Thursday, 11 February 2010

Q+A with Joy Davidson, part 5

Since the last one was over with quite quickly;

All the disclaimers from before apply, the article is found in its entirety here, and I don’t own any copyrights, etc, and am quoting from it for the purpose of analysis.

Molly in Naperville Writes:
I have been married for two years, and I have never had an orgasm. I had two sexual partners before I was married and never had an orgasm then. I am in my mid-20s and starting to think there is something wrong with me. My husband and I have a healthy sex life, but the fact I have never had an orgasm comes up every so often. I am sort of OK with the fact that it hasn't happened, but in the back of my mind I know it bothers my husband a lot. I feel guilty. I don't blame either of us. ... I just want it to happen once or occasionally. I could really use some advice on this topic. Please help.

Anorgasmia is one of those difficult issues that I think could have a complex and subtle relationship with asexuality. It’s definitely something that could be discussed more in an asexual context, but I don’t feel particularly qualified to do that, I’m not sure if anyone is. I was considering writing something soonish on male anorgasmia, and, now I’m starting to assemble my thoughts about it, I see it’s not a particularly useful or useable definition, because it groups people by the symptom rather than the cause (more on that if I ever write it). We have no idea why this woman doesn’t orgasm. Indeed, one of the problems with anorgasmia is that we have no idea why anyone doesn’t orgasm. The very loudest voice saying they’re fully confident and accepting of the fact their body doesn’t do that may just not have had the right experiences, while a woman like this, who you think probably has issues with ‘performance’ anxiety or conditions that don’t arouse her, may actually physically have far less response to genital stimulation than others, or have some sort of non-harmful mental block, the same sort of preference that says ‘I’m aroused by this gender, not the other’, but saying ‘I don’t need orgasms’. And then there’s the complicated issues of why it matters. There are people whose quality of life would be seriously depleted without orgasms, people who don’t like them at all, and have a more stone sexuality, there are probably people who get a lot of pleasure from sex without orgasm, and are somewhat sceptical of the ‘counting game’ everyone else seems to play. And then there’s whether your partner has any right to expect you to have an orgasm. Is it just misplaced pride? Do they have trouble understanding that you’re fine without it (if you are)? Do they judge themselves by the aforementioned counting game, rather than genuine intimacy? Or is it that a large part of their sexual pleasure genuinely comes from getting the other person off, and they’re struggling to do without that?

Backing away from my random and not particularly helpful stream of consciousness for a moment, let’s assume this woman has the potential to be orgasmic and has one of several problems stopping her from achieving it. It’s sure as hell not going to happen while she’s waiting anxiously for it.

Let’s see what Joy says:

Davidson Responds:
You don't say how you're trying to have an orgasm, so I'll presume that you're going for the Big O during intercourse, which is the least likely way to achieve a climax. Rest assured, there is nothing wrong with you; only about a third of women have orgasms during intercourse. The vast majority of women have them through separate oral or manual stimulation of the clitoris. Even women who do climax during intercourse often require simultaneous clitoral stimulation. However, if you're an "orgasm virgin" the cooperative choreography required to master that can be tricky.
Learning to orgasm is much easier as a do-it-yourself project. Once you become adept at self-pleasuring, you can share your newfound successes with your partner. For step-by-step help, pick up a copy of Lonnie Barbach's classic book, "For Yourself, or Julia Heiman's "Becoming Orgasmic" or my book, "Fearless Sex."

In the short format, Joy’s chosen what her experience tells her is the most likely option- a poor type of stimulation and/or some anxiety issues, which can both be solved through old-fashioned D-I-Y. That’s probably a good call. I found it quite bizarre (but I tend to get my opinions from sex- and especially masturbation- positive people) that the writer doesn’t mention masturbation in the first paragraph. It seems so obvious to me that it’s the best way to find out if and how you can orgasm.
In a desperate bid to include something asexuality-related in my penultimate article in this series (just in case there are still asexuals around, or who might find it in the future), I may as well mention that asexuality is an introspective definition. All the categories of sexual attraction, sex drive, romantic attraction, and so on, are settled by looking at fantasies, desires and masturbation habits, rather than by partnered sex. This is something asexuals can bring to sex-positivism; the increased ability to be introspective, and to know your own sexuality regardless of how it relates to those around you, which I think can be an incredibly strong trait.

1 comment:

  1. It probably comes as a surprise to learn that there is a rather large percentage of women who don't masturbate or who think they shouldn't masturbate in a relationship. The prevailing thought goes something like, "now I've got a partner and he/she should make me cum." And if it's a he, then of course he should make her cum the same way he makes himself cum--ie., penis/vagina penetration-- and if not, he or both of them feel that something is missing. This is one of the most persistent intimacy sabotaging beliefs among couples-based on bad porn with a lot of simultaneous orgasms, and on just plain bad sex education and information. I should add that women who fake climaxes during intercourse don't help the cause, either, because they are in a sense perpetuating a myth.

    Since I wrote the letter highlighted in your post, I've seen some new research showing that a far smaller percentage of women orgasm through intercourse alone than we ever thought--something like 1 in 5. (Even the famously hyped G-spot orgasms are more often achieved with hands or toys than penises.)

    I hope this is worth knowing for all those who think they "should" be orgasming during intercourse, or have friends who talk about this idea. Actually, if a woman really wants to orgasm during intercourse, the best bet is to use a little tiny clit vibe while doing it-- that will increase her odds dramatically.

    Ok... enough about that!

    I love your last statement about introspection. You are so right that this applies to everyone and really ought to be the gold standard. Most folks in my profession do try to stay focused in that direction, and I agree that it's a message that asexuals can certainly bring to sex-positivism, as it bridges any other divide between asexuals and sexuals. Ultimately everyone is trying to achieve the same sort of self-knowledge and sexual awareness, whatever that means in terms of specifics to each of us.