Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The history of the orgasm

I had lunch today with a group of three men. One of them was pitching a documentary on the history of the orgasm, the other two are film producers. I believe they included me in the mix to make it clear that any discussion about orgasm needed to include a woman's point of view. The man pitching this said he really didn't think it was necessary to bring in the politics of gender since his exploration would be scientific and historical. And I said, politely, that's where you are wrong.

Scientific information has been written and evaluated and analyzed from a male point of view. I pointed out that it wasn't too long ago that the medical establishment asserted that they could prove that a man's brain was bigger than a woman's brain. That therefore, women and minorities of both sexes had smaller brains, and thus we possessed the mental acuity of children and needed to be treated as such. Was this in the far distant past? No. It was about one hundred years ago.

History, a series of narratives, has also been written primarily from the male point of view. So to assume that both disciplines present an empirical and objective picture is not entirely true. Any serious study of the orgasm, male and female, should, I think, include the work of female researchers and scientists; such as Shere Hite and Natalie Angiers. Language itself I argued carries within it the potential for a gendered point of view, and must be dissected and parsed as well.

At one point, the movie producers, got out their camera and began taping the discussion. It got quite spirited, and to be honest, thoroughly enjoyable. No offense to the man who was pitching the documentary, but women have had quite enough of discussion of our sexuality from the point of view of the hierarchy. Listen: everyone can join in the fun. That's the beauty of yin and yang.

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