The War Against Acknowledging and Embracing the Force of the Female Sex Drive (Love vs Sex 241)

In 1850, the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal declared masturbation public enemy number one, warning: “Neither plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor a crowd of similar evils, have resulted more disastrously for humanity than the habit of masturbation: it is the destroying element of civilized society.”

Children and adults were warned that masturbation was not only sinful, but very dangerous—sure to result in severe health consequences, including blindness, infertility, and insanity. Besides, these atrocities intoned, “normal” women has little sexual desire anyway.

In his Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1886, German neurologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing declared what everyone already thought they knew: “If [a woman] is normally developed mentally and well-bred, her sexual desire is small. If this were not so, the whole world would become a brothel and marriage and a family impossible.” To have suggested that women enjoyed, indeed needed regular orgasmic release, would have been shocking to men and humiliating to most women. Perhaps it still is.

While the anti-masturbation frenzy has roots deep in Judeo-Christian history, it found unfortunate medical support in Simon André Tissot’s A Treatise on the Disease Produced by Onanism, published in 1758. Tissot apparently recognized the symptoms of syphilis and gonorrhea, which were considered a single disease at the time. But he misunderstood these symptoms as signs of semen depletion due to promiscuity, prostitution, and masturbation.

A century later, in 1858, a British gynecologist named Isaac Baker Brown (president of the Medical Society of London at the time) proposed that most women’s diseases were attributable to overexcitement of the nervous system, with the pudic nerve, which runs to the clitoris, being particularly culpable. He listed the eight stages of progressive disease triggered by female masturbation:

  1. Hysteria
  2. Spinal irritation
  3. Hysterical epilepsy
  4. Cataleptic fits
  5. Epileptic fits
  6. Idiocy
  7. Mania
  8. Death

Baker Brown argued that surgical removal of the clitoris was the best way to prevent this fatal slide from pleasure to idiocy to death. After gaining considerable celebrity and performing an unknown number of clitorectomies, Baker Brown’s methods fell out of favor and he was expelled from the London Obstetrical Society in disgrace. Baker Brown subsequently went insane, and clitorectomy was discredited in British medical circles.

Unfortunately, Baker Brown’s writing had already had a significant impact on medical practices across the Atlantic. Clitorectomies continued to be performed in the United States well into the twentieth century as a cure for hysteria, nymphomania, and female masturbation. As late as 1936, Holt’s Diseases of Infancy and Childhood, a respected medical- school text, recommended surgical removal or cauterization of the clitoris as a cure for masturbation in girls.

By the middle of the twentieth century, as the procedure was finally falling into disrepute in the United States it was revived with a new rationale. Now, rather than a way to stomp out masturbation, surgical removal of large clitorises was recommended for cosmetic purposes.

Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that more than 100 million girls and women are living with the consequences of genital mutilation.

Before the war on drugs, the war on terror, or the war on cancer, there was the war on female sexual desire. It’s a war that has been raging far longer than any other, and its victims number well into the billions by now. Like the others, it’s a war that can never be won, as the declared enemy is a force of nature. We may as well declare war on the cycles of the moon.

If psychiatrist Mary Jane Sherfey was correct when she wrote, “The strength of the drive determines the force required to suppress it” (an observation downright Newtonian in its irrefutable simplicity), then what are we to make of the force brought to bear on the suppression of the female libido?

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

The History of Hysteria: Pathologizing the Female Libido (Love vs Sex 240)

Hysteria was one of the first diseases to be described formally. Hippocrates discussed it in the fourth century BCE, and you’ll find it in many medical text covering women’s health written from medieval times until it was removed from the list of recognized medical diagnoses in 1952 (twenty-one years before homosexuality was finally removed). Hysteria was still one of the most diagnosed diseases in the Unites States and Great Britain as recently as the early twentieth century. You might wonder how physicians treated this chronic condition over the centuries.

We’ll tell you. Doctors masturbated their female patients to orgasim. According to historian Rachel Maines, female patients were routinely massaged to orgasm from the time of Hippocrates until the 1920s. Have a seat; the doctor will be right with you. . . .

While some passed the job off to nurses, most physicians performed the therapy themselves, though apparently not without some difficulty. Nathaniel Highmore, writing in 1660, noted that it was not an easy technique to learn, being “not unlike that game of boys in which they try to rub their stomachs with one hand and pat their heads with the other.”

Whatever challenges male physicians faced in mastering the technique, it seems to have been worth the effort. The Health and Diseases of Women, published in 1873, estimates that about 75 percent of American women were in need of these treatments and that they constituted the single largest market for therapeutic services.

Much of this information comes from The Technology of Orgasm, Maines’s wonderful book on this “disease” and its treatment through the centuries. And what were the symptoms of this “disease”? Unsurprisingly, they were identical to those of sexual frustration and chronic (unsatiated) arousal: “anxiety, sleeplessness, irritability, nervousness, erotic fantasy, sensations of heaviness in the abdomen, lower pelvic edema, and vaginal lubrication.”

This supposed medical treatment for horny, frustrated women was not an isolated aberration confined to ancient history, but just one element in an ancient crusade to pathologize the demands of the female libido—a libido that experts have long insisted hardly existed.

The men who provided this lucrative therapy didn’t write about “orgasm” in the medical articles they published on hysteria and its treatment. Rather, they published serious, sober discussion of “vulvular massage” leading to “nervous paroxysm” that brought temporary relief to the patient.

Maines found “no evidence that male physicians enjoyed providing pelvic massage treatments. On the contrary, this male elite sought every opportunity to substitute other devices for their fingers.”

(The Hamilton Beach Company of Racine, Wisconsin, patented the first home-use vibrator in 1902, making it {only} the fifth electrical appliance approved for domestic use. By 1917, there were more vibrators than toasters in American homes.)

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010




Animalistic Sexuality (Love vs Sex 234)

Our unique brains result from our chatty sociability. Though debate rages concerning precisely why the human brain grew so quickly, most would agree with the anthropologist Terrence W. Deacon when he writes, “The human brain has been shaped by evolutionary processes that elaborated the capacities needed for language, and not just by a general demand for greater intelligence.”

In a classic feedback loop, our big brains both serve our need for complex, subtle communication and result from it. Language, in turn, enables our deepest, most human feature: the ability to form and maintain a flexible, multidimensional, adaptive social network. Before and beyond anything else, human beings are the most social of all creatures.

We have another quality that is especially human in addition to our disproportionately large brains and associated capacity for language. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is also something woven into our all-important social fabric: our exaggerated sexuality.

No animal spends more of its allotted time on Earth fussing over sex than Homo sapiens—not even the famously libidinous bonobo. Although we and the bonobo both average well into the hundreds , if not thousands, of acts of intercourse per birth—way ahead of any other primate—their “acts” are far briefer than ours. Pair-bonded “monogamous” animals are almost always hyposexual, having sex as the Vatican recommends: infrequently, quietly, and for reproduction only. Human beings, regardless of religion, are at the other end of the libidinal spectrum: hypersexuality personified.

Human beings and bonobos use eroticism for pleasure, for solidifying friendship, and for cementing a deal (recall that historically, marriage is more akin to a corporate merger than a declaration of eternal love). For these two species (and apparently only these two species), nonreproductive sex is “natural,” a defining characteristic.

Does all of this frivolous sex make our species sound “animalistic”? It shouldn’t. The animal world is full of species that have sex only during widely spaced intervals when the female is ovulating. Only two species can do it week in and week out for nonreproductive reasons: one human, the other very human like. Sex for pleasure with various partners is therefore more “human” than animal. Strictly reproductive, once-in-a-blue-moon sex is more “animal” than human. In other words, an excessively horny monkey is acting “human,” while a man or woman uninterested in sex more than once or twice a year would be, strictly speaking, “acting like an animal.”

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

High Drive and OCD Expression in the Realm of (Female) Sexual Desire (L vs S 231)

I just stumbled upon this. Excellent commentary about OCD and how it may relate to sex, especially in females whom in which such thoughts are supposed to reflect some tragic flaw of character and soul. I believe OCD is a product of inherent individual drive and drive varies significantly between Betas and Alphas. To not understand drive and the manifestations it may take or to try and deny its impact on an individual or attempt to replace it with some concept postulated by someone who is a low drive creature is a recipe for disaster, anxiety, and madness.

Love vs Sex 206 (# 28 on Tantric Sex)

This is my response to a highly relevant comment that a blogger made regarding one of my tantric sex posts.

The point you raise about multiple orgasmic sex vs Tantra and its minimal “orgasmic” approach, has been my most unsettling glitch of contemplation on the subject. To induce (or aid in the induction of) a state of multiple or persistent or rolling orgasmic bliss in a woman, is damn near nirvanic by itself for both partners in sexual union. It sounds like you agree with that point. It might just be my crazed, rewritten, bastardization of Tantra or Neo-Tantra, but my opinion is that it is more about the intent, the awareness, and the energy exchange (draining, neutral, or giving), than orgasmic avoidance per se to trap the sexual energy within the body(ies). In other words, I fully believe that the two are not in conflict or antagonistic with one another, when the energy exchange is giving and bi-catalytic or bi-fissional, the intent is true union, and the awareness titillatingly slips into wrapping and dancing and flowing and ebbing itself, in and around and about, your partner, and the blissful energy of the universe. That approach removes the addictive demon of distraction and unilateral energy drain. I believe with the right lover, though a rare find indeed, your soul will sing and writhe with the heavens as it should. You (yes specific and intended) aren’t a person intended to masturbate by yourself. You are a creature of union…this is more than obvious to me by your comments. Creatures of empathy and union are not creatures of isolation and egocentric pleasure, no matter their indoctrination or what they have falsely come to believe. Creatures of empathy and union need to bathe sweetly and blissfully and titillatingly in tender empathic union with one another, to obtain the peace and resonance of om within their perpetual existence. Less is only distraction and it will never do.

Cribb          2016

Love vs Sex 205 (#27 on Tantric Sex)

Tantra’s creation myth pictures the goddess Shakti making love to her consort Shiva. From this ecstatic union rains down a golden nectar which bathes the created world in bliss. Tantric writings describe the Hindu goddess Shakti as achieving seven peaks of ecstasy, each peak higher, stronger, and more powerful than the preceding one, until at the topmost she releases her nectar (female ejaculation). This nectar, amrita, is considered spiritual food for the universe, a pure joy, which radiates into the hearts of mortals.

Tantric Sex

Cassandra Lorius          1999

Cribb Comment:

Shakti is viewed as a woman or female goddess, but the term is synonymous with the energy of universal creation. Shakti also manifests itself in the more specific and differing forms of other goddesses. Her energy is unfocused and flowing chaotically through the universe, and she needs to form union with Shiva to give herself the focus of consciousness.

Shiva is viewed as a man or a male god, whose purpose is to receive the divine energies of Shakti in the act of making love (upper transcending sexual union). Shiva requires union with Shakti to transform his focus of sensation into physical form. 

Tantra believes that significant elements of Shakti and Shiva live in all men and women, and that it is imperative for each of us to acknowledge these inner energies, so that we may form a true union with the opposing or complementary energies in our partner.

I personally believe the reference to female ejaculate or nectar to be especially relevant. I believe all women are capable of “squirting” and I don’t view the pure act as some form of demeaning trick or freak show to dehumanize or despiritualize sexual union. The act has often be rewritten as so many things are, but that is rewriting and the bastardizing of something pure and natural. “Squirting” appears to be a true sign of a higher level of sexual union. It would appear to require the contributions of awareness and the effort of skillful sensitivity by a man coupled with the awakening or opening of vulnerability within the heart and soul of a woman. It may not be the end all be all of everything, but it still might serve as a guiding light or celestial map for our journey, pointing all of us in the right direction for supreme transcending union.

Cribb          2016

Love vs Sex 185 (#22 on Tantric Sex)

Man’s ejaculation is not really an orgasm, although for men the words orgasm and ejaculation are used interchangeably to describe the experience. The semen is just the physical part, but the psychic and spiritual part of orgasm is missed completely. Here is where the highest potential of sex lies. Orgasm is a state where body is no longer felt as matter; it vibrates like energy, like electricity, filled with light. You are without physical boundaries, a dancing, throbbing energy, consumed with the divine. The body becomes vaporous, vibrating in harmony with the beloved, hearts beating together, and then orgasm happens—two become one—a circle pulsating together. This is the ancient symbol of yin and yang, yin moving into yang and yang moving into yin. It is exactly this spiritual state that we are unknowingly seeking in our conventional thiorst for orgams, because in the few seconds of orgasm that we do have, we can yield a higher force.

Tantra offers an orgasm that is a state and not an event. It is interested in being orgasmic, rather than having an orgasm. One is timeless and the other the fewest of seconds. This ecstatic state is an inner phenomenon from which greater joy and fulfillment arises. It is the experience of a valley orgasm, a falling into the ecstatic depths of relaxation. And perhaps out of this a peak can arise from the depths, forging and swirling its way upward orgasmically to its zenith. In this valley of relaxation a man can experience orgasm without ejaculation. The orgasmic energy moves through the body in waves, but there is no physical part to it—the semen remains in the body. And women are known to release copious liquid, a divine nectar called “amrita”, in the moments of ecstasy.

One cannot actively seek a valley orgasm, that is its beauty. It is not a doing, it is a by-product arising out of an intensity of being, profound relaxation. It happens to you, you do not make it happen. We can actively take steps to relax in sex through the Love Keys and give birth to the possibility of such an emerging experience. And the simplest way to approach it is to resist our habit for always going for orgasm or ejaculation. Relax, remain present, and see what happens instead. It does not mean that you never come. It means you extend the lovemaking and save the ejaculation for much later on, or you come less often, and perhaps gradually with less frequency. A variety of enriching and fulfilling experiences begin to engage you and fill out the lovemaking, and correspondingly the interest or dependence on the peak recedes. It depends on you, remembering when we don’t release the sex energy we are literally empowering ourselves.

The Heart of Tantric Sex

Diana Richardson          2003