Warning: This post contains stuff about sex. Specifically, women and sex. If you’re prone to blushing, don’t read it. Or do and just don’t tell anyone. Or go read 50 Shades of Grey and then pretend you didn’t.
So, the other night, I checked out the documentary Orgasm, Inc. on Netflix. (For the record: It’s not about porn. Also for the record: I wouldn’t have watched it if it had been.) Let me tell you, I had no idea that there was this entire medical thing going on where women are being told that they are “sexually dysfunctional.” Apparently, though, this really exists.
One of the reasons that has happened is that we’re all taught that sex is so special and awesome and fabulous, but we have no idea (outside of the basics) about how it really works and what’s normal. Or, at least, we don’t know what’s normal for women.
That isn’t surprising to me. Up until fairly recently, in all areas of health and medicine, research was based on men. One glaringly obvious example is symptoms of a heart attack. It turned out, after some research that actually involved women for a change, that women don’t have the same symptoms as men. This is true in a lot of other ways, too. For years, even doctors didn’t know much about the female body and how it responds sexually.
Some years ago, the big statistic floating around was that 43% of women had some kind of sexual dysfunction. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear that you go, “Say what?” Because 43% sounds like either an epidemic or (more likely) the result of really shoddy research.
After that, the race was on to find a treatment. No joke, pharmaceutical companies invented everything from testosterone patches to pills to surgically implanted nerve simulators (yes, really). Not surprisingly, everything was fairly risky and there were no consistently observable benefits.
Guess why that was?
Maybe it was because 43% of women are not dysfunctional. We just don’t understand our own bodies. We don’t hear it from our mothers, who either don’t know themselves or are too embarrassed to talk about it. We don’t hear it at school, where teachers are prohibited from talking about anything but the basic mechanics. We don’t hear it at church, where 9 times out of 10 it’s either men dragging out tired phrases (“men are microwaves, women are crock-pots”) or little else besides “Don’t do it unless you’re married!” Along with that, advice for men on how to help their wives in bed isn’t, well, helpful. It ignores basic biology. I’ve seen everything, including claims (always made by men) that it’s “all in our heads” if we aren’t fully enjoying sex (FYI: It’s not). Even our husbands can’t really help!
So where are we supposed to learn about our bodies?
You know, I made it through adolescence, nursing school, and well into adulthood before I had any idea what was truly normal. And trust me, none of it lined up with anything I’d heard before. I’m guessing that this is probably true for the majority of the women who are “dysfunctional.”
If you have Netflix, I recommend the film. It was certainly enlightening. Because I don’t want to turn this blog into a lesson on Female Sexuality 101, I’m going to link to some great resources. Please don’t be put off just because there may be things you morally disagree with (such as whether or not premarital sex is sinful). Don’t throw out the stuff that you can use within marriage just because someone else chooses to use it outside marriage. Also, this is not just for women. Men, I promise that learning about your wife’s body isn’t going to lead you into some kind of porn addiction. Porn is really different from an anatomy lesson. Believe me, if you learn anything about women’s bodies, your wife will be thrilled. (Probably, if you’re married, your best bet is to read these things together so that you can talk about it.)
Innies & Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More
Yield for Pleasure
Sexual Response & Orgasm: A Users Guide
Female Orgasm May Be Tied to ‘Rule of Thumb’
I can’t orgasm from intercourse and it’s ruining my relationship!
A Critic Takes On the Logic of Female Orgasm
How To Find the Clitoris
You Can’t POP Your Cherry! (HYMEN 101)
Join me tomorrow when I wrap up with part 3, where we put this all together and consider how we can talk to our kids without fear that we’re inciting them to behavior we don’t condone.