How to Pick a Lover

Posts tagged ‘Orgasm’

Sexual Fulfillment: The Erotic Affair

What is it in men that women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
—William Blake, The William Blake Notebook

How is one best advised to proceed in the quest for sexual fulfillment? Although both men and women may ultimately end up preoccupied with the dynamics of sex and love, it seems possible that given differences in socialization and differences in physiology, they reach their quest by different routes. One maxim frequently cited states that among men, sexual desire begets love whereas among women, love begets sexual desire. In the nineteenth century, the French novelist Rémy de Gourmont put it somewhat more precisely: “Man begins by loving love and ends by loving a woman. Woman begins by loving a man and ends by loving love.”

Although many things have changed since then, our cultural traditions are strong enough that this pattern still holds true for many women. For some women, there may be a spontaneous urge of sexual desire, parallel to that which men experience, which is not appeased by masturbation or by conjugal sex. For many others, however, the inclination toward an erotic affair is not so much a generalized randiness as a wish for a man who would inspire randiness. It is not that they are full of desire, but rather that they want to find a man who would make them feel desire. The libido is there, but it needs to be aroused. They suspect, often correctly, that with a different man or a different kind of man or a man who made love differently, they would be much more turned on. Such inclinations may be difficult to reconcile with how nice, ladylike women are supposed to feel; but it is clear that it is how many of them do feel, whether or not they admit it  to anyone else.

It starts with her beauty in my eyes, it moves...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Casual sexual encounters may provide a certain excitement or may gratify a desire to seduce or to make a conquest. However, the thrill or newness is often counterbalanced by a certain awkwardness and self-consciousness not unlike what people experience in their first encounters. As one woman put it: “The first time with a new man is always a bit like the first time ever.” If everything seems right, the best you can usually hope for is the exultant conviction: “This could be the start of something big!” The second time may be better, the third time better still.

The most exceptional erotic experiences are often the result of a long-term evolving relationship in which increased awareness of each other’s body and responses improves rapport and empathy and moves the encounter to a higher and higher pitch. There is time for experimentation and time to incorporate what the experimentation teaches you about what works best for you both. It is in a developed relationship that one can best hope for that special magic where an erotic experience approaches a transcendental one. In this instance, practice may not make perfect, but it does make for better and better and better. And yet . . . there is also the Coolidge effect.

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“All She Really Needs Is…”

The human spirit sublimates
the impulses it thwarts:
a healthy sex life mitigates
the lust for other sports.
-Piet Hein, Grooks

There is an old husband’s tale about what old husbands tend to call “those women libbers,” and the essence of it is that “they’re all frustrated old maids and all they really need is a good fuck.” Albeit misguided, an old husband’s tale, like an old wives’ tale, may have some germ of truth to it.

A full and rewarding sex life is not only good for your complexion; it is also good for your disposition. The contented body predisposes one toward calmness and serenity. Good lovemaking can generate a kind of peaceful euphoria that carries over into other areas of life, creating feelings of placidity and benevolence. Conversely, a bad sex life, or no sex life at all, predisposes either man or woman to a dour, pessimistic, judgmental view of the world. If you are not having fun, there is nothing more infuriating than to watch other people having fun. If you don’t deserve it, neither do they.

Cover of "Healthy Sex (DK Healthcare)"

Cover of Healthy Sex (DK Healthcare)

Whether or not men and women in such a plight are consciously aware of being frustrated, they are more likely than others to view the world with a jaundiced eye. It is not the absence of orgasms that does it. Orgasms are easy to produce or, if necessary, buy. Orgasms are not the point. If orgasms were all that women wanted, vibrator manufactures could not keep up with the demand. Feeling good or feeling bad relates more to the sense of having this vital and revitalizing human experience or of being denied it.

The absence of physical love erodes the soul and dulls enthusiasm. Your skin gets skin hungry, your dreams are troubled, your temper is sharpened, and your body feels malnourished. You may not have a lean and hungry look, but you will have a hungry one, and you will be more dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that you will feel alienated and isolated from the people around you, and your zest for life may be greatly diminished.

Among other things, making love well, with satisfaction and pleasure, dissipates irritation and petulance. It induces a sense of centeredness and benevolence that is difficult to duplicate. The afterglow is like that of a good meal, but more so; like that of a hot bath, but more so; like that of a massage, but more so; like that of a bottle of wine, but more so, and without the hangover. The afterglow is not only difficult to duplicate, it is difficult to do without—especially if you are among the privileged few who know what you are missing.

And so the old husband’s tale may be true after all. Sometimes, a satisfactory sexual interlude does render you less acrimonious. Without resolving basic discontents, it does make you more placid and therefore more patient and reasonable.

A Woman’s Quest for Fulfillment

Until it is generally possible to acquire erotic personality and to master the art of loving, the development of the individual man or woman is marred, the acquirement of human happiness and harmony is impossible.
—Havelock Ellis

The discovery of female sexuality and the description of the potential pleasures that were involved was touted with considerable publicity. Women were portrayed as being as capable as men of passionate sexuality. They were described as able to experience strong desire and ecstatic orgasmic release. All of the women’s magazines, both the cheap pulp ones and the expensive slick ones, offered the same promise: “It can happen to you!”

The Art of Loving

The Art of Loving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These days, every time you go to your corner convenience store for milk and eggs, you encounter displays of soft porn magazines—and some not-so-soft—which show women apparently enthralled with sexual feeling and delighted with their sexual prowess. This propaganda tends, by implication, to create very high expectations. Women begin to wonder about themselves and to wonder how their actual experience compares with their potential. “Is what I am feeling an orgasm? Am I having enough orgasms? Are they the right kind? Do I have a G-spot? Where, oh, where is it? What’ll happen if I find it?”

Even if you find your sexual relationship with your current boyfriend or husband to be tolerable or acceptable or even pleasurable, you may still wonder, “Is this all there is? Am I missing something.”

And many of you are right to ask such questions. You are missing something.

Next post: “All She Really Needs…”

Women Turning On: The Big O

When modern women discovered the orgasm, it was (combined with modern birth control) perhaps the biggest single nail in the coffin of male dominance.
—Elaine Morgan, The Descent of Women

Once it was finally established that women could have orgasms and that even good women could have good orgasms, there began an intensive search for the Big O. We became less concerned with “does she or doesn’t she have sex” and more concerned with “does she or doesn’t she have orgasms.” The tone of many discussions divided women into two classes: those who were sexually aware and those who were frigid. It was as if sexual feeling was something a woman did or did not have, the way she did or did not have blue eyes or big breasts, and the lucky ones were those who happened to have it. Frigidity was a problem in the woman.

Orgasm Inc. - The Strange Science of Female Pl...

Orgasm Inc. - The Strange Science of Female Pleasure (Photo credit: k-ideas)

It was then discovered that frigidity was perhaps in the situation, not in the woman. If women could have orgasms and had a right to have them, then it was the obligation of the man to give them to her. His task was to please her, and if she was not pleased, it was somehow his fault. A common saying of this time was: “There are no frigid women, there are only women with incompetent husbands.” In some ways, this attitude has not changed all that much as evidenced in an episode of Seinfeld, in which Jerry learns Elaine faked her orgasms while in a romantic relationship with him. He feels emasculated by Elaine’s revelation and accuses her of “sexual perjury” and having orgasms “under false pretenses.” To restore his wounded masculinity, Jerry begs Elaine for another sexual opportunity to prove he is capable of giving her an orgasm.

Sex under these circumstances, evaluated in terms of an important but vague criteria for satisfactory performance, became a difficult and rather joyless task. It was especially threatening for the young and inexperienced boy who was justifiably worried that he might not do it “right” and would thereby fail to meet his partner’s expectations. Thinking along these lines, a curious double standard evolved. The man was considered proficient if he could delay orgasm for a long time: the woman was considered proficient if she could accelerate it.

The whole task was made more difficult by the folk belief that if men and women did everything correctly, they would achieve not only orgasms but simultaneous orgasms. Anything short of this ideal was some kind of failure. No wonder Andy Warhol concluded that “sex is work!” It was not until the sexual revolution of the sexy sixties that we came around to more enlightened views.

The sexual freedom of the sixties was fostered by the introduction of the Pill and the freedom from worry that it granted. It was accelerated by the seminal work of William Masters and Virginia Johnson in Human Sexual Response. Their laboratory study of female sexuality finally produced real data to dispel speculation.

Masters and Johnson established that all (or nearly all) women were capable of sexual feelings and of sexual feelings leading to orgasm. They further established that an orgasm is an orgasm and that the clitoral kind is no more or less real, or more or less mature, than the vaginal kind. More important than these clinical insights, Masters and Johnson taught
us that each individual should take responsibility for his or her own sexuality. The man was not held accountable for the woman’s failure to have a climax; the woman was not held accountable for his failure to become erect. Instead, the sexuality of each individual was defined as something unique to the person, stemming from his or her background and experiences and an aspect of life with which he or she must come to terms. Frigidity and impotence were renamed merely “sexual dysfunctions” and were considered something that should and could be cured.

The new perspective on sexuality minimized performance aspects and stressed sensuality and mutuality. The women’s magazines stopped talking about whether or not women could have orgasm and went on to talk about how women might have multiple ones. Increasingly, it was possible to define sexual encounters not as obligatory tasks to be performed but as opportunities for shared delight. Women were finally becoming empowered to take a more active role in their own sexual pleasure—feeling comfortable enough to touch themselves, to guide their partner’s hand, or to tell their partner what felt pleasurable.

Sexual Foreplay and Feedback

A good example of give and take is to take pains to give pleasure.
—Evan Esar

Making love is a sensation of the body as well as a fantasy of the mind. To be good, it must be just right—not too fast or too slow, too soft or too hard, too hesitant or too insistent. The professional call girl must be willing to put up with inept lovers and must do so tactfully and cheerfully. She is not seeking her own pleasure; she is working and she gets paid accordingly. However, unless you are using your sexuality like a call girl, there is no need for you to settle for inadequate lovemaking, and it is better for your morale and your self-respect not to. But how do you know the skillful from the clumsy? The first fact to remember is that no one but you can know what is sexually just right for you. You can feel your response getting better and warmer and more sensational—or not.

Remember as a child when you played Hide the Thimble? As people wandered around the room, they were told that they were either getting warmer or getting colder. Well, a lot of foreplay is just like that. He does something to you, you do something to him; and by gesture or words or little animal sounds, you tell each other if you are getting warmer or not.
To get these messages—assuming you are wise enough to send them out correctly—he must, first of all, be paying attention. He must be concerned with making you feel good. His concern for your comfort, his willingness to do what is needed to make you feel good will show in lots of other ways before you actually end up in bed.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (film)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

In the film version of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ingrid Bergman tells Gary Cooper, “I did feel the earth move.” Sometimes, the earth does move, but you cannot arrange it anymore than you can arrange a conventional earthquake. It requires not only physical passion but also a combination of urgency and romance and adrenaline and perhaps some celestial event such as an eclipse of the moon.

You need not, should not, expect the earth to move every time. But you should expect every encounter to be, at the very least, pleasant and friendly.You should expect every encoun ter to be emotionally satisfying whether or
not it is orgasmic.

You do not have a right to earthquakes; but you do have a right to lovemaking that is, if not wonderful, at least consistently pleasurable.

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