‘I’m Coming Too’: Forbidden History of the Female Orgasm

We don’t know much about female orgasm, but we are certain that it exists. So much so that in early December, the British model and actress Cara Delevingne donated one of hers to science, masturbating in a hospital room for 15 minutes to “get some answers”. The researchers involved in the study wanted to test her blood before and after the climax of sexual arousal, in an attempt to understand how the chemistry of the body changes – yes, it is not yet clear to us.

Over the centuries, all sorts of things have been said about female sexuality. As noted by Elena Micheli, Psychotherapist at the IPSICO Institute in Florence, historical periods have first defined her as «complicated, threatening, shameful», then «irrepressible, demonic». Finally she “matures if lived in certain ways or on the contrary childish, repressed, hierarchically inferior to the male one”. All in all «to be freed, to be claimed or to be respected» or to be exploited for conception, as believed by the man of the seventeenth century in the wake of the thought of the Greek physician Hippocrates, according to which a woman could become pregnant only by managing to have an orgasm ( and of course the partner had to have it too).

It is only with the arrival of Virginia Johnson that thought evolves, approaching the modern one. The American sexologist, born in 1925 and died in 2013, was the first woman – together with her husband and colleague William Masters – to approach sexology in a scientific way, creating the basis for that “sexual revolution” that would appear in the West around to the sixties.

For the couple it was the method adopted that made the difference, which allowed them, among other things, to surpass that of their predecessor, Alfred Kinsey, who between the 1930s and 1940s amazed his colleagues for having decided to study sexuality with questionnaires from compile, based on respondents’ impressions. Johnson and Masters, on the other hand, used laboratories and numerous technological tools to measure the physiological changes during orgasm: they reviewed about 10,000 – caused by both coitus and masturbation – among men and women aged between 18 and 89. . And as they “came,” a polygraph kept track of the change in some of their vital signs, including heart rate and brain activity.

In short, it took a lot to undermine popular beliefs so rooted in evolutionary history and to induce people to understand that pleasure, especially female pleasure, which is less evident than male pleasure, is the result of a combination of factors, including muscle contractions – from 5 at 8 every 0.8 seconds – and release of hormones.

To put it precisely by Ilaria Consolo, vice president of the Italian Institute of Scientific Sexology in Rome, «the orgasm consists of a reflex of the autonomic nervous system in response to generally physical stimulations, in particular the genitals, which can be facilitated or inhibited by ‘mental activity and therefore from thoughts, fantasies and feelings’ since 30 brain areas are involved in the experience of sexual pleasure.

Sure, knowing it doesn’t exhaust the complexity, but knowing the basics is already encouraging in itself. “Hardly anyone asks me what an orgasm is. It should be quite well known», confirmed me Asja Tilotta, an expert in sex education and social media communicator under the name of “Medmaki”. «What people ask me most often – almost always subjects with a vulva – is: ‘how do I know if I’ve had an orgasm?’. Usually they are young or very young people, but there is no shortage of adults ».

A study conducted by Indiana University, Chapman University and Claremont Graduate University on 52,000 Americans found that heterosexual women have fewer orgasms overall. Proportionally, they reported having one in 65% of relationships, versus 66% of bisexual women, 86% of lesbian women, 88% of bisexual men, 89% of gay men, and 95% of heterosexual men.

The motivations are different, but they all start from the assumption that there is no perfect orgasm manual: every woman has her own ways to achieve it and often she can only discover them by exploring her own body. “However, that is unlikely to happen if they are both culturally and socially discouraged from masturbating.” And for adult women instead, how do you explain it? “They have more experience, of course, they know each other better, but they often bring with them cultural legacies that make them embarrassed or, worse, make them feel wrong”. Numbers therefore that shouldn’t surprise us, given that Tilotta reiterates to me that «in general, knowledge of the apparatus responsible for female pleasure has not always been a priority. Suffice it to say that until a few decades ago the clitoris did not even appear in anatomy books, despite the fact that this is a science that has been studied in detail for centuries». When instead the greater knowledge of the pelvic floor muscles, for example, learning to recognize when they contract and when they relax, could help the achievement of orgasms.

On the other hand «the gender gap in study, history and culture exists, just as there are many preconceptions linked to the female sex. Science, for centuries, was made by men and it was men who decided what made sense to investigate and what to neglect». On their orgasm, among other things, things seemed quite clear right away: pleasure is linked to ejaculation, and this is fundamental in conception. Evolutionarily speaking, enjoyment drives men to “come” more often, while instead a woman doesn’t need an orgasm to get pregnant – if that were the case on Earth we’d probably be half as many. But can one therefore know what it is for or not? At the moment not yet, unless you are satisfied with assumptions.

As stated in an article published by Scientific American, one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific journals, there are several hypotheses on the origin of the female orgasm. To name a couple, there are those who have argued that it strengthens the bond with partners, thus increasing the chances of reproduction and those who have thought that muscle contractions can help sperm enter the reproductive tract – a hypothesis already denied by studies by Masters and Johnson, who realized that these are of the expulsive type. There must be a reason, but it is not one of the above. A group of scientists cited by The sciences wrote that “the existence of the female orgasm is intriguing for two reasons: on the one hand, it is unnecessary for female reproductive success and, on the other hand, this neuro-endocrine reflex is too complex to be an evolutionary accident”.

Their hypothesis is that it evolved from ovulation. In addition to this, there are many assumptions: we could probably go on indefinitely. An uncertainty that over the millennia has contributed to the “mythologizing” of the vagina by men, “for whom it assumes different meanings, based on their exclusive needs, from a cozy alcove to a hunting ground, up to being an unknown and dark place , therefore that both frightens and attracts».

Of course, arriving at a certain and valid conclusion for everyone would have its advantages. In fact, it is not a question of naked and raw curiosity (not only). Tilotta explained to me that «if there were more studies, progress would also be made in treating all those pathologies that are based on pelvic floor contractures and so-called invisible diseases, such as Endometriosis, Vulvodynia and Pudendal Neuropathy». So invisible that a lot of people, especially young people, don’t even know they have them or that they exist. “There is always a lot of controversy around the possibility of doing sex education at school. The teachers – both in middle and high school – tell me that it is the kids who ask them to do it».

What teenagers are asking for is not a quick little lesson on the anatomy of the genitals: instead they need information and guidance “on how to experience sex in its entirety and in its immense range of relational nuances, on how to get to know and understand each other”. Here the anatomical features count for very little. «If, as they say and read, the ultimate and noble goal of school is to prepare young people to face the world, and not just to fill their heads with notions, then sexual and emotional education is essential for forming adults healthy and ready», also because there is a certain urgency and the data show it. According to a study conducted by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in 2019 on a sample of 16,000 boys aged between 16 and 17, enrolled in 482 Italian schools, it emerged that 10% of those among them have a sexually active life does not use any contraceptive method. Not even coitus interruptus, to be clear, which is not a contraceptive and which, according to one out of ten adolescents interviewed, protects against disease.

The issue is that when it is not the school – or whoever – that informs and trains, the internet intervenes (with its pros and cons). And he also put a “patch” on the theme of pleasure. The “democratization” of the orgasm, as defined by the founder of Climax, the sex-education platform that has also arrived in Italy after the success achieved in France and England, aims to fill the pleasure gapthat satisfaction gap between males and females, through video series.

The latter want to teach – starting from the assumption that everyone can learn – to achieve sexual satisfaction, with many benefits: “Procuring pleasure on a regular basis has a significant influence on our physical and mental well-being and leads to better self-esteem, a decrease in anxiety, to better sleep. It increases social relationships by reducing the use of social networks» and dismantles a series of popular beliefs of which (can I finally say it now that the piece is about to end?) we are quite tired of.

Let’s start and end with what Asjia Tilotta told me was the most urgent for her to remove: «A woman’s orgasm is not a trophy of her partner. If a woman has an orgasm, the partner in most cases takes credit for it (even if only subconsciously). If a woman does not orgasm, the partner makes it personal to her. Shall we leave it to that woman, her orgasm?” Other than Cara Delevingne’s, that’s what we need.

Source link

About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

Check Also

Groundhog Day and the 10 Most Absurd “Time Loops” in Cinema | Vanity Fair Italy

Today, Canada and the United States celebrate the Groundhog Day (Groundhog Day). Famous holiday also …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *