What is the Religious Reason for Gender Differences in Orgasmic Tendency and Ability?

October 1, 2004 | 70 comments
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We believe that we were created by God, in His image (or the image of Heavenly Mother, for women). And we believe that our physical bodies are an important part of our eternal progress, a part that will be with us for eternity. As pointed out in an earlier thread, we have strong religious reasons to believe in the sacred nature of our bodies as created. The significance of bodies raises an interesting question: What is the religious reason for the gendered differences in ability to experience orgasm?

Differences in Orgasm Ability

We’ll need a brief descriptive section here, to lay out exactly what I’m talking about. A warning — I’m not going to try to be overly prurient, but I’m also going to be as frank as I think is necessary to establish these points. Also, a caveat — I’m not a sexologist. I’ll be drawing somewhat from my own observations, experience, and reading. Please feel free to point out errors on my part. This is not my area of expertise. (Stop laughing, guys).

So, what are the relevant differences? There are two basic, major differences between male and female sexual experience.

The first is that it is substantially easier for men to experience an orgasm. In fact, it’s remarkably easy for most men (particularly at young adulthood) to experience orgasm. It happens every time a man ejaculates. Unless sex ends prior to ejaculation, it always has a “payoff” for men.

This is not the case for women. Women have differing ability to experience orgasm, but that orgasm does _not_ necessarily occur every time that a woman has sex. In fact, I’ve heard secondhand about women who have been married for years, borne several children, and never had an orgasm. Female orgasm requires more work than male orgasm. Men can enjoy sex that is essentially “thrust, thrust, ejaculate” — the proverbial “quickie.” Many women cannot. Female orgasm requires some amount of clitoral stimulation that simple vaginal sex may or may not provide for a particular woman. In particular, quick sex with little or no foreplay is unlikely to allow the woman to have an orgasm.

The second major difference is that, once aroused, women are able to experience multiple orgasms in relatively quick succession, which is generally not possible for men.

These sexual differences (principally the first) have, throughout history, resulted in a massive imbalance, along gender lines, in the production of sexual pleasure. Female orgasm has not been widely emphasized until recent times. (Indeed, in the majority of the world it is still devalued, and in Africa it’s considered a bad enough thing that forced clitoral removal is the norm).

That is, for most of the thousands of years of the world’s history, male orgasms have been commonplace and female orgasms have been happy accidents or the province of libertines and lesbians. Men have enjoyed their ability to have sex with women and achieve orgasm, and women have been passive participants in the process, forced to tolerate the fact that their bodies were being used to provide pleasure to men, but seldom receiving pleasure themselves.

Naturalistic Explanation

If one accepts a naturalistic explanation of gender differences, this might make sense. After all, it is not necessary, for gene propagation, that both genders enjoy sex equally. It is only necessary that the stronger gender enjoy sex, and members of that gender will then force sex on the members of the weaker gender because they (the stronger gender) enjoy the process.

Spiritual or Religious Explanation

But as church members, we don’t generally subscribe to the naturalistic model for why gender differences exist. So the question which we face is this: Why did God create these differences in the ability to experience orgasm? Why does God apparently want men to be able to more easily enjoy sex than women?

I don’t have an answer to this. It seems that there are several possible responses to this. I’ll go over a few that come to mind. But I find them all somewhat unsatisfying, and I hope that this discussion can perhaps point me in the direction of a better answer to the question:

1. One possible response is that the question is inappropriate and not deserving of either scrutiny or answer. This position is that people shouldn’t worry about orgasm at all. Sex is to be used for procreation; any pleasure is a mere side effect.

I don’t think that this position is consistent with some (recent-ish) church teachings and discussions, which indicate that sex can be a spiritual experience that can draw a married couple closer together.

2. A second possible response is that women are simply not meant to have as many orgasms as men. There are many possible reasons for this. One possible conceptual reason is that, if women were able to easily achieve orgasm, they might be more tempted to have sex outside of marriage. (That reason doesn’t answer the question of why men are able to easily have orgasms, however). (That is a reason given in Africa for female clitoral removal).

2a. An important possible variation of response number 2 goes along these lines: Women aren’t meant to have orgasms, and modern encouragement of female orgasm is wrong. Female orgasms are an abomination, and (perhaps) are causing the downfall of society. The prior model of male enjoyment and female toleration has worked well for thousands of years, this response would assert. Why try to change it? [*redacted text] We need to tell women to lie down, tolerate a few minutes of sex, and not worry about whether or not they’re getting pleasure from it. Increased emphasis on female orgasm and female ability to enjoy sex is correlated with increased divorce, promiscuity, feminism, and homosexuality.

I disagree with that response, but it is a conceptually coherent statement. The idea that society should return to the sexual mores of centuries past suggests that the female orgasm should be deemphasized or delegitimized.

3. A response that appeals to a progressive or liberal mind might go along these lines: Perhaps the differences are a God-created incentive to force couples (in particular men) to work harder at communicating and strengthening the sexual aspects of their relationship. This response resonates with me. I do believe that as women become more aware of their ability to enjoy sex (and more demanding of their husband) that better marital communication can be the result. And I do believe, as Russell suggested previously, that sex can be about more than simply gratifying one’s own desires, and that when it is about more than personal gratification, it becomes more meaningful.

That said, a progressive ideal of gender differences in orgasm as a prod to foster marital communication seems incredibly out of touch with the reality of history. If it was indeed intended as a prod, it has failed miserably throughout most of human history. Why would God choose to create such an ineffectual prod, resulting in the sexual misery of women for thousands of years, just to benefit a few lucky women who happen to be born at more enlightened places and times?

Those are my initial responses, and I don’t find any of them very satisfactory. I’m at a loss here. As Mormons, we value our bodies highly. We believe that they play a vital role in the Plan of Salvation, and that they will be part of our eternal existence. I think that our theology all but demands a God-given reason for the gender differences in orgasm ability. But I’m at a loss as to what that reason might be. Ideas, anyone?

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70 Responses to What is the Religious Reason for Gender Differences in Orgasmic Tendency and Ability?

  1. Russell Arben Fox on October 1, 2004 at 11:18 am

    Hmm. Obviously, my post on sex just wasn’t enough.

  2. D. Fletcher on October 1, 2004 at 11:19 am

    One piece of information that I think is missing from your missive is the fact that orgasms for men and women are identical, physiologically speaking. Both experience the same symptoms of pleasure in body and brain. (I’m not a physician, but I have done research in this field!)

    I think the difference may be found in the biological imperative of the sexes. Though humans may simply feel horny or not, there is an underlying genetic/evolutionary need. Men have many millions of sperm, and their imperative is to get it out there, as much as possible (or as often as possible), in the hopes that some number of these will generate into adulthood. For men, quantity is all, and this is the case with orgasms, as well. Women, on the other hand, can only generate a maximum total of about 20 babies, one a year for each year of adulthood, so they must be selective in choosing partners. Women are all about quality, and this plays into the orgasmic experience — women may use as one criterion for judging men, the quality of the orgasm they get from the man in question.

  3. Matt Evans on October 1, 2004 at 11:22 am

    I think naturalistic arguments are strongest here. Otherwise, it would seem we should be trying to discern some divine purpose in blacks’ susceptibility to sickle-cell anemia, or the fact that white people sunburn, or that more males die in infancy. Etc.

  4. Kaimi on October 1, 2004 at 11:30 am

    Matt,

    We don’t believe that race is an eternal characteristic in the way that we believe gender to be.

    The Proclamation states that:

    All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

    We believe that the fact that women, not men, give borth to children has some eternal significance, right? Or is that merely naturalistic as well?

    I don’t think it’s so easy to dismiss this difference as naturalistic.

  5. D. Fletcher on October 1, 2004 at 11:40 am

    Although I think it’s a bit of cop-out, if one has scientific understanding as well as religious belief, one invariably must suggest that God created the whole world, biology intact. God created men and women through the process of evolution, and as such, the religious significance of the gender is not so different from the biological significance.

  6. Kaimi on October 1, 2004 at 11:42 am

    Matt,

    Just to be clear about how incongruous your acceptance of naturalistic causes seems, you’re positing:

    A God who personally chose one gender over the other for childbearing. A God who, we are told by our prophets, has imbued each gender with different emotional characteristics. A God who believes that gender is eternal. A God who has enacted a number of sexual rules which vary by gender (such as polygamy). A God who seems to take an intense interest in human sexuality; one of whose early commandments was circumcision. A God whose prophets tell us that the human sex drive is a sacred force, designed by God. A God who is fully aware that the sex drive can lead to sin, and who knows that the sex drive derives from sexual pleasure. A God who seems highly unlikely to have left much to chance.

    But who, when addressing the very important issue of sexual pleasure, decided to simply let the chips lie where they fall, as determined by naturalistic needs of gene propagation.

    Do you still think that that’s consistent?

  7. Rob on October 1, 2004 at 11:46 am

    Do you think Brigham Young was providing clitoral stimulation to his wives?

    Thanks for that imagery, Kaimi

  8. John H on October 1, 2004 at 11:56 am

    Kaimi:

    I think the answer could be a combination of a few different ideas. First, as some have pointed out, from a purely biological perspective, I understand that men are not really designed to be monogamous. (Note that I’m not advocating this, and from a cultural, spiritual, and emotional perspective, men can and *should* be monogamous.) They are designed to get their seed out there and get women to reproduce. An easy orgasm may be nature’s way of encouraging men to do this.

    Second, it may be a function of the different genders’ emotional needs. Because male and female needs are different, it could be that they experience orgasm differently as a reflection of what those needs are. Women need closeness, bonding, etc. generally more than men, so taking time, foreplay, etc., help facilitate pleasure during sex.

    Third, and I think this is perhaps the best argument, is that cultures have literally changed our orgasmic responses. I saw a study in Time magazine a few years ago that argued women are actually getting their monarch (first period) earlier and earlier. Biology is actually changing in response to our culture that allows even 10 and 11 year old girls to dress like Britany Spears and act slutty.

    I think you could also argue that biology changed as female orgasms became less acceptable and male orgasms became acceptable and encouraged. In fact, I think many married women will tell you that having an orgasm at first was extremely difficult, but that it became much easier with time. Part of this is because they get to know their body, something they are not encouraged to do, unlike young men who have ample opportunity to explore their own genitals. But another part may be that they become more comfortable and open to the possibility of orgasm, and as a result it comes much more naturally.

    I do think until very recently, the Church has inadvertently discouraged female orgasm. Something like 40% of women *cannot* achieve orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone – they need additional clitoral stimuli. Pretty much all of this was discouraged by the Church (masturbation, although not specifically discouraged among married couples during sex, has such negative connotations that women probably are wary of trying it, even with their husband present). We’ve all seen the letter from the First Presidency in 1981 on oral sex (though since it was only sent to bishops and they were then encouraged not to talk about it with the members of their ward, one can wonder how binding the letter is on the general membership). I don’t think a statement has been made forbidding the use of sex toys, but I suspect many members would be hesitant to use them, believing that falls under the “unnatural” part of sex that Church leaders have discouraged.

    So women in the Church have probably felt restricted in what they could do to achieve an orgasm. I’m glad this appears to be changing more.

  9. D. Fletcher on October 1, 2004 at 11:58 am

    It doesn’t seem inconsistent to me to believe in a God who chose women to have less orgasms, as well as a God who allows hermaphrodites to be born. I don’t believe that the “genders” as the rendered here on earth are so eternal as the Proclamation would have one believe. Though I recognize this as an alternative viewpoint.

  10. CB on October 1, 2004 at 12:00 pm

    (blinks rapidly)

    Wow. You don’t see a post with a heading like that every day.

    Kaimi, is it possible that the female ability for multiple orgasm offsets, to some extent, the male ability for rapid orgasm? Maybe the imbalance is not a great as you imply.

  11. a random John on October 1, 2004 at 12:10 pm

    Kaimi,

    You say, “We don’t believe that race is an eternal characteristic in the way that we believe gender to be.” This is off-topic, but what aspects of race are not eternal? What race will we be eternally?

  12. Scott on October 1, 2004 at 12:12 pm

    John- hate to do this, but-
    Monarch is a butterfly,
    Menarche is the onset of first menstration.

  13. Matt Evans on October 1, 2004 at 12:24 pm

    Kaimi,

    I think many of our gender differences (and other differences, both group and individual) do not have a divine purpose. Child bearing and rearing are two gender differences the prophets have said are distinct, but I think it wrong to infer that therefore every gender difference results from design. Males are more likely to die as babies, less likely to live past 90, more likely to be mentally retarded, and are taller. I’m sure there are many more biological gender differences, including our susceptibility to some diseases and cancers. Trying to figure out why God wants more men than women to be mentally retarded, or why he wants more women to have osteoperosis, is, it seems to me, an exercise in futility.

    John H.,

    I believe the prevailing theory on girls’ early menstration ascribes the change to modern diets, especially the increased intake of vitamins and minerals, and not to social cues like Britney Spears’ wardrobe.

  14. danithew on October 1, 2004 at 12:28 pm

    The massive “orgasmic” headline on this post was deliberately designed to make it difficult for me to access this blog from work. :)

    I’m imagining my supervisor comes into the office, looks over my shoulder and asks: “what are you reading?!”

    I’m sure she’d understand if I explain a little …

  15. Rosalynde Welch on October 1, 2004 at 12:46 pm

    Well, as the first female contributor, let me suggest something radical (at least to contemporary Eve-recuperators): difficulty in orgasm, together with pain and danger in childbirth, physical weakness, and an abiding cultural prejudice against women, could be results of Eve’s disobedience in the garden. This would have been the commonsense answer to msot Christians for centuries, but I realize it will probably upset quite a few in this day and age.

    First, let me be clear about something: I realize that Eve’s choice has been the justification for millennia of oppression against women in the judeo-christian world, and as a good liberal feminist it makes me a little queasy to accept a premise that has led to such evil. But the premise need not lead inevitably to the evil result: that Eve made a wrong choice need only condemn all women (and justify their oppression) if one accepts a thorough-going gender essentialism (all women are fundmanetally alike in all ways), which I reject. Since the Proclamation (and, it must be admitted, since becoming a wife and a mother myself), I’ve made my peace with the fact that certain characteristics and roles pertain to females (though I reject cliches about women being naturally more nurturing, which, significantly, are not in the Proclamation). I respect and admire Mother Eve for all that she was, but I do not see her as a normative mirror of myself, except for certain ritual purposes in the temple.

    That said, I’ve never bought the rehabilitation of Eve (ie that Eve’s choice in the garden was a heroic act of moral courage and a far-sighted victory for humanity) that Beverly Campbell developed and Sheri Dew popularized. As much as I recognize the impulse behind the re-reading (to encourage and validate women spiritually) and would love to accept the Eve that emerges, it seems to make moral nonsense of the garden story. I don’t believe that Eve eating the fruit at that moment *was* the only way temporality could get rolling; I think that if they had waited and been obedient, God would have ushered the fall in somewhat more gently. And I like to think that much of the misery of gender relations might have been somewhat abated. Do I blame Eve? No. Do I think God wants gender relations to be the way they are now for eternity? No. Will resurrected female bodies be different? I think so.

  16. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 12:47 pm

    Off topic, but, for the record or for the next time Matt and Adam are making lists of who’s liberal and who’s nice-even though by many measures I am the most liberal person around here, I am blushing furiously just reading this!

  17. Logan on October 1, 2004 at 12:54 pm

    As Matt said, I’m not so sure that because something is a certain way God necessarily thinks it’s the best ideal way for it to be.

    I’m not sure what an accepted feminist way of looking at this is, but one possible feminist point of view might say that the imbalances in sexual response, instead of causing women to have become passive participants, may have been caused by being forced to be those passive participants. Surely there are psychological aspects of sexual response, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that gender roles and other aspects of male dominated society throughout history may well have lingered and influenced the current state of sexual imbalance.

    Women seem to have become progressively more empowered to enjoy their sexual experiences. Some women are even able to have satisfying “quickies”. Perhaps the further removed we become from oppressive sexual imbalances (even into the eternities, maybe) women will be better able to experience sex fully.

    On the other hand, maybe not. What do I know about feminist theories, anyway? It’s just a thought.

    Another thought, though, is that the way you seem to equate ‘orgasm’ with ‘enjoying sex’ may not be the best way to think about it. Women in particular often have different levels of intensity in experiencing sexual pleasure, so pinning down exactly what an orgasm is can be difficult. I’m not sure there’s a one to one correspondence, either. I’m pretty sure my wife has had individual orgasms that I could only dream about, even though I may have them more often. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it does seem to make the issue more complicated.

  18. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 1:24 pm

    Logan has a point here.

    Another thought, though, is that the way you seem to equate ‘orgasm’ with ‘enjoying sex’ may not be the best way to think about it. Women in particular often have different levels of intensity in experiencing sexual pleasure, so pinning down exactly what an orgasm is can be difficult.

    The relative ease with which men experience orgasm sets up the ‘orgasm = enjoying sex’ association in the male mind. However, this has its definite drawbacks. Note that women are able to participate in, and thus perhaps derive enjoyment from, sexual intercourse no matter what the state of her arousal. Men, however, are under performance pressure — no arousal = no intercourse. If you situate all of the pleasure of sex solely in the physical sensation experienced through the genitals, you’re bound to have some unhappy times.

    You’re also bound to have some tacky commercials on tv during sporting events as well, I should add.

  19. danithew on October 1, 2004 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for reminding me Bryce. A big LOL for Bob Dole and the little blue pill.

  20. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 2:08 pm

    Rosalynde, Beverly Campbell’s version of Eve has always made me want to throw things, though I’ve never managed to articulate the reasons. I think what bothers me most about it is the implication that the Victorian model of gender relations (which is always justified by an appeal to the curse in Genesis) is what God intended all along. If Eve’s transgression was actually not so wrong, then the curse must not have been so bad, and the status quo can be taken to reflect God’s plan.

    I like your reading *much* better!

  21. Mark B on October 1, 2004 at 2:12 pm

    Two asides:

    It’s interesting that the overwhelming majority of comments on this topic are from men. Is that because the women (1) are like Kristine, blushing furiously and unable to type, or (2) don’t really care about orgasms or (3) don’t want to give personal testimonials or (4) are all adherents of the “the more you talk, the less you get” school?

    And, so long as you’re on the subject of the doctrinal basis for certain differences between the sexes (we are sexes, not genders–gender is a grammatical construct (see das Maedchen) which has been taken over by people who are afraid to say “sex”), perhaps you could venture into menstruation, and throw in a lot of tacky commercials during non-football moments.

  22. lyle on October 1, 2004 at 2:13 pm

    um, perhaps kaimi’s first suggestion is best. isn’t the current ‘counsel’ basically: marital relations are to be decided ‘between spouses’? one can speculate lots, but…where does it get us? talking about how men are “naturally” inclined towards being scumbags/indifferent to women due to evolutionary impulses? So much for the emphasis on men as righteous fathers rearing children…

  23. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 2:27 pm

    Mark B.

    I think the lack of female voices on this topic reflects a general imbalance in the Times and Seasons community, which is in itself an interesting topic worth exploring, but probably not here.

    As for other reasons for the male domination of this thread, I am inclined to believe that there are some women reading this and laughing hysterically (oops, wrong word) make that laughing uncontrollably at a bunch of men trying to understand how they experience sexuality.

  24. John H on October 1, 2004 at 2:30 pm

    Not to put Kris on the spot, but I’m curious, why are you blushing? Or was that more a humorous comment for our benefit?

    I’m wondering if the blushing-factor can also help answer the question – if women are embarrassed to talk about it, does it affect their experience? We certainly don’t talk about it much in the Church, which we try and defend because it’s “sacred” and “personal” but I suspect it’s really because we’re all wary and embarrassed.

  25. Steve Evans on October 1, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    She’s not the only one blushing.

  26. John H on October 1, 2004 at 2:53 pm

    Ok, Steve’s blushing too.

    I guess that makes Kaimi, D., and myself the official pervs of T&S :)

  27. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 3:33 pm

    I think I’m just blushing because the discussion feels out of context. If y’all were old friends sitting around in my living room it would seem less strange, I think. But I’m sure there’s just some old-fashioned shame and prudishness involved, too–I don’t think I heard the word “orgasm” pronounced until I was in college, and I think one’s general comfort level around such discussions is largely established by family mores.

    All of which is not to say that I don’t think it’s a perfectly legitimate and interesting discussion!

  28. clark on October 1, 2004 at 4:11 pm

    Let me second D. Fletcher’s comments (way back and apparently overlooked) If God, as all evidence suggests, uses evolution to develop our system and that development entails a lot of free will and chance, then I don’t think it necessarily follows that the way women orgasm was planned by God.

    Further one can’t neglect the social pressures on women and orgasms imposed just the last 10,000 years.

    I’d also so that if you do the work, women seem to get a lot more out of sex than men do.

  29. Ashleigh on October 1, 2004 at 4:15 pm

    Dang, I won’t have time to follow this thread today, but thanks Kaimi for starting it. I’ll look forward to all the ideas that spew forth.

  30. Ashleigh on October 1, 2004 at 4:45 pm

    Oh, I can’t resist this even though I really need to do real work.

    Mark, I think there are a lot more possibilities than you listed for why women aren’t participating, including that there are always less women at T&S.

    On To Rosalyndes point:
    Okay, so I’m not all that bright, and I’m not a biblical scholar or a Mormon theologian (sp?) or anything, but we don’t believe in original sin do we? Isn’t the belief that all women are being punished for Eve’s transgression tied to the idea of original sin? (quick my ignorance is showing, cover me) What am I missing here?

  31. Me on October 1, 2004 at 5:13 pm

    “We’ve all seen the letter from the First Presidency in 1981 on oral sex”

    Does anyone have a link to this letter? I’ve never heard of it, let alone seen it. I’m curious as to what it says, tone, etc. Any info would be appreciated.

  32. a woman on October 1, 2004 at 5:24 pm

    I’m a woman and with a vibrator I can hit orgasm in under ten minutes. Vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick. It’s pleasurable but it doesn’ t hit orgasm because my vagina is not lined with erectile tissue…but my clitoris is my little penis so if I’m going to have an orgasm, my friend of friends is a vibrator. And oh yeah, I can have multiples if I haven’t had an orgasm in a few days.

    Men making women feel that they must not be very sexual if they don’t have an orgasm during regular vaginal intercourse is just men being selfish and ignorant.

    It’s a man’s world not because God made it that way but because men made it that way and women let them get away with it.

  33. Austin Frost on October 1, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Would you like it if a hairy beast of a man was all up in your kitchen? The reasons are neither religious or biological: they’re purely aesthetic! :)

  34. Rosalynde Welch on October 1, 2004 at 8:08 pm

    Ashleigh–
    You’re right, we believe that men and women will be punished for their own sins, and not for our first parents’ transgressions–so women won’t be held morally accountable (guilty) for Eve’s disobedience. But the Fall still had real consequences in the world–and the embodiedness (is this a word?) of Mormon theology might suggest that these consequences are more literal than other theologies allow–including, we’re told in the Old Testament and the temple, physical changes in the body and social changes between the sexes, as well as other unfortunate features of mortality. I’m simply speculating that a bundle of characteristics relating to reproduction and sex might have been affected by the Fall.

  35. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2004 at 8:15 pm

    Matt–

    The correlation between sickle cell and protection from malaria might in fact suggest a divine purpose. I’ll resist the urge to comment on why more males than females are mentally retarded.

    Rosalynde and Kristine– First, let me say that the *original* formulation of Campbell’s thesis (from the talk and article) is radically different from the book. The book irritated me to no end; I found the article useful. That said, I disagree with both of you. First, Kristine, there is no curse. The serpent is cursed. Adam and Eve are told the consequences of their actions. In Eve’s case, I prefer to read the consequences as the divine version of What to Expect When You Are Expecting. (Imagine poor Eve going into labor the first time with no one around but poor dear sweet bumbling Adam.) Far from being a curse, it is a blessing–a heads up on what is to come.

    Rosalynde–you have already talked about your decision/conclusion/simple fact that you don’t do a lot of ‘likening’ of the scriptures to yourself. I’m not going to quibble with that here (wouldn’t want to unnecessarily distract from all of this talk of sex!), but I still disagree with your reading of Eve. The ‘rehabilitation’ could perhaps be handled better than it has by Dew and Campbell, but I think it is still a legitimate enterprise.

    Kaimi–

    I’ve got another theory for you. Circumcision. When we were expecting our first boy, part of our reasoning in deciding *not* to circumsice him was that (according to what we read) uncircumsiced males are slower to orgasm, giving them more parity with women. Perhaps we are trying to make a theological case out of something that is the result of a human decision.

  36. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2004 at 8:16 pm

    I must have accidentally hit ‘Make Comment’ twice. The message I got: “You can only post once every ten seconds. Slow down, cowboy.”

    Now I’m really blushing.

  37. Bartholemew and the Oo-blech on October 1, 2004 at 8:31 pm

    Kaimi, how do you know how common female orgasm has been in history?
    What in the world does history have to do with it, anyway?
    Sure, Christians have been lame. Christians are a very small minority in world history. The peculiarly Christian brand of sexism luckily seems to be dying out. What sort of record do you have of attitudes toward male versus female orgasm do you have from, say, Egypt or China? Who says men have always been predominantly selfish about sex?

    If they have been selfish, though, maybe God had to ratchet up their response because otherwise most of them would just go race monster trucks and never take any interest in women. Now at least they stop racing monster trucks long enough to engender a child on occasion.

    A woman, on the other hand, has more pressing issues on which to base her choice of when to have sex and with whom, than mere pleasure. She’s the one who carries the child.

  38. Bartholemew and the Oo-blech on October 1, 2004 at 8:38 pm

    The disparity in consequences might do a bit to explain the disparity in the event. Maybe a woman is better off, first, not having much in the way of superficial (so to speak) incentives to have sex, and maybe she is better off having sex with a man who cares enough to pay attention to her desires.

  39. Knute Kritt on October 1, 2004 at 9:09 pm

    In my experience, a well-lived temple marriage can bring an aura of sacrifice into the physical relationship. “What feels good to you honey?”
    If I want him to feel really good,then I will do my G muscle excercises, until he can penetrate and just “hold the pose” while I do the work…in that way he will learn what to do and how….good men are women pleasers…frustration happens to newly wed couples, which is sometimes never acknowledged or overcome, because they fail to get information…the how to’s…this is sad…there is so much more to female orgasm than clitoral stimulation…Heavenly Father has endowed men with the most exotic NATURAL abilities, but men must be liberated and nurtured, CAREFULLY in order to realize sexual potential that is heightened via the Spirit of the Lord…That Spirit can not work through a Man or Woman when selfishness is a prime motive…medically speaking, there is much that a couple can learn…little of which I have seen in the comments afore mentioned, that will enhance this ultimate of expressions in a pure and appropriate manner..I think Heavenly Father is highly pleased when both his sons and daughters enjoy physical intimacy…And how do you suppose that THINGS will happen in the Celestial Kingdom, (you know, up on the top floor?) :)

  40. embarassed to use my own name on October 1, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    “We’ve all seen the letter from the First Presidency in 1981 on oral sex�

    Does anyone have a link to this letter? I’ve never heard of it, let alone seen it. I’m curious as to what it says, tone, etc. Any info would be appreciated.

    At a time when the operative members of the First Presidency were not in good health, a memorandum was issued and then, interestingly enough, recalled.

    This is the one referred to.

    I’ll leave that for my comment. A number of people have had a number of theories about that entire process, but speculation doesn’t lead that far.

    And I thought we were going to discuss what it takes for men to have multiple orgasms, for women to reach third stage orgasms and other interesting topics that generally don’t get reached in Sunday School.

    Multiple orgasms for men generally require too much work, many women who report not having orgasms are physically showing all the signs of one (and can be taught to recognize and then feel the fact that they are having one) and in a good relationship the woman will have more orgasms than the man. Ideally, at least 50% of the time one is offered charity sex one’s wife should end up with multiple hard orgasms. It does make them a bit more charitable.

    I’ve got to go blush off-screen now.

  41. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 9:17 pm

    At the risk of going even farther off the ostensibly enlightening track, the comment #32 by a woman makes me recall the history of vibrators in the United States. Near the turn of the century, female sexual desire was taken to be a symptom of hysteria, to be treated medically by the male gynecological establishment. The standard treatment was to have the doctor manually stimulate the woman until she was relieved. It was viewed as a purely medical procedure (according to most accounts, wink wink).

    While this was profitable for the gynecologists, it was also very tedious, and with the rise of the machine age, they soon found mechanical means of speeding up the process, or at least taking some of the manual labor out of it. The earliest vibrators were medical devices used only in doctors’ offices. They were not terribly portable, but they did work.

    With the spread of electricity, small, portable, affordable electric vibrators became available. As a result, their use moved out of the clinic into the home. Along with this privatization came a change in social attitude towards the vibrator.

    The things one learns playing College Bowl.

    You can get independent confirmation of this history by googling for “vibrator history,” but you probably want to stick to URLs ending in “.edu” :)

    And I always thought it was “oobleck”, not “ooblech”.

  42. Jeremy on October 1, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    So, when to expect the mormon sex blog spinoff–and will it have an RSS feed?

  43. Kaimi on October 1, 2004 at 9:53 pm

    Eeep — now the comments are starting to make _me_ blush. Let’s keep things PG-13 rated, folks. I know we’re talking about sex, but we’re also a family blog.

    Thanks!

  44. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 9:57 pm

    Julie, I’ve read the original article. Still don’t like it. And I think it’s splitting hairs to say that the serpent (and the “ground”) gets cursed, but Adam and Eve just get a description. Clearly, some aspects of their mortal life are connected to the fact that they have transgressed, and can be read as punishment for that transgression, if the story is to have any moral weight at all. If you entirely disconnect the notion of punishment from the “consequences” described to Adam and Eve, it becomes a very strange story indeed.
    Moreover, it’s possible to read “all men will be punished for their own sins” as relegating the Genesis account to the status of a nice tale with virtually no consequences for our current situation, but I think the temple ritual suggests that we should do otherwise. Something went wrong in the garden that we are supposed to pay attention to.

  45. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 10:08 pm

    Any links or coordinates for this “article” so the rest of us can join the discussion? Just wondering

  46. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 10:10 pm

    Please disregard the unnecessary quotation marks in my previous comment.

    /pet peeve

  47. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2004 at 10:16 pm

    Bryce–

    I’ve never been able to find the article online. Ben S., do you know?

  48. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2004 at 10:21 pm

    Kristine–

    I’ve never gotten into this conversation without it (appropriately) shutting down sooner or later over what we might say about the Temple.

    Maybe someday we can foist all the kids on our husbands, go to the Temple together, and settle this properly (grin).

  49. Rosalynde Welch on October 1, 2004 at 10:28 pm

    Julie– Just to add that you’re definitely in good company in your defense of Eve. My mother is an amazing gospel scholar, and we agree on most things, but we just don’t see eye to eye on the Garden stories. Count me in on the temple trip!

  50. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 10:33 pm

    “settle this properly”

    I don’t know–I’ve never seen anybody arm-wrestling in the celestial room before. I don’t think it’s allowed…

  51. Kaimi on October 1, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    Is there an Arnold Friberg picture of Nephi armwrestling? Or perhaps Ammon?

  52. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    One more irreverent comment — here it is, a Friday evening, and a whole bunch of us are online posting in a thread about orgasms.

    I’m spending too much time online.

    /to be fair, my wife is sick and went to bed at 8:30.

  53. Kristine on October 1, 2004 at 10:42 pm

    Oh, sure, Bryce. Did she have a “headache”?

    :) (do I get bonus points for combining your pet peeve with a potentially offensive attempt at humor?)

  54. Bryce I on October 1, 2004 at 10:52 pm

    Huh, Kristine, how did you know? Funny how it always happens on Friday nights …

    /no bonus points for reasonable use of quotes

  55. Kaimi on October 1, 2004 at 10:53 pm

    Julie writes:

    Circumcision [causes the difference] . . . Perhaps we are trying to make a theological case out of something that is the result of a human decision.

    Um, so your suggestion is that it’s not necessarily that God wants men and women to have different sexual experiences, and maybe it all just boils down to whoever decided to start this whole circumcision trend?

    Am I the only one who thinks that statement isn’t entirely internally consistent?

  56. Bartholemew and the Oo-blech on October 1, 2004 at 11:28 pm

    Death entered the world as a result of what happened in the Garden. I think it’s fair to say our lives are dramatically impacted by it.

    As for original sin, Christ atoned for it, so we believe in it (Moses 6:54). We just don’t believe we’ll be punished for it — but we aren’t punished for our own sins, either, in this life, at least not consistently, so I don’t think the article of faith implies there is no impact on our lives from the transgression in the Garden. Seems to me the punishment it refers to is primarily a matter of what happens at the final judgment.

  57. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2004 at 11:42 pm

    Kaimi–

    I’m not talking about the OT circumcision, which, as I understand it, was much less severe than the 20th century kind. (Someone correct me here.)

    If I understand correctly, modern circumcision is an early 20th century phenomenon tied to the belief that it would prevent masturbation.

  58. Jack on October 2, 2004 at 12:19 am

    I wish the subthread going on between the women on this thread were a thread of its own. Great stuff! Maybe Kristine or Julie can start a new thread about Eve.

    Forget all this sex kerrrrrrap! Go get a sex life!

  59. danithew on October 2, 2004 at 2:19 am

    Wow, I just got up to sort of peruse the ‘ol T&S and I have to say I’m amazed and laughing at some of the comments here …

    Since we’re talking about male and female orgasms here I thought I’d just add to this thread that the scriptures hint Jacob (Israel) might have needed a vegetable version of Viagra.

    Genesis 30:14
    14 And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.
    15 And she said unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband? and wouldest thou take away my son’s mandrakes also? And Rachel said, Therefore he shall lie with thee to night for thy son’s mandrakes.
    16 And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night.

    Mandrakes is translated from the Hebrew word dudaim. The mandrakes were commonly used as aphrodisiacs. Ironically, though Rachel received the sexual aids, Leah got to host her husband for the evening (and conceived as a result). The fact that Rachel felt these mandrakes were necessary might be hinting that Jacob was a little bit too tired at night from all the herding he had to do. Rachel obviously felt he could use some herbal assistance.

    One also has to wonder if Issachar was ever embarrassed that the story of his conception made its way into the scriptures. (Awwwww Mom!)

    One last point: as I was google-searching this term a bit I found a link that shows “dudaim” has somehow made it into a drug lexicon:

    http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,552391%7CDudaim,00.html

    It’s kind of funny to read the synonymous names for dudaim, one of them being “Satan’s Apple” and another being “Sorcerer’s Root.”

  60. Ethesis (Stephen M) on October 2, 2004 at 4:28 am

    modern circumcision is an early 20th century phenomenon tied to the modernistic attempt to improve cleanliness and reduce disease. Cicumcised males do not get penile cancer, etc.

    Is it an improvement? Should we all embrace the Hellenic ideal of being non-circumscribed (one that actually led some Jews to have surgery to create an artificial foreskin when they apostacized)?

    Hmm, I’m going back to bed.

  61. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2004 at 10:42 am

    Ethesis–

    Most major medical socieities have put circumcision into the ‘optional’ category because the benefits (if any) are so very slight.

    As with so many things, it depends on which risks and benefits you choose to weigh. Would you (not you personally, but . . .) exchange a 1 in a million increase in your risk for penile cancer (which would still be incledibly low) for an improved sex life for yourself and your partner?

    There are also issues concerning nonessential surgery on newborns, lack of pain medication (which, of course, is not essential to the procedure, but surprisingly common), etc.

  62. Ethesis (Stephen M) on October 2, 2004 at 10:55 am

    Well, with modern sanitation …. and I followed up with “is it an improvement?”

    Now that I’m awake again (I got up for about thirty minutes to wander around the house, check on people, etc.) I’m not sure I can come to any conclusions. Most medicine of the early 1900s, late 1800s was wrong, so am I going to take a stand saying this particular practice was right? Without the necessary background or experience?

    Not today, mabye tomorrow :) Lets see what they say in General Conference on the topic.

    As for newborns, when anesthesia was controlled by nurses, they got anesthesia. When the MDs took it over, they promulgated the scientific position that young children do not really feel pain and do not need anesethesia. The fatality rate went up dramatically, btw, but, as I’ve said, much of early medicine was wrong.

    With actual scientific studies, rather than pronouncements of ego, small children and newborns get anesthesia again, with some hold-overs.

  63. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2004 at 11:10 am

    Ethesis–

    Fair enough.

    Besides, if we start removing body parts from newborns because of the inability of children to keep those parts clean, there won’t be much left.

    I have to say: if earrings and tatoos are an offense against God, then how much more the removal of 1/3 of the penis? Of course, it is difficult to make an issue out of this one, since virtually no one gets to make a decision concerning his own circumcision.

  64. Ashleigh on October 2, 2004 at 5:07 pm

    Okay, let me profess my ignorance again, however barring a naturalistic explanation, I struggle to see the logical separation between saying that fewer orgasms along with painful/dangerous childbirth, rather than being a punishment for the fall is simply a consequence of the fall.

    How much control does the Lord have in creating consequences? Does he or does he not control them? (I know this question goes to the core of the nature of the atonement, but how that works exactly is philosophically misty to me.)

    It seems to me that if the Lord controls the consequences (remember no naturalist explanations here), then there is no difference between a consequence and a punishment. Is there?

    Or (if as theorized here, the sexual difficulties are in fact a consequence) is there something in the nature of the fall, something in the nature of women, that the Lord himself can not control, that would dictate that all women must have fewer orgasms and suffer for having sex, while men get off scott-free? The Lord had no choice but to create us this way because Eve, our mother, took the fruit.

    Does this imply that there is something in the very nature of her sin that could not be atoned by Christ?

    Only then could I see (assuming that this theory is correct) how the idea of consequence could be separated from the idea of punishment. Or, again, I could be missing something entirely obvious here.

  65. Bartholemew and the Oo-blech on October 3, 2004 at 1:10 am

    Ashleigh, let’s see if looking at other consequences of the fall sheds any light on how the atonement relates to original sin.

    Consequences of the fall for all of us:
    a) We are all mortal
    b) We are shut out of the presence of God
    c) Sin has entered the world and made itself very much at home.

    These are pretty serious, clearly real consequences of the fall. Compared with even one of these, differences of genital neurology are pretty minor details.

    Do these imply that there was something Christ couldn’t atone for? I suggest not. Christ’s having atoned for something doesn’t mean it ceases to have any influence on our lives. If you smoke for thirty years despite having been taught otherwise, then repent, you probably still have lasting health effects, even though Christ atoned for your sin.

  66. Terri on October 4, 2004 at 10:00 am

    My husband is a great fan of T&S and often tells me about some of your interesting threads. When he told me about this one – I just had to read it for myself. ;)
    My comment is I wonder if female orgasm has been ignored through history – or if it’s just been a recent/modern development. There are historical records -the Torah advises men to make sure their wife is pleasured in their sexual relationships before they are pleasured themselves. The Kuma Satra is a historical book that basically goes through the ways that couples can pleasure each other. In many cultures, before a man takes a wife – his mother will talk to the young man about the ways he needs to touch his wife in order to ensure that their relationship is enjoyable.
    Because we tend to shy away from these kinds of conversation, you end up with two people who know nothing about sex except what they learned in sex education. (Part A goes into Part B) and you have a very happy man and a slightly confused and unfulfilled woman. However, she doesn’t know any better – so she figures it just part of her wifely “duties.”
    I think that Heavenly Father made us to have joy – and therefore sex, which should be the greatest bonding tool in our relationship, should be wonderful. I think that, just as the Priesthood teaches men to serve, having to caress and be tender with a wife in order to bring her sexual satisfaction before the husband is satisfied, can teach men a great deal about love and create a greater relationship between couples.
    Thanks for the interesting discussion.

  67. Bob Caswell on October 20, 2004 at 9:53 am

    Where are we? Is this By Common Consent? I think Kaimi may have accidentally posted on the wrong blog. :-) No, but really, Kaimi, I can’t help but give you a hard time for your “PG-13 / Family Blog” comment. First of all, everything mentioned on this blog would fall well within PG-13 guidelines as outlined by the MPAA since no profanity has been used and no pictures have been uploaded. Mere sexual dialogue would have to go far beyond “my clitoris is like a little penis” in order to be R-rated. And secondly, you pulled a big no-no by most Mormon standards by equating “PG-13″ with “Family”. If this is indeed a family blog, then this post probably shouldn’t have existed… unless you mean families like mine where no children are present. But I can’t imagine someone like Julie in Austin gathering her family around this “family” blog and reading this post as part of a FHE even if there were no comments.

    I’d recommend you do what we had to do when you (and others) swore up a storm at Sons of Mosiah (even though you refrained here at T&S) under our “History of Profanity� thread. Put a little warning under your title. Ours reads, “*Warning: this post was NOT written to be offensive, but comments may contain offensive language.�

    Or you could ignore me; I’m just giving you a hard time. :-)

  68. a woman on October 22, 2004 at 8:18 pm

    At least Terri knows what I’m talking about!

  69. John on August 14, 2005 at 9:32 am

    The clitoris is the only organ that has as its function and reason for being nothing more than pure female pleasure. Ergo, God created this wonderful part of woman for her pleasure and exploration….God finds sex beautiful and the bridge that transcends us to the eternities when we learn how to use it.

  70. Yet Another Woman Too Shy To Use A Real Name on December 29, 2005 at 10:31 pm

    >The clitoris is the only organ that has as its function and reason for being nothing more than pure female pleasure.