Ms Magazine tweets:
“Why are we willing to bleach, shave, starve, decorate, lift, implant, glue—while we meekly give up sexual pleasure?”
Now, the article it links to is a fascinating one about the over-use hysterectomies in the US, but that’s not what that tweet made me think about. (If anyone would like to write a post about hysterectomies, either a fellow lady gardener, or a guest, feel free. It is not my area of expertise.)
There’s been a number of articles floating around of late about the female orgasm (usefully summarised here). And of course, they all include the fact that 1 in 10 women don’t/won’t/can’t orgasm. And that makes me sad. That means I know at least a handful of women who have never felt their toes curl. Which is odd, because unless all my female friends are holding out on me (and given what they do tell me, I’d be highly surprised) I know one. One woman who has never had an orgasm. And believe me, I have given her some advice.
But it raises an interesting question. Why, when we expend so much time and money getting it, are we even happy treating the female orgasm as a separate scientific question? Why are we happy that it is treated as a rarity? When I am willing to bet few of us would put up with it being a rarity in our own lives.
We spend, as women, so much time making ourselves look attractive. (To whoever it is we want to look attractive to.) Not that men don’t, especially in recent years. But there is no comparison. We wax, shave, pluck, straighten, blow dry, diet, pierce, uplift, struggle into stockings. You’d think an orgasm would be a small price to pay for all that. So why do scientists keep trying to explain why we have them – as distinct from men – and not just get on with telling us how to have more?
Now, the question of why we do all that – the primping and the corseting – is bigger than one blog post. I can tell you that for me, it’s partly because I know that someone else likes it (the stockings) and partly that I like it for myself (the red lipstick). Feel free to tell me that shaving my legs, or waxing…other parts…is institutional sexism, and that I’m letting the team down. I don’t much care. I’ll do what I need to feel good about myself, thanks very much.
And so, I wonder about those mythical 1 in 10 women. (Not that I think they don’t exist, but I wonder if that is one of those numbers that gets bandied about with little statistical reasoning.) What is it stopping them? Biology? In which case, that’s awful, and heartbreaking. Is it just that they’ve never figured out which combination of buttons to push to get there? Or is it that we’ve been taught for so long we shouldn’t want sex, shouldn’t want pleasure for its own sake, and God forbid we actually ask for it? That sex is just for making babies, and anything else is an (albeit enjoyable) by-product. That really, what we as women want doesn’t matter. We’re just here to look pretty, and that sex is something someone takes from us, something we give up, not something we can legitimately go after for its own sake?