Whenever female orgasm and frigidity
are discussed, a false distinction is made between the vaginal and the clitoral
orgasm. Frigidity has generally been defined by men as the failure of women to
have vaginal orgasms. Actually the vagina is not a highly sensitive area and is
not constructed to achieve orgasm. It is the clitoris which is the center of
sexual sensitivity and which is the female equivalent of the penis.
I think this explains a great many
things: First of all, the fact that the so-called frigidity rate among women is
phenomenally high. Rather than tracing female frigidity to the false assumptions
about female anatomy, our "experts" have declared frigidity a psychological
problem of women. Those women who complained about it were recommended
psychiatrists, so that they might discover their "problem" - diagnosed generally
as a failure to adjust to their role as women.
The facts of female anatomy and
sexual response tell a different story. Although there are many areas for sexual
arousal, there is only one area for sexual climax; that area is the clitoris.
All orgasms are extensions of sensation from this area. Since the clitoris is
not necessarily stimulated sufficiently in the conventional sexual positions, we
are left "frigid."
Aside from physical stimulation,
which is the common cause of orgasm for most people, there is also stimulation
through primarily mental processes. Some women, for example, may achieve orgasm
through sexual fantasies, or through fetishes. However, while the stimulation
may be psychological, the orgasm manifests itself physically. Thus, while the
cause is psychological, the effect is still physical, and the orgasm necessarily
takes place in the sexual organ equipped for sexual climax, the clitoris. The
orgasm experience may also differ in degree of intensity - some more localized,
and some more diffuse and sensitive. But they are all clitoral orgasms.
All this leads to some interesting
questions about conventional sex and our role in it. Men have orgasms
essentially by friction with the vagina, not the clitoral area, which is
external and not able to cause friction the way penetration does. Women have
thus been defined sexually in terms of what pleases men; our own biology has not
been properly analyzed. Instead, we are fed the myth of the liberated woman and
her vaginal orgasm - an orgasm which in fact does not exist.
What we must do is redefine our
sexuality. We must discard the "normal" concepts of sex and create new
guidelines which take into account mutual sexual enjoyment. While the idea of
mutual enjoyment is liberally applauded in marriage manuals, it is not followed
to its logical conclusion. We must begin to demand that if certain sexual
positions now defined as "standard" are not mutually conducive to orgasm, they
no longer be defined as standard. New techniques must be used or devised which
transform this particular aspect of our current sexual exploitation.
Freud - A Father of the Vaginal
Freud contended that the clitoral
orgasm was adolescent, and that upon puberty, when women began having
intercourse with men, women should transfer the center of orgasm to the vagina.
The vagina, it was assumed, was able to produce a parallel, but more mature,
orgasm than the clitoris. Much work was done to elaborate on this theory, but
little was done to challenge the basic assumptions.
To fully appreciate this incredible
invention, perhaps Freud's general attitude about women should first be
recalled. Mary Ellman, in Thinking About Women, summed it up this way:
Everything in Freud's patronizing and
fearful attitude toward women follows from their lack of a penis, but it is only
in his essay The Psychology of Women that Freud makes explicit... the
deprecations of women which are implicit in his work. He then prescribes for
them the abandonment of the life of the mind, which will interfere with their
sexual function. When the psycho-analyzed patient is male, the analyst sets
himself the task of developing the man's capacities; but with women patients,
the job is to resign them to the limits of their sexuality. As Mr. Rieff puts
it: For Freud, "Analysis cannot encourage in women new energies for success and
achievement, but only teach them the lesson of rational resignation."
It was Freud's feelings about women's
secondary and inferior relationship to men that formed the basis for his
theories on female sexuality.
Once having laid down the law about
the nature of our sexuality, Freud not so strangely discovered a tremendous
problem of frigidity in women. His recommended cure for a woman who was frigid
was psychiatric care. She was suffering from failure to mentally adjust to her
"natural" role as a woman. Frank S. Caprio, a contemporary follower of these
...whenever a woman is incapable of
achieving an orgasm via coitus, provided the husband is an adequate partner, and
prefers clitoral stimulation to any other form of sexual activity, she can be
regarded as suffering from frigidity and requires psychiatric assistance.
The explanation given was that women
were envious of men - renunciation of womanhood. Thus it was diagnosed as an
It is important to emphasize that
Freud did not base his theory upon a study of woman's anatomy, but rather upon
his assumptions of woman as an inferior appendage to man, and her consequent
social and psychological role. In their attempts to deal with the ensuing
problem of mass frigidity, Freudians embarked on elaborate mental gymnastics.
Marie Bonaparte, in Female Sexuality, goes so far as to suggest surgery
to help women back on their rightful path. Having discovered a strange
connection between the non-frigid woman and the location of the clitoris near
the vagina it then occurred to me that where, in certain women, this gap was
excessive, and clitoral fixation obdurate, a clitoral-vaginal reconciliation
might be effected by surgical means, which would then benefit the normal sensual
function. Professor Halban, of Vienna, as much a biologist as surgeon, became
interested in the problem and worked out a simple operative technique. In this,
the suspensory ligament of the clitoris was severed and the clitoris secured to
the underlying structures, thus fixing it in a lower position, with eventual
reduction of the labia minora.
But the severest damage was not in
the area of surgery, where Freudians ran around absurdly trying to change female
anatomy to fit their basic assumptions. The worst damage was done to the mental
health of women, who either suffered silently with self-blame, or flocked to
psychiatrists looking desperately for the hidden and terrible repression that
had kept from them their vaginal destiny.
Lack of Evidence
One may perhaps at first claim that
these are unknown and unexplored areas, but upon closer examination this is
certainly not true today, nor was it true even in the past. For example, men
have known that women suffered from frigidity often during intercourse. So the
problem was there. Also, there is much specific evidence. Men knew that the
clitoris was and is the essential organ for masturbation, whether in children or
adult women. So obviously women made it clear where they thought their
sexuality was located. Men also seem suspiciously aware of the clitoral powers
during "foreplay," when they want to arouse women and produce the necessary
lubrication for penetration. Foreplay is a concept created for male purposes,
but works to the disadvantage of many women, since as soon as the woman is
aroused the man changes to vaginal stimulation, leaving her both aroused and
It has also been known that women
need no anesthesia inside the vagina during surgery, thus pointing to the fact
that the vagina is in fact not a highly sensitive area.
Today, with extensive knowledge of
anatomy, with Kelly, Kinsey, and Masters and Johnson, to mention just a few
sources, there is no ignorance on the subject. There are, however, social
reasons why this knowledge has not been popularized. We are living in a male
society which has not sought change in women's role.
Rather than starting with what women
ought to feel, it would seem logical to start out with the anatomical
facts regarding the clitoris and vagina.
The Clitoris is a small
equivalent of the penis, except for the fact that the urethra does not go
through it as in the man's penis. Its erection is similar to the male erection,
and the head of the clitoris has the same type of structure and function as the
head of the penis.
C. Lombard Kelly, in Sexual
Feeling in Married Men and Women, says:
The head of the clitoris is also
composed of erectile tissue, and it possesses a very sensitive epithelium or
surface covering, supplied with special nerve endings called genital corpuscles,
which are peculiarly adapted for sensory stimulation that under proper mental
conditions terminates in the sexual orgasm. No other part of the female
generative tract has such corpuscles.
The clitoris has no other function
than that of sexual pleasure.
The Vagina - Its functions are
related to, the reproductive function. Principally, 1) menstruation, 2) receive
penis, 3) hold semen, and 4) birth passage. The interior of the vagina, which
according to the defenders of the vaginally caused orgasm is the center and
producer of the orgasm, is:
Like nearly all other internal body
structures, poorly supplied with end organs of touch. The internal entodermal
origin of the lining of the vagina makes it similar in this respect to the
rectum and other parts of the digestive tract.
The degree of insensitivity inside
the vagina is so high that "Among the women who were tested in our gynecologic
sample, less than 14% were at all conscious that they had been touched."
Even the importance of the vagina as
an sensual center (as opposed to an orgasmic center) has been found to be
Other Areas - Labia minora and
the vestibule of the vagina. These two sensitive areas may trigger off a
clitoral orgasm. Because they can be effectively stimulated during "normal"
coitus, though infrequently, this kind of stimulation is incorrectly thought to
be vaginal orgasm. However, it is important to distinguish between areas which
can stimulate the clitoris, incapable of producing the orgasm themselves, and
Regardless of what means of
excitation is used to bring the individual to the state of sexual climax, the
sensation is perceived by the genital corpuscles and is localized where they are
situated: in the head of the clitoris or penis.
Psychologically Stimulated Orgasm
- Aside from the above mentioned direct and indirect stimulation of the
clitoris, there is a third way an orgasm may be triggered. This is through
mental (cortical) stimulation, where the imagination stimulates the brain, which
in turn stimulates the genital corpuscles of the glans to set off an orgasm.
Women Who Say They Have Vaginal
Confusion - Because of the
lack of knowledge of their own anatomy, some women accept the idea that an
orgasm felt during "normal" intercourse was vaginally caused. This confusion is
caused by a combination of two factors. One, failing to locate the center of the
orgasm, and two, by a desire to fit her experience to the male-defined idea of
sexual normalcy. Considering that women know little about their anatomy, it is
easy to be confused.
Deception - The vast majority
of women who pretend vaginal orgasm to their men are faking it to "get the job."
In a new bestselling Danish book, I Accuse, Mette Ejlersen specifically
deals with this common problem, which she calls the "sex comedy." This comedy
has many causes. First of all, the man brings a great deal of pressure to bear
on the woman, because he considers his ability as a lover at stake. So as not to
offend his ego, the woman will comply with the prescribed role and go through
simulated ecstasy. In some of the other Danish women mentioned, women who were
left frigid were turned off to sex, and pretended vaginal orgasm to hurry up the
sex act. Others admitted that they had faked vaginal orgasm to catch a man. In
one case, the woman pretended vaginal orgasm to get him to leave his first wife,
who admitted being vaginally frigid.
Later she was forced to continue the
deception, since obviously she couldn't tell him to stimulate her clitorally.
Many more women were simply afraid to
establish their right to equal enjoyment, seeing the sexual act as being
primarily for the man's benefit, and any pleasure that the woman got as an added
Other women, with just enough ego to
reject the man's idea that they needed psychiatric care, refused to admit their
frigidity. They wouldn't accept self-blame, but they didn't know how to solve
the problem, not knowing the physiological facts about themselves. So they were
left in a peculiar limbo.
Again, perhaps one of the most
infuriating and damaging results of this whole charade has been that women who
were perfectly healthy sexually were taught that they were not. So in addition
to being sexually deprived, these women were told to blame themselves when they
deserved no blame. Looking for a cure to a problem that has none can lead a
woman on an endless path of self-hatred and insecurity. For she is told by her
analyst that not even in her one role allowed in a male society-the role of a
woman-is she successful. She is put on the defensive, with phony data as
evidence that she'd better try to be even more feminine, think more feminine,
and reject her envy of men. That is, shuffle even harder, baby.
Why Men Maintain the Myth
1. Sexual Penetration Is Preferred
- The best physical stimulant for the penis is the woman's vagina. It
supplies the necessary friction and lubrication. From a strictly technical point
of view this position offers the best physical conditions, even though the man
may try other positions for variation.
2. The Invisible Woman - One
of the elements of male chauvinism is the refusal or inability to see women as
total, separate human beings. Rather, men have chosen to define women only in
terms of how they benefited men's lives. Sexually, a woman was not seen as an
individual wanting to share equally in the sexual act, any more than she was
seen as a person with independent desires when she did anything else in society.
Thus, it was easy to make up what was convenient about women; for on top of
that, society has been a function of male interests, and women were not
organized to form even a vocal opposition to the male experts.
3. The Penis as Epitome of
Masculinity - Men define their lives primarily in terms of masculinity. It
is a universal form of ego-boosting. That is, in every society, however
homogeneous (i.e., with the absence of racial, ethnic, or major economic
differences) there is always a group, women, to oppress.
The essence of male chauvinism is in
the psychological superiority men exercise over women. This kind of
superior-inferior definition of self, rather than positive definition based upon
one's own achievements and development, has of course chained victim and
oppressor both. But by far the most brutalized of the two is the victim.
An analogy is racism, where the white
racist compensates for his feelings of unworthiness by creating an image of the
black man (it is primarily a male struggle) as biologically inferior to him.
Because of his position in a white male power structure, the white man can
socially enforce this mythical division.
To the extent that men try to
rationalize and justify male superiority through physical differentiation,
masculinity may be symbolized by being the most muscular, the most hairy;
having the deepest voice, and the biggest penis. Women, on the other hand, are
approved of (i.e., called feminine) if they are weak, petite, shave their legs,
have high soft voices.
Since the clitoris is almost
identical to the penis, one finds a great deal of evidence of men in various
societies trying to either ignore the clitoris and emphasize the vagina (as did
Freud), or, as in some places in the Mideast, actually performing clitoridectomy.
Freud saw this ancient and still practiced custom as a way of further
"feminizing" the female by removing this cardinal vestige of her masculinity. It
should be noted also that a big clitoris is considered ugly and masculine. Some
cultures engage in the practice of pouring a chemical on the clitoris to make it
shrivel up into "proper" size.
It seems clear to me that men in fact
fear the clitoris as a threat to masculinity.
4. Sexually Expendable Male -
Men fear that they will become sexually expendable if the clitoris is
substituted for the vagina as the center of pleasure for women. Actually this
has a great deal of validity if one considers only the anatomy. The
position of the penis inside the vagina, while perfect for reproduction, does
not necessarily stimulate an orgasm in women because the clitoris is located
externally and higher up. Women must rely upon indirect stimulation in the
Lesbian sexuality could make an
excellent case, based upon anatomical data, for the irrelevancy of the male
organ. Albert Ellis says something to the effect that a man without a penis can
make a woman an excellent lover.
Considering that the vagina is very
desirable from a man's point of view, purely on physical grounds, one begins to
see the dilemma for men. And it forces us as well to discard many "physical"
arguments explaining why women go to bed with men. What is left, it seems to me,
are primarily psychological reasons why women select men at the exclusion of
women as sexual partners.
5. Control of Women - One
reason given to explain the Mid-eastern practice of clitoridectomy is that it
will keep the women from straying. By removing the sexual organ capable of
orgasm, it must be assumed that her sexual drive will diminish. Considering how
men look upon their women as property, particularly in very backward nations, we
should begin to consider a great deal more why it is not in menís interest to
have women totally free sexually. The double standard, as practiced for example
in Latin America, is set up to keep the woman as total property of the husband,
while he is free to have affairs as he wishes.
6. Lesbianism and Bisexuality
- Aside from the strictly anatomical reasons why women might equally seek other
women as lovers, there is a fear on men's part that women will seek the company
of other women on a full, human basis. The recognition of clitoral orgasm as
fact would threaten the heterosexual institution. For it would indicate
that sexual pleasure was obtainable from either men or women, thus making
heterosexuality not an absolute, but an option. It would thus open up the whole
question of human sexual relationships beyond the confines of the present
male-female role system.
The preceding thoughts are courtesy
of: Anne Koedt:
"The Myth of the Vaginal