the possibility that women experience pleasure from casual sex, and some experience orgasm, but it does present the feminists with an interesting problem: are they representing, in claiming equality of orgasm frequency for women, the real preferences of women for whom they claim to speak?
In other words, are there biological sex differences that actually render a feminist position null and void?
It's probably true to say that a lot of men do not care whether a woman reaches orgasm or whether they know how to please a woman sexually when they're having casual sex or meeting on a hookup or date.
Indeed, in a committed relationship the probability of a woman experiencing orgasm goes up by 100 percent. (And this includes friends with benefits, sex with exes, dating, hookups and so on – the evidence is clear that women reach orgasm much more easily in a stable relationship.)
The reasons for this appear to be that the guy has no incentive to explore what makes his woman come – he simply orgasms, and then he isn't interested in satisfying her.
The other possibility here is that women aren't actually biologically wired to reach climax without emotional intimacy.
So what's the purpose of casual sex for women?
Some women claim that it has a level of pleasure within it that is independent of orgasm, and of course sex may have some emotional benefits for some women – it's an example of female power being expressed.
But if it's not about orgasm pleasure, how can it be about sexual pleasure?
(Mind you, the other question, and a slightly deeper issue at that, is why women are engaging in casual sex without orgasm anyway, and secondly whether or not we have any right to make judgments or place expectations on them when they do so.)
Of course it is entirely possible that we're looking at this the wrong way round, and that women gain satisfaction and pleasure from casual sex simply because it's an expression of social and sexual freedom.
This is clearly not a simple issue, but we can say certain things with clarity and certainty; in particular that a casual hook up doesn't lead to much emotional intimacy, at least as general rule, and doesn't necessarily carry expectations of any further connection or contact.
What might be a feminist position here is the fact that if women are having casual sex without orgasm (and the orgasm gap is clear evidence that that's the case), then women seem to be objectifying themselves for the pleasure of men as an expression of sexual freedom and empowerment.
This is a very long way from gaining pleasure from sex, and it's a very long way from what most men would like to have in a sexual relationship with a woman, I suspect.
Since all the search seems to focus on the women in casual relationships, it's difficult to draw any conclusions about what exactly the men are after. Is it purely sexual release, or is it something more fundamental, like an expression of sexual prowess - a kind of "notch on the bedpost" thing?
And furthermore, how many men are interested in having casual sex? Among my friends and colleagues, I can't really think of all that many who pursue casual sex when they are not in a relationship. They all seem to be much more interested in getting into a relationship and enjoying mutually rewarding sex.
From a psychological and emotional position, this is really rather interesting – could it be that there is another factor at work here, which is the drive that men have to learn how to pleasure a woman in bed, that they do not instinctively know how to give a woman an orgasm? You see, sharing sexual pleasure does require a sensitivity to your partner's needs and desires, and it certainly requires learning and effort on the part of men to make the woman come.
As we've already discussed, the casual and commonplace expectation in stable emotionally intimate relationships that are sexual, between men and women, is that the man is going to give the woman an orgasm. So this is not by any means a simple issue, and it's certainly likely to promote debate for some time yet.
What I think is really clear to me is this: from the research I've done with clients over the past 16 or 18 years, the best sex is definitely that which is not only based on physical satisfaction in bed, but also based on emotional connection – you could call this love, although in my experience trust and respect are just as powerful agents for producing intimacy as love.
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