Friday, 24 March 2017

Cosmopolitan's Orgasm Failure

Usually, Cosmo is the magazine to turn to for people, women especially, who have difficulty orgasming during sex.  An issue has not been printed that has not touched on (no pun intended) this subject.  One can only guess at how many trees have given their lives to be converted to paper in service to this great and noble cause.

But on March 22 2017, we get a bit of a cold shower courtesy of this gem from the appropriately named author Hannah Smothers:
Why Guys Get Turned on When You Orgasm — and Why That's a Bad Thing 
Of course guys manage to make YOUR orgasm about themselves.
Uh oh.  This can't be good.  
It's not enough that men are already having more orgasms than women. To make matters worse, a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research found — aside from deriving pleasure from their own orgasms, obviously — men also derive a specific sort of masculine pleasure from making female partners orgasm. The researchers in the study, Sara Chadwick and Sari van Anders, refer to this incredibly predictable phenomenon as a "masculinity achievement." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I imagine a "masculinity achievement" looks something like Super Mario punching a coin out of one of those floating boxes in the video game. 
Masculinity achievement?  This can only mean that oppressiveness and general shitlordery are just around the bend.  The abstract of the study in question states:
Orgasms have been promoted as symbols of sexual fulfillment for women, and have perhaps become the symbol of a woman’s healthy sex life. However, some research has suggested that this focus on women’s orgasms, though ostensibly for women, may actually serve men; but the mechanisms of this are unclear.
We should all know by now that gender relations are a zero sum game.  That anything that "serves men" is thereby harmful to women should go without saying, but I guess I just said it anyway, just in case you might have forgotten.

To be fair, Smothers writes in the Cosmo article that:
Let's be clear — there's nothing wrong with feeling good about making your partner feel good (in this case, orgasming). It's nice to bring pleasure to your partner! But the researchers point out a sexist flaw in the masculinity boost thing.
Nice to bring pleasure to your partner, unless that pleasure takes the form of the heterosexual male feeling competent as a lover and being a causal agent in his partner's pleasure.  The "sexist flaw" in question being stated a bit later in the study's abstract:
Despite increasing focus on women’s orgasms, research indicates that the increased attention to women’s orgasms may also serve men’s sexuality, complicating conceptualizations of women’s orgasms as women-centric.
Men may exercise sexual agency from pleasuring their female partners, and thereby feel more masculine and sexual themselves.  Oh noes!  The horrors!  Surely the only logical thing to come next is a repeal of the nineteenth amendment.  Or something.
For example, men have stated that a woman’s orgasm is one of their most sexually satisfying experiences, describing feelings of confidence and accomplishment in connection to female partner orgasm occurrence.  This could further demonstrate positive shifts in sexual discourse by evidencing men’s enthusiastic participation in women’s sexual pleasure, but research points to more self-interested motivations.
Better that this be so then that men be indifferent to the sexual pleasure of their partners, no?  Something tells me that we are not going to be seeing women's march protests on par with the anti-Trump marches against male enjoyment of woman's orgasm any time soon.  Well, not outside social media, anyway, where zero-sum feminist adversarialism vis-a-vis men in a sexual context is rule number one. What sort of "self interested motivations" do men go into sex with that we should be so concerned?  We are given an idea here:
For instance, heterosexual women have stated that, while they enjoy orgasms, their desire to experience orgasm mainly rests on a concern for their male partner’s feelings and perceptions as a good lover. Studies have also found that many women fake orgasms to please their male partners, highlighting that women sometimes prioritize their male partner’s ego over communicating their own sexual desires.
I am no sex therapist, but I would certainly not counsel any woman to not communicate her own sexual desires for fear of upsetting her partner, and would likewise suggest that men be made of stern enough stuff to be able to hear their female partners communications without getting too butthurt about it.  Nobody likes a fragile ego.  Sex is meant to be a mutual pleasure shared by both (or all, if that's what you're into) participants in the sexual act.  Being an active participant in sex implies that one be capable of inducing sexual pleasure in one's partner, and this being a source of one's own pleasure in the act.  In essence, that's what makes it worth participating in, what separates real sex from mere mutual masturbation.

And, not surprisingly, this is precisely what these obviously feminist articles and studies are framing as being "male-centric" and indicative of a masculine fragility that relies upon "giving" women orgasms in order to selfishly buttress their masculine identities - the dreaded "masculinity achievement."  Because, you know, sexual identity and confidence is a bad thing for heterosexual males.  Because rape culture, because male privilege, because patriarchy, because twitter, "Being Liberal" style Facebook and tumblr-esque feminist standoffishness.  Speaking of fragile egos.

Given that, we shouldn't be surprised to discover:
In addition, men have reported that they experience disappointment when their female partner does not orgasm, but state that they would be reluctant to induce a woman’s orgasm with a vibrator because of worries of their own personal inadequacy. 
Overall, it appears that men may be more concerned about their role in women’s pleasure than they are about women’s pleasure itself. Together, this seems to indicate that although sexuality discourse has shifted to promote women’s orgasms, it has not shifted from a male-centric perspective.
Confused?  Me too.
Any self respecting male's concern about his own role in women's pleasure is quite legitimate, if you ask me.  Otherwise, why even be there at all?  Women are quite capable of inducing their own orgasms with vibrators, just as men are quite capable of masturbating to orgasm by themselves and the vast majority of them do so frequently.

I would suggest that women ask themselves these questions: If your partner is not to have some degree of agency in your own sexual pleasure, why waste his time?  And if your partner does not himself derive some degree of satisfaction from said agency, how would you justify the use of another person as an instrument of your own sexual pleasure and nothing more?

The whole point of having sex, besides procreation, is mutual pleasure.  Both partners getting off on each other getting off, and becoming more aroused and thus more satisfied as a result.  Not in the sense of surrendering sexual agency and making another person responsible for your satisfaction and becoming dependent on them, but using sexual agency to share that enjoyment with another and achieve a kind or degree of satisfaction that neither one could achieve independently.  This is the essence of erotic intimacy.

Is this making the female orgasm about the male, at least in part?  You better believe it is, just as the male orgasm becomes, at least in part, about the female.  Sure, this has the potential to lead to problems, as with performance anxiety induced frigidity or impotency.  But these problems are not what is being objected to here.

This, folks, is what the feminists behind this study object to:
Empirically demonstrating a link between women’s orgasms and men’s masculinity also has important implications for conceptualizations of women’s sexual liberation, among others.
"Women's sexual liberation", as defined in this study and as conceived of in feminism in general, would appear to entail a nullification of male sexual agency.  This is a consistent theme in feminism, hence its disdain for male heterosexuality as is evidenced in popular feminist concepts such as the "male gaze" and sexual objectification.  Implicit even in the fat-positivity and body positivity movements are the notions that men are to have no minds of their own regarding what they find attractive.

Men are to be completely extraneous as far as female sexual pleasure and satisfaction are concerned, and if men are to be used in the sex lives of women, they are to derive minimal pleasure and enjoyment from either the act itself, or even of any competency in the giving of women pleasure through sex, lest it become a stigmatized "masculinity achievement" which is bad because reasons.

Is it any wonder that lack of libido is becoming a more prevalent problem?  Better some good anime and a jar of petroleum jelly than sex with "liberated women" if this is how we are to define liberated.

I have long suspected that women's liberation, in its present social media form, is more of a gender flipped version of male machismo; a fear of real intimacy hidden behind an exaggerated concern for gender identity.  This study and Ms. Smother's Cosmo article have confirmed this suspicion.

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