Everyone applauds the idea that a man should care about his partner’s orgasm. [i] But orgasm is an instinctive response to eroticism that occurs in our own brain not our partner’s. When a couple’s sex life falls apart, therapists focus on issues in the wider relationship rather than discuss sexual techniques. This is because sex is a male need and women need emotional factors to be amenable to offering regular intercourse. Shere Hite’s research confirmed that women engage in sex for emotional reasons. Women rarely refer to eroticism or sexual pleasure at all. Intercourse for men equates to masturbation for responsive women. These activities provide the most rewarding and reliable way for a person to obtain a sexual release.
I have never been embarrassed about sex. I enjoyed erotic fiction from my teenage years and had high expectations for my sex life. Early in my relationship with my long-term partner, we decided to talk to marriage guidance counsellors. A man and a woman worked together. They recommended abstaining from intercourse to allow time to explore each other’s bodies and find other ways of enjoying physical intimacy. The implication was that difficulties were due to timidity or inhibition. Yet, even though nothing worked, I had always been willing to explore sex play with a lover.
I had masturbated myself to orgasm since the age of 17. I was never asked for details. Given the widespread belief that female masturbation is common, it is surprising that no one asks a woman to explain her masturbation techniques. It is often suggested that a woman can masturbate herself to orgasm with a lover. No one ever challenges this suggestion. Many men want the satisfaction of believing that they have caused their lover’s orgasm (especially through thrusting). I found that the two experiences of masturbation and sex with a lover had nothing in common, either in terms of psychological erotic arousal or the physical stimulation technique used.
The counsellors had no explanations for my experiences. Equally they provided no insights into how other women achieve orgasm with a lover. They didn’t specify the anatomy or explain the turn-ons that might cause women to experience the kind of erotic arousal that makes orgasm possible. The man told us that he was aroused by the idea of a woman wearing a bra that exposes her nipples. The woman never referred to her turn-ons. Yet the inherent assumption was that women are aroused just as men are. At the end of the sessions there were no solutions or revelations. It seemed that I was expected to accept things as they were. I was meant to be aroused by the stimulation my partner provided and, if I wasn’t, it was just bad luck.
[i] … the idea has been widely accepted that the effectiveness of a sexual relationship must depend primarily upon the skill and the art of the male partner in physically stimulating the female. (Alfred Kinsey)
Excerpt from Understanding Sexual Response (ISBN 978-0956-894762)