Orgasm, Agenda, Assimilation, Need, and the Tides (Love vs Sex 249)

But fun for me was sneaking off to peer into a tidal pool to grasp the intricacies of the creatures that lived there. Sustenance for me was tied to ecosystem and habitat, orgasm the sudden realization of the interconnectivity of living things. Observation had always meant more to me than interaction. He knew all of this, I think. But I never could express myself that well to him, although I did try, and he did listen. And yet, I was nothing but expression in other ways. My sole gift or talent, I believe now, was that places could impress themselves upon me, and I could become a part of them with ease. Even a bar was a type of ecosystem, if a crude one, and to someone entering, someone without my husbands agenda, that person could have seen me sitting there and had no trouble imaging that I was happy in my little bubble of silence. Would have had no trouble believing I fit in.

Yet even as my husband wanted me to be assimilated in a sense, the irony was that he wanted to stand out.

“Ghost bird, do you love me?” he whispered once in the dark, before he left for his expedition training, even though he was the ghost. “Ghost bird, do you need me?” I loved him, but I didn’t need him, and I thought that was the way it was supposed to be. A ghost bird might be a hawk in one place, a crow in another, depending on the context. The sparrow that shot up into the blue sky one morning might transform mid-flight into an osprey the next. This was the way of things here. There were no reasons so mighty that they could override the desire to be in accord with the tides and the passage of seasons and the rhythms underlying everything around me.

Annihilation

Jeff Vandermeer          2014

Conquer and Be Conquered (Love vs Sex 248)

Her clever red lips taught him much. Her delicate, supple hands taught him much. Still a boy when it came to love and, moreover, inclined to plunge into his pleasure blindly and insatiably as into a bottomless pit, he learned thoroughly from her that pleasure cannot be taken without giving pleasure in return, and that every gesture, every caress, every touch, every look, every inch of the body, has its secret, the awakening of which affords happiness to the knowing person. She taught him that lovers should not part after a love fest without admiring each other, without feeling they have been conquered as much as they themselves have conquered, so that neither one of them suffers from satiety, boredom, or the unpleasant sensation of having abused the other or having been abused.

Siddhartha

Hermann Hesse          1922

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