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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Orgasm

February 20, 2012

Bonk” author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research, some of it centuries old, to make 10 surprising claims about sexual climax, ranging from the bizarre to the hilarious. (This talk is aimed at adults. Viewer discretion advised.)

Ted Talks are pretty amazing sometimes. I’ve only watched a handful of them here and there, and I had bookmarked this one in my “blog post leads” folder a while back for possible inclusion on Cuntlove.

I found it rather interesting. It’s not what I was expecting. I had assumed it would be a run down of ten things we didn’t know about the female orgasm for some reason, but even though it wasn’t what I had expected I really enjoyed listened to Mary Roach speak. She’s really fun to listen to.

If you’ve already watched the video, you’ll know what I’m referring to when I write about the “up-suck” phenomena. I took particular note of that part of the talk, because I’m reading a book right now called Decoding Love, which is a book that takes a look at love and attraction through the perspective of evolutionary biology, psychology, and sociology.

Although the author of Decoding Love, Andrew Trees, doesn’t use the term “up-suck” he does write about how the female orgasm was long believed to have no evolutionary or biological purpose, until it was discovered that female orgasm does in fact increase the potential of fertilization by “sucking up” semen through the cervix.

Evolutionary biology is a pretty interesting field, even if I’m not completely sold on the whole “men want to spread their seed far and wide” while “women want to guard their eggs for the best possible donor” thing. It seems reductive when excluding cultural implications, and just like Nazis misinterpreted Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest and perverted it to suit their racist ideals, there are douche bags out there that like to misinterpret Darwin’s theory of sexual selection to justify some pretty misogynistic behavior.

Biological imperatives exist, I just don’t like it when people fall back on them to excuse their behavior. If you want to have sex with as many people as you possibly can, that’s cool. You’ve got my support in your endeavour. Just don’t tell me it’s because you were wired that way. I’d much rather hear about how much you like sex and variety. That’s something I can wrap my mind around. Free will, baby, it exists for a reason. And with freedom comes responsibility. Do it. Own it. Love it.

Just a few thoughts…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2012 9:48 am

    I haven’t had the chance to watch the video yet, but I have so many issues with evolutionary biology. It seems to take certain biological processes and attach them to the most basic, stereotypical assumptions about human behaviour. I also find it’s often kinda misogynistic. It’s hard to say why, but it just seems to explain away certain things about women, class, and society in this really narrow, deterministic way.

    You know what the female orgasm is good for? Stress relief, blood flow, relieving headache, establishing a connection to her partner and strengthening their bond, the sheer awesomeness about what it is to be a woman and a human being. I think those are really useful reasons. Way more useful than the “up-suck”, which, by the way, most women do not orgasm from penetration alone. I’m not saying orgasm during sex isn’t useful and it may also create a fairly decent vacuum but if we try to believe it’s there to improve the chances of pregnancy? It lacks consistency for that theory. I also wonder if that guy had a lot of fakers in his life…

  2. February 21, 2012 7:48 pm

    Yeah! I’m sick to death of hearing about how the female orgasm “serves no evolutionary purpose”. I can tell you what it’s for without a million dollars in funding– it’s to discourage women from mating with selfish assholes.

  3. February 21, 2012 9:46 pm

    @L: You make a lot of good points. I agree that evolutionary biology is pretty narrow in its view and somewhat misogynistic, but there’s definitely something interesting to be learned from it. There’s an interesting part in the book, Decoding Love, about chimps and bonobos who happen to be our closest relatives in terms of DNA. With chimps power is used to resolve issues about sex, but with bonobos sex is used to resolve issues of power, which leads to two very different social orders. With chimps, males dominate and there’s a very strict hierarchy. There’s a great deal of violence in order to topple the head chimp who basically has “sexual” control of the female chimps.

    On the flip side, you’ve got bonobos where the females dominate. As a result, male aggression is greatly reduced and since the males don’t have to fight one and other for “sexual” power, they spend a lot less time fighting with each other to rise in the hierarchy. And if there is a dispute, it’s generally resolved with sex.

    The book is full of interesting little facts, like when two people have a conversation the timber of their voices tend to converge, but it’s always the lower-status person who makes the biggest change in an effort to meet the pitch of the higher-status person.

    Anyhow, back to the video. The “up-suck” theory was only one of the things she touched on in her talk, I just expanded on it with the whole evolutionary biology angle. One thing she mentioned that I found interesting is that sows (female pigs) have a clitoris that is located inside the vagina. There’s a clip in the video of sow insemination where the farmer (or whoever) kind of sexually stimulates a sow while he’s injecting semen in her vagina. It’s completely absurd.

    As for what you said about orgasm, I’m right with you there. There are many reasons for orgasms beyond the whole getting knocked up thing, and you put it really well.

    @Ladyyaga: Haha, good point. Actually, that’s one of the things that evolutionary biology mentions. Okay, so not in those words, but that on a subconscious level we choose partner that are better equipped (and I don’t mean penis size) to give us pleasure, because that’s an important evolutionary trait that we want to pass on in future generations and because they make better partners.

    I’m not saying, I’m a believer in all this. I’m just re-phrasing what I’ve been reading. Unfortunately, evolutionary biology is a field that is often dominated by a “white male” perspective, which influences the interpretations of the data. I would love to see different perspectives in this field of science.

  4. February 23, 2012 9:03 am

    Thanks, O! The facts you state are totally fascinating and you can get them from watching some David Attenborough narrated nature docs, without the heavy dose of pointless over-analyzing. Factual information and the spurious arguments gleaned from it are totally different things. I’ve yet to see an argument from an evolutionary biologist that didn’t make me roll my eyes or totally cringe.

    I totally need to watch this TED talk…

    Also, you’re awesome. 🙂

  5. February 23, 2012 7:58 pm

    It is now my mission in life to find an argument by an evolutionary biologist that won’t make you cringe! Haha, I love how we’ve had this entire convo and you haven’t watched the video yet.

    P.S. You’re awesome too!

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