We like to think we live in an extremely free moment in humanity, that we are liberated to the point where sex is no longer taboo and we’re far from the Victorian ideologies that have plagued our society. And yet, so much continues to be a mystery. Believe it or not, there is information that is kept from the public because it’s seen as unimportant. This is the case of female pleasure, although also men are frequently in the dark about their sexuality.
Part of these issues' causes are gender roles, which seem to permeate every aspect of our lives, whether we want them to or not. Men are expected to be ready for sex without any counseling, while women are divided into sluts or frigid. Remember Freud’s Madonna-Whore complex? You know, the one about men having an easier time developing sexual feelings for an “unsuitable” woman than desiring the one they “love”? But let’s leave the sexist theories aside for now.
If we go back in history, we’ll notice that while sex was taboo when it was with multiple partners or, in certain cultures, outside of marriage, people were actually pretty open about talking about it with their physicians or people in general. In fact, as author Mary Roach explains in her Ted Talk “10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Orgasm,” back in Ancient Greek doctors claimed the orgasm was necessary for conception. So if it’s recorded in the times of Hippocrates, it wasn’t something people were really ashamed of.
What is interesting about the history of the orgasm is that there are lots of studies about the male one. Even Kinsey himself decided to test out a theory of just how far ejaculation could travel. The winner almost reached a distance of 8 feet. However, what startles several scientists and medical experts is that there are still several questions regarding female orgasm.
Dr. Andrew Goldtstein, director of the Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders, claims that prior to delving into more research on nerve endings and sensorial areas in women’s bodies, "I had one 45-minute lecture on female sexual function, and I can tell you what was said during that 45 minutes was almost all completely wrong.”
So, we need to ask ourselves as a society, "how can we ask our medical practitioners for information and be better informed?" Instead of taking advice from whoever is sitting next to us at the bar or on TV, we should be confident enough to ask our doctors for help when something is clearly not working.
What works about our society's open talk about sexuality is that we don’t have to be ashamed of wanting to feel or achieve pleasure. Now it is easier for all of us to ask for help. No human body is a "one-size-fits-all" when it comes to physiology. So why do we hope and expect for a single formula to work on everyone?
According to Roach, there are accounts of people reaching orgasm in the weirdest of ways; she’s even met a woman who can bring herself to orgasm just by thinking of it. But for the rest of us, it’s just a matter of being open, experimenting, and, if necessary, asking for help.