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Sally Swift

Sally Swift
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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June 14
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VP, Repartee
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sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me

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JANUARY 7, 2009 1:22AM

Defending the Female Orgasm, I'll Have What She's Having

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This post was inspired by Gwool's review of sex studies, Ideal Time For Sex Is How Long????  And by Meg Ryan.

"The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical." Wilhelm Reich

A book came out a couple years ago which is still the object of substantial scientific debate. It takes on virtually all previous studies on human sexuality, specifically the subject of female orgasm. Thinking women, liberal or conservative, will not be thrilled by this book. Fundamentalist Christians, on the other hand, will be ecstatic.

Apparently scientists and anthropologists have spent the past 74 years studying human and primate sex drives--including the female orgasm--from a strictly evolutionary standpoint. Dr. Elisabeth Lloyd, Indiana University philosopher of science and professor of biology, with am impressive CV thislong, has reviewed those studies.

Her book, "The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution" concludes the extensive research collectively substantiate the claim that the female orgasm has zero value in the perpetuation of the species.

Well. Bummer.

And I beg to differ. I'm no scientist but I know what I like. And I wouldn't have perpetuated anything with anybody who couldn't bring me sexual bliss.

However, back to pure science. Lloyd's book analyzes 32 studies on the female orgasm which attempted to link it to the same evolutionary imperative as the male orgasm, clearly biologically engineered for procreation. She says none of them did the job.

Women can have sex, and get pregnant without orgasm playing any biological role. Dr. Lloyd believes that fact alone debunks the scientific, Darwin-inspired theory that all human functions have an evolutionary genesis.

Other biologists don't agree with Dr. Lloyd's thesis. Interestingly, some of the most vocal among them are men. And their reasoning is, well, typically male. Dr. John Alcock (his real name, I swear) of Arizona University posits that a woman could view achieving orgasm as "an unconscious way to evaluate the quality of the male."

Is he kidding? Any woman with a pulse could have told him that. Of course what he means is that achieving female orgasm is an unconsciously selective method for females to determine a male's genetic suitability for procreation.

Pardon my lapse into scientific jargon here, but I just have to add: Duh.

Although there are segments of the female population sadly not enlightened, empowered, educated enough to seek, expect or demand orgasm from themselves and their partners, it still remains a fairly universal and logical predictor of a desire to move forward into marriage, and for many, subsequent procreation.

Another female scientist weighs in with a highly disturbing view pf the research. Dr. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, emeritus professor of anthropology at University of California says, "Perhaps the reason [female] orgasm is so erratic is that it's phasing out. Our descendants on the starships may well wonder what all the fuss was about."

Excuse me, female orgasm is nothing more than fuss? S H U T!  U P!

Okay, not quite the reasoned response I was going for, but gloryoski, what a dismal prospect. I suspect Dr. Hrdy spends way too much time in her lab. And way too little time getting off.

But if Dr. Lloyd is right, and Darwin's theory, when applied to female orgasm, just doesn't hold up, that worries me. Not because I'm a strict Darwinist, although I do believe in a primarily scientific rather than creationist explanation for the origin of the species.

But I'm also just spiritual enough, and cautiously optimistic enough to hope that in some unknown and unknowable way there is also another, greater force at work.

Still, this is a slippery slope. Women have enough trouble achieving parity in our still male-dominated society. A scientific claim that our most intimate sexual response ultimately shows us to be evolutionary inferiors is grist for too many strict Creationist and Radical Christian Right antifeminist mills.

Which makes me wonder, what would Sarah Palin say? Wait! Retracted. I don't give a damn.

With the debate on the Theory of Evolution Vs Creationism always a hot button fueled by the efforts of those determined to introduce a biblical interpretation of human origins into our children's classrooms, one can see Evangelical Christians salivating at the prospect of new ammunition in the battle to put women, and Darwinism way, way, WAY down.

We would all do well to maintain a certain amount of skepticism about either camp's claims. No matter how we got here, we still need each other, and a healthy sex drive, to stay here. Not to mention ... pleasure.

And let's face it, sexuality and the ability to have orgasms is integrated into human physiology for a reason. Whether intended for procreation or in the case of females, as Dr. Lloyd suggests, "just for fun," orgasms have enormous intrinsic value all on their own.

Frankly I think any woman, scientist or not, who would deny the value of a female orgasm, just simply hasn't experienced one.

 

orgasm 

So there.

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Ladies, have you had your orgasm today? Some scientists say, "So what? It doesn't count."
They know not of what they speak. I think Dr Hrdy needs some good sex.

"And I wouldn't have perpetuated anything with anybody who couldn't bring me sexual bliss."

I think you said it all right there.
Perhaps you should make a few suggestions to to Dr. Hrdy about what she might do for herself with one of those test tubes in her lab. A little dangerous perhaps, but isn't that part of the thrill?
there's something wrong with the science there- the mail orgasm is not the same thing as ejaculation, as not at all necessary for procreation. There can be ejaculation without orgasm and orgasm without ejaculation.
Also: the clitoris serves no biological function beyond containing 8000 nerve endings - it appears that the man in the boat has one job only, and that's female sexual arousal. So apparently we are 'designed' for pleasure.
Speaking as a member of the inferior sex (is there any other kind of sex?), from a purely biological standpoint, do women really choose to procreate with men because of orgasms? Doesn't tall, dark, handsome, intelligent, rich and well-connected have any bearing on reproduction? Just asking.
sally, how swiftly i count the moments to my next one...just give me some more of that fuss, pulllleeeeeeeeze. rated for content
well-"connected" to the whole body and to my own is a major plus in my book, tom. of course i wouldn't turn down: intelligent, dark and handsome, wealthy and let's not forget playful.
Sandra

"There can be ejaculation without orgasm and orgasm without ejaculation."


But few ever experience that.

Seems that procreation functions tend to be enjoyable whether it is eating the peach fruit or the dogs humping in the front yard.
Didn't this article appear about three years ago in "Parade" magazine....right next to "I lost 10 pounds on the grapefruit diet?"
Thanks Sally
Orgasms get deeper and stronger with menopause. A real compensation!
paris pace is right. we thrive in happy tribes. also, we thrive in happy couples. humans do best as long term bonding pairs--reinforced by great sex.
my wife, the golden delight of the universe, has great big orgasms, and i find myself getting further into it since being with her~ and what do you know, it means opening the car door for her is a pretty good deal. excellent reinforcement.
can't study human behavior without taking bonding into account, we're social animals.
(p.s. my wife had big orgasm giving birth too...)
may I order a button please?
slightly off topic - that photo of Meg Ryan makes me so sad about what she's done to herself... I so wish she'd allowed herself to age gracefully as an American Sweetheart at all ages.
It wasn't until after my kids were born that I experienced my first true mind bending, earth shattering orgasm...and am I GLAD I did!...junk1
I don't know how that's possible, when an orgasm that follows ejaculation (or, oh illusive thing, coincides with it) greatly enhances the chances of the sperm meeting some nice ova...
You mean my wife didn't just pee in the bed? Maybe I'll have to keep my eyes open next time.
There was a time I faked it even better than Meg Ryan did in the movie. Nobody gets away with me having to do that anymore. And I mean nobody. Not even me. ;)
It takes a lot of energy to have sex. That's no big deal if you're well-fed and bored with watching Survivor, but a huge deal if you're subsisting on berries and grubs. Stimulation and climax motivate near-starving people to spend the energy on something besides clubbing one another over the head and defending against unfriendly mastodons. Sure, she could have sex without such a reward, but why would she? Cave guys usually just aren't that cute.
Sally Swift,
You are one hilarious woman! One thing I know, if you're not getting the job done for your woman, You ain't going to be around long. As it should be.

There is an old Chinese proverb that goes something like this, The true measure of a great lover is not a man that brings pleasure to many women in a lifetime. The true measure of a great lover is a man that can bring pleasure to ONE woman for a lifetime.

Any man that doesn't put the pleasure of his woman first is a fool.

Dr. John Alcock?? Hi, I'm Dr john Alcock.
Yeah, sure you are buddy!
Hey, I'm a guy. Maybe I shouldn't weigh in on this BUT (oh, the proverbial BUT), I have been with the same woman for 23 years, so I know a thing or too about the "O" word.

I'll just say that it's VERY possible to both procreate and enjoy the process in the process. The words from Dr. Frigid would not resonate well with my wife. They don't with me. We (as a species) have enough stress and lack of enjoyment in our lives. Now Dr. Frigid wants to claim that the female (or male, God forbid) orgasm is pure bunk? As Natalie said so eloquently, "They know not what they speak."

The "When Harry Met Sally" scene caused more men to turn to their wives and look with suspicion than ANY single scene in cinematic history. It made us think and focus just a little bit harder. (pardon the pun!)

rated!
No orgasm and you don't get invited back for a repeat performance. Period. Do I have to say more?
Right on.

I remember once having a conversation with a girl, in a room full of women, where she said, "Well, the orgasm isn't real anyway." There was a long pause, and then I said, "Oh no." and someone else said, "You haven't ever had one, have you?" And her face kind of crumpled when she realized she was wrong and had been missing out, most likely due to the repressive South and a crappy boyfriend.

Rather obviously, scientists are being stupid here. Or have never had one. What would make one more likely to choose and retain one partner over another if not the ability to have great sex, on a regular basis?

Plus, it's a pretty common side conversation among doctors when people are trying to get pregnant that the orgasm can help draw the sperm into the right area.
Good lord, I'm no scientist, but the female orgasm is a thing of beauty, and the process of bringing it about is (and should well be considered) an art. And I'm a big fan of art.
I was in a heavy metal band where I was the token screamer and would literally fake an orgasm onstage.... The band didn't make it so long. About 3-13 minutes in the limelight.
As for the real O-bomb, if I would have known that those things were real when I was sixteen, I would have waited YEARS to have sex and have higher standards. But hindsight is 20/20. If teens were taught to flick the bean, I'm sure they would be much less interested in doing the deed in the park when I was 16 and a half. Oh maybe a little TMI. I digress.
Our happiness is valid! It is our anatomical right to feel just as good as our counterparts in intercourse. These silly little studies really put our rights to pleasure and joy on a lower shelf. Thats flustering. Where did I put that vibrator.......
Oh Sally ... you know it counts ...

Thanks for this informative and somewhat baffling scientific report.
From a purely practical point-of-view, a man willing to go the extra mile to please his partner may be more likely to stick around and help raise the offspring, thus helping to ensure the survival of the species.
Ride, Sally, ride! Oh, and was it Freudian or on purpose when you mentioned "slippery slope" and "hot button"?

You learn the most interesting things here. Let me just add that as you get older it takes longer but is still there.
There are many silly things that people spend countless hours (nay, days and/or weeks!) thinking about. For scientists (?) to spend years of research on the female orgasm seems a bit much. The collective mind-power of these so-called scientists probably could have cured cancer or something. Sexual satisfaction and compatibility are the heart of many relationships, but I think it is a bit much to conclude from these studies that people are implying that women are evolutionary inferiors to men because the female orgasm serves no other purpose. Most sex in nature is done simply for procreation and not for pleasure -- animals rut because they have some innate sense that is what they are supposed to do. Few - if any - other animals have sex for pleasure. So why the hubbub?
Wait -- I just realized! When Harry Met Sally? Sally Swift? Darlin', it appears you've been an inspiration to more than one man!

BTW, it isn't just guys that should have taken a lesson from that movie. Ladies, the better you are at fakin' it, the less likely you are to get the real thing.
I love this... I love it that women bring this issue to light! I've always wondered about the evolutional basis for female orgasm too. I never knew (or cared), until I met the man of my dreams, and had mind-blowing orgasms... and let me tell you, having these pleases him - therefore keeping his desire to please me abundant! Could it possibly reinforce monogamy? Could it be a sign from a woman that she is healthy and vital and the orgasm relases hormones that enhance some kind of procreational superiority?



Ah shucks, it was worth a try...
Sally, since you recently posted about another kind of orgasm, somebody -- might as well be me -- needs to mention those damned pigs and their 30 minute orgasms -- I wonder if that applies to sows, too?

And why the hell are scientists studying the length of pig orgasms anyway? In my next life, I'm coming back as a pig (some say I already am, but I doubt that since I've never had a 30-minute orgasm!)
Your on a roll, Sally. Back to the closet for me!
Orgasms = bliss = happiness = good things for women and men

How much simpler can it be?

A woman's orgasm is beautiful and mystical. As far as the "biological impetus" for it, let's not forget scientists used to think eating margerine was good for you.

When it comes to the great unknowns...the best scientists scratch their head and say "damned if I know".
Sally. I actually remember watching a science channel thing on the female orgasm suggesting it did enhance procreation. This thing had up close pictures of the cervix spasming during orgasm thereby having the tip of the cervix dip down in what would likely be a pool of fluid containing a few of the male swimmers.

I have also heard of couple infertility, whereby the fluid (enzymes?) secreted by the female actually kill off the little buggers before they reach paradise.

Personally I love'em. It is far more fun feeling theirs than feeling my own, and, it is all about me, after all.
My friend Frigidia (NOT HER REAL NAME) says she's spent time staring at ceilings and thinking she deserved an Oscar. I do think some people--rare though they are--are incapable, or nearly so. It is probably often something in their environment--either child abuse or just a bad lover or self image, but I do think it's possible that some people aren't wired with the capability--either from their minds or lower--to achieve.
jeez, Sally, you're at it again! Think I'll have what YOU'RE having! Once again, however, you've caught me pre-coffee. See ya later.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm having trouble seeing Dr. Lloyd's separation of orgasm and procreation as being a blow against equality or a devaluing of the female orgasm. It certainly doesn't amount to calling women "evolutionarily inferiors." Even if the female orgasm IS going the way of the pinky toe and the appendix, how does that make it less worthwhile? I don't know anyone who evaluates anything in their lives based on its evolutionary functionality. I don't think any man anywhere is going to take a stand and refuse to help his wife/girlfriend/total stranger reach orgasm on the grounds that it's not a procreative necessity. First of all, I have serious doubts that much of the sex being had is procreative anyway, in light of the widespread use of various methods of birth control. Insisting on female orgasm-free sex while wearing a condom is like insisting on fat-free cupcakes. What's the point? Second, I think we're giving the radical Christian right too much credit. I have lots of problems with their platform, but I don't presume to think that they don't enjoy terrific sex. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that domineering patriarchs who wrongheadedly insist on confining women to domestic roles try to give their significant others orgasms. And certainly creationists couldn't possibly care if the female orgasm loses its evolutionary street cred, for the same reason I don't care if a revelation in textual interpretation deprives female orgasm of its scriptural street cred. I don't read this researcher as saying that orgasms are worthless (I'm fairly confident Dr. Lloyd is pro-orgasm), only that their procreative necessity isn't what we thought. That's a pretty narrow conclusion.
Sandra no longer Miller is right. Maybe sex was designed for procreation and orgasm designed to keep us trying. I tried all day, even until there was nothing left to ejaculate, and I still didn't get it right... the male orgasm is elusive.
Personally, I'm thrilled that female orgasm has nothing to do with procreation. I'm thrilled that it seems to exist purely and solely for the pleasure of the women, self or other induced. Men can't claim this. I find this most wickedly satisfying.
The more opinions I hear from "experts", the more I resolve to stop listening to them.
Wouldn't the female orgasm increase the female's desire to have intercourse, and thus increase her chances of procreation? Without it, she might think, "Eh, I could take it or leave it" about sex.
Sciencechick votes in favor of female orgasm!
Really, now, come on.
There are TONS of ways that the female orgasm could have been selected for, evolutionarily, without being directly connected to fertilization.

The capacity to orgasm may be inherent to humans, period, because the female and male genital anatomy develops from the same tissue during gestation - and no evolutionary pressures have been exerted against it, because it's low-cost (not a lot of energy in its pursuit), unlikely to effect survival negatively (short enough that you don't get eaten by a wolf during), and wasn't selected against sexually (male humans certainly don't avoid having sex with orgasmic women).

Or, it poses some tangential benefit:

Oxytocin from orgasms created better pair bonds, so females were less likely to stray, and females that are less likely to stray are less likely to trigger infanticidal behavior in males...

Or, it poses a benefit no longer part of society:

Perhaps, if humans were more like bonobos and other primates which use sexual behavior during non-fertile periods as a means of facilitating community bonds, it would be likely that the female orgasm could bond members of a community, which would have a benefit in greater protection of the young, etc, better nutrition for all, or less violence between group members.

Or, if the female orgasm predates the sexual selection in humans which resulted in males being larger and stronger than females, the female orgasm was required as an incentive for females to mate.

As to: perhaps the female orgasm is more erratic because it's phasing out - interesting thing. If you give a crow a piece of corn every time he presses the button, he'll eat corn until he's full. If you give a crow a piece of corn every time he presses a button, and then stop giving corn - he'll eventually stop pressing the button. If you sometimes do and sometimes don't give a crow a piece of corn when he presses a button, he'll keep pressing the button, even if you stop giving any corn, until he dies.

Female orgasm may be so "erratic" and (relatively - I'm actually the worst person to talk on this subject) difficult to achieve because schedules of random reinforcement are, psychologically speaking, the absolute best way to get someone to keep at a given behavior.
Let's hope Oprah's show on the subject is rebroadcast often, complete with graphic instructions on how to locate one's G-spot ("It's that thing that feels like a nose and you know you've found it if when you press on it you feel you need to pee.").

It's outrageous that anyone would belittle the female orgasm. Just ask a woman in a culture where the clitoris is ceremoniously removed or a woman born with an enlarged clitoris that was surgically removed to make adults around her comfortable.
I had two . . . and Dh was almost late for work! Yay!

Anyhoo, wicked post! Pawed and a bump!
So , what have I got to do to participate in that research?

:-D

Science has been so sure about so many things that became provably false. The earth was the center of the universe, the earth was flat, heavier-than-air ships were not possible. Hey, c'mon doc - if ain't fun, WHY DO IT???

Thumbed climactically.
Just off the top of my head after reading this, I can think of 2 scientific reasons for the female orgasm: It tells a woman what kind of stamina a man has (which would predict the "good provider" thing) and it tells her how attentive he is to her feelings (which would predict how he'd be as a mate and also a father to their children).

This isn't rocket science. But then I spend more time in bed than in a lab.
MY GROUND RULE: Commenting on this subject is a pun minefield. They keep popping up like whack-a-moles. So I will just say my piece and expect all of us to groan quietly to ourselves...

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Sandra, I thought the clitoris was the female's truncated version of a penis, reduced during chromosomal gender formation. Dr. Dach? Dr. Amy? And, I've been told some sort of ejaculate can come from the clitoris. And hey, I have no problem being 'designed' for pleasure, so long as I can participate in deciding what kind and when.

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Tom, I don't think women keep an orgasm tally in order to choose a mate. But I do think women count sexual satisfaction high on their list of priorities. (If they don't, how sad). So they'll tend to choose a partner who can come through in that department. And if they want to procreate, they're already mated. Jeez, I can't get out of this loop. Dammit, Tom, you know what I mean.

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Paris, fascinating information, I'm so glad you persevered, since I've been out all day until now. This jumped out at me, if only it were so among humans: "Female orgasm in the bonobo community replaces conflict as a way to solve tensions."

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Dakini, I wasn't aware orgasms get deeper and stronger with menopause, how very cool! Or, well, hot. Not sure for all women though.

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mark armstrong, you are a man among husbands. I envy your wife. Wait, did you say she had big orgasm giving birth?? Great googlymoogly! And you're right, bonding is critical.

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Brian, maybe I can get the OS Collage Team to make up some buttons... Derek??? I agree about Meg Ryan, hardly recognizable these days.

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junk1, Mazel Tov! Welcome to the I Heart Orgasm Club. I wish you many, many more.

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Catnlion, keeping your eyes open is a big part of the fun!

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Rich, I think they've actually done studies in which rats go for the pleasure stimulator rather than the food until they starve. I know some guys like that.

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UK, you said it all!

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Dr Dach, mind boggling... one hydrogen atom. Wow. What's the answer on the clitoris as devolved penis? And on female orgasmic contractions enabling sperm to reach destination?

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Michael Rogers, you say "Any man that doesn't put the pleasure of his woman first is a fool." I think I'm in love with you.

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Greg, this is a subject for both sexes! And I love this: "The "When Harry Met Sally" scene caused more men to turn to their wives and look with suspicion than ANY single scene in cinematic history. It made us think and focus just a little bit harder."

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Liz, that was my rule, two exceptions: 1. I'm not into it myself (stress, pain, etc.) and 2. Contestant willing, nay Eager to follow instructions/suggestions.

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Odette, I bet many women have friends who would've gone orgasm-less without the counsel of a few good pals and/or a man willing to try.

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Meander61, I like your attitude. Good sex with climax is definitely Art.

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rosietherioter, "flick the bean"? Hahahahaha! Never heard that expression, love it! And I think you're right.

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Lea, you crack me up! (oops, I did it again...) Somewhere in this thread Dakini contends they get stronger and better. I agree with everybody. Longer is better too.

Okay, I need a break. I'll be right back.
The problem with your theory about an orgasm being the way to evaluate a male is that women often get pregnant during the evaluation, regardless of whether the man passes the test or fail spectacularly.

I'd say the female orgasm is a way of helping women bond with their mate. Perhaps even helping them reconcile with a mate chosen for them in a patriarchal society.

If you compare humans with apes and chimps, female humans are receptive to sex and interesting to males all through the estrus cycle. Perhaps the orgasm is a way of rewarding women for having non-productive sex on the non-fertile days of her cycle. This keeps her man from straying in search of a more receptive woman.

In short, I'd bet the female orgasm facilitates monogamous pair-bonds, which is the norm for humans, unlike the more communal arrangements of other great apes.
Sally,

You really need to tell us what's on your mind.

Don't hold back.
Well, Sal, again you've stirred the pot. Now you'll have to excuse me -- I have someone to do.
This topic is interesting not for just prurient content!!

There are many excellent responses that deal with deconstructing the evolutionary argument attributed to Dr. Lloyd and summarized by Swift.

As implied by many responses, most evolutionary arguments are poorly constructed. Circularity is a frequent theme -- trait X exists, ergo it must have been selected for. I don't have Dr. Lloyd's work in from of me, so I cannot evaluate her actual argument, but logically this argument is not sustainable. As at least one person has pointed out, if the trait is selectively neutral, then there is no reason for it to be selected against and will persist. The converse, that if a trait is not evolutionarily advantageous, it will be bred out is also not sustainable, especially if the trait is selectively neutral.

Generally I see a lot of mixing of gene selection theories, individual organism selection theories and group selection theories all mish-mashed together here. Which is okay, but I will point out that different arguments (that sometimes contradict each other) are used to support these different classes of theories.

As many have identified, the argument that a phenotypic phenomenon (female orgasm) can only be explained as evolutionarily favored by a direct role in genotypic reproduction (a specific and direct consequence for fertilizing an egg) has a lot of problems with it. Unless someone has argued that the gene for female orgasm has been identified, and clearly this gene is dropping out of our population. Which no-one has. Because a phenotypic and behavioral phenomenon such as the female orgasm is not controlled by one single gene, but rather is quite a complex phenomenon.

I have already made arguments against the mid-20th c. evolutionary psychology hypotheses (e.g. Lovejoy) regarding pair-bonding, female fidelity, etc. in other responses, so I will just let it be said that we should not assume that the roles we valorize in our modern culture -- such as heterosexual monogamy -- have anything to do with a) the way we actually live (think Kinsey) b) have anything to do with the way other modern people around the world live or most importantly c) have anything to do with the way our pre-human ancestors lived millions of years ago.

The point at least one commenter made that we have a lot of sex that has nothing to do specifically with reproduction (a related subject is the 'hidden estrus' of human females -- we do not have obvious outward physical signals of ovulation and sexual receptivity such as the engorged vulvas of chimps) points to the important behavioral role that sex has for us very social animals.

In short, it sounds like Lloyd's conclusions are problematic at best.

And yes, I am a scientist whose work deals with the subject of human evolution.
Allow me to tell an old (and most likely politically incorrect) joke.

At the end of the 7 days of creation, God walks into the garden and encounters Adam & Eve.

God say, "Hey, I was just looking for you guys. Seems I have two human traits left over ---I must have forgotten to include them when I made you. You can each have one. You pick.

God reaches into the bag he's carrying and pulls out "can pee standing up."

Adam immediately starts begging, "Please, please, please, can I have that one? Please Please, please... that sounds so neat. It will be so convenient. Please, please, plezzzze!"

Eve just rolls her eyes and says, "okay, let him have it."

"Okay," God says. "That means Eve gets what's left. And he reaches into the bag and pulls out "multiple orgasms."

Nuff said.
I'm with you Sally. Scientists don't make much about self-expression, and yet, a female orgasm may be the first biologically sourced form of self-expression. What if female orgasm evolved solely as a self-expression? After all, we don't need brains as complicated as the ones we have to procreate or continue the species. We might actually be doing a little less harm if we weren't so damned destructively smart.

And we know how seriously interested and knowledgeable many scientists seem to be when it comes to the arts, and apparently some aren't particularly interested in orgasms either. The fellow who thought it was a way to value the quality of a male as a procreator doesn't seem to have measured whether or not it might be a measure of how much a partner gives a damn about his partner's orgasm. We all know that many men really don't care about anyone any further than themselves sexually.

Phooey to them all and their opinions if they don't think further than that!
Anyone holding that the female orgasm has little, if any, reproductive significance is a farthing idiot. My wife would have killed me years ago if I couldn't make her come.
sally & paris - I think I love you guys. or gals, as it were.

This post rocks - it's a great example of what I love about OS - funny, edgy, informative & interesting.
i'm all for orgasms.

i'm not sure how it fits into evolution, though. didn't most women stick with a single male for the most of the past few thousand years, who they typically selected/married BEFORE having sex with him and determining whether he could give her one?

but it seems our ancestors--male and female--would have been having a lot more sex and therefore children if they were enjoying it more.
I support all organism's orgasms...
I'm so glad this debate is so lively, intelligent And fun! I thank you all for informing us and making us laugh, especially my best buds (you know who you are). I'm cherry-picking some more comments to answer, either to make a point or ask a question.

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cartouche, I'm with you. No faking! Tom makes an excellent point along those lines, "Ladies, the better you are at fakin' it, the less likely you are to get the real thing."

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SmallTimeAtty, the hubbub is about the fact that animals *do* seek pleasure, in whatever form. I mentioned above studies in which rats go for the pleasure stimulator rather than the food until they starve. Paris has given us a great look into the work of Frans de Waals. "de Waals calls bonobos the "free love" apes because they use orgasms as a way to create community harmony and well-being. These primates are closest genetic relatives.

[My favorite part] Female orgasm, in the bonobo community, is not simply about bringing sperm home to momma. Female orgasm in the bonobo community replaces conflict as a way to solve tensions."


And btw, these scientists were studying human sexual response, evolution and human procreation. It was almost an accidental finding that female orgasm is not necessary for procreation, therefore rendering the female's role in the evolutionary irrelevant. I, for one, took issue with that. Clearly, I'm not alone.

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jen son and Malusinka postulate a steady diet of female orgasms could reinforce monogamy. Now there's an interesting proposition! Agree? Disagree?

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Delia, I believe sexual abuse can indeed inhibit the ability to achieve orgasm with a partner, but not alone, when hormones are raging. It's possible to free the ghosts of abuse and achieve not only orgasm with a partner, but trust... that's the key.

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Hobolawstudent brings up the one issue not factored in directly by anyone, including me: the psychological component of female orgasm. It's critical, ask any woman. Plus, to the doctors and scientists here, what about pheromones? Do they go farther than simply attracting a man? Are they by any chance an aphrodisiac for the woman too?

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Hawley, the degradation imposed on women by cultural imperative is horrifying. I fully support castration for any man who forces such grotesque cruelty upon wife or daughter. But that's a whole other serious topic.

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Silkstone gets my point: Giving good orgasm predicts stamina (i.e. "provider instinct") and responsive attentiveness. Though let's face it, some guys find it a turn-on to brag on their abilities to "get a chick off." Blech.

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Name Here makes quite an erudite argument. I get a bit lost around genetics, but everybody should read his/her contribution.

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sorry, but yasir's comment is history, no crass pimping for outside sites on my blog.

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m, love that joke! And if there are women here who have not experienced multiple orgasms (which, btw, are a series of almost simultaneous orgasms within one space of time, not one every 10 minutes), I'm sorry. I call them cascades.

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Dave, all those years of women sticking with a single male before having sex with him make me think thousands of women didn't ever get to find out what good sex is.
Women unable to experience orgasm with the men they love will seek it outside their marriage either in their imaginations or act it out if they can create the opportunity.

The consequent impact on the man in their life is that the "marriage" is never fully consummated and his own virility is not experienced. His emasculation is certain. More than likely, it will turn him into a wreckloose who will lose his own dignity, if not everything he ever expected to become.

So, the value of female orgasm is not just something for women to consider but men too and the children of this couple because they will be the recipients of all this confusion, and then will repeat the process in their own marriages, and most of the time will not even have a clue what the problems really is, or what it stems from.

I must be getting old Sally. I no longer understand the selfishness of people who think it's all about them.
Ben, you make valid points about the ripple effect of an unsatisfactory sex life on a couple and their family. But I have to comment on this: "I must be getting old Sally. I no longer understand the selfishness of people who think it's all about them."

In the obvious context of selfishness in not caring about one's partner's satisfaction or family's serenity, of course I share your sense of near despair. On the other hand, what in the world is ultimately more self-centered than an orgasm? Somehow, both have to be achieved and integrated.
An orgasm is self-centered when it's about getting off for either sex. If that's all that's possible that's well and good, and hygenic (it's not anybodies place to judge in my view if it doesn't hurt another) but if that's all there is--that's not consummation--that's lust--and if that's all a person is able to experience with another I'm not sure it has the value of a chaste relationship where at least there is understanding and acceptance.

I understand for a lot of women, however, just giving themselves permission to get off is a major accomplishment given the strictures they are raised under, or experiences like rape or incest in one form or another that has detached them from their bodies.
BTW, I'm another witness for the "stronger with age" phenomenon. Not that they were shabby when I was younger, but.... I'm really hoping this doesn't change with menopause.
And then there are the bonobos--the chimps who make-a the love instead-a the war.
Whoa, Paris, you go, girl! Great, informative comment, you just said a mouthful (oh, shut up, all you dirty-minds, fancy-pants out there)!

Silkstone, I'm with you, older = stronger. But I thought it had more to do with Empty Nest = ability to scream with abandon. In the real deal, Meg Ryan is a pisher compared to me (whoever doesn't know what a pisher is, ask Lea). Y'all think I've got a big mouth here ... HA! And I've always believed expressing yourself fully contributes to expressing fully, if you know what I mean...

Ben, got it. Finally. Let's hear it for the bononos.
Keep me laughing Sally. I need it right now. Not to mention a good fuck.
Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but I thought I read that female orgasms help draw the semen back deeper into the body, which would strike me as an evolutionary advantage.

And yo, Dr. Lloyd: just because something isn't *required* doesn't mean it isn't an *advantage*. I mean, good vision isn't "required" to reproduce, but it sure helps. Etc. What a bonehead. I mean, so to speak.
A slippery slope, indeed (ahem).
Perhaps it's time for a little "research" of my own.
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Douglas, you know I love you, but I find it difficult to concentrate on your discourse on female orgasm while looking at Linus and his blankie. To give Dr. Lloyd her due, she was responding to studies specifically targeting human procreation as it supports the threory of evolution.

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Laurel, I swear, that was a Freudian slip! I love a good double entendre and I especially love to enclude as many as possible into my lighter writing, but this one was innocent.... just like me. :) Go, research, enjoy.
Sally, that genuinely made me laugh out loud.

And of course, that's part of the reason I use Linus: he was always discoursing on complex existential or theological matters while holding his blanky and sucking his thumb. But if you prefer, I'll send you a photo and you can look at that instead.
The female orgasm has evolved as a way of helping a woman decide which man to mate with. If a man has "better genes" than a woman, her body will tend to orgasm and suck his sperm into her womb.

When a woman doesn't orgasm with a certain man, but she remains with him, her body is strategically using him as a provider/safety while she looks for a lover/sperm donor. When she gets pregnant, she convinces her provider that he's the father and then uses his resourses to raise her offspring.

Women, on average, don't want to have 2 separate men as a lover and provider, but they will if they have to in order to reproduce.