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