New Internationalist

Paradise Lost

Issue 158

new internationalist
issue 158 - April 1986

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Paradise Lost
It may be perfect for producing babies. But, if the pursuit
of pleasure is one of its aims, it is difficult to imagine an act
more calculated to fail than normal sexual intercourse. To
demonstrate why, here is an NI roundup of the major
research of how women and men experience sex.

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Normal sex is designed for his pleasure. In fact it is the only intimate contact he is allowed with another human being. That's why he wants it so desperately and feels so hurt and angry when he is denied it. But, though thrusting his penis into her vagina is one of the quickest and surest ways to bring him to orgasm, it's one of the slowest and least reliable ways for her. The result: he must wage a constant battle against premature ejaculation - while wondering why she is so unwilling to initiate sex.

 

NORMAL SEX

99% of men would not want to change or redefine sex.1

54% would be unwilling to have sex without penetration.1

We just undress, go to bed and play for quite a long time. Then I mount and we have intercourse, and that's it.

For me sex is intercourse with ejaculation. You can add more to it, but you can't take away this essential part.

After I'm done, it's over. I can't help it.

 

DESIRE

89% of men want more sex, regardless of how often they are having sex at the moment.1

80% - 90% initiate sex almost every time but 30% - 33% wish that women initiated sex.1

More. I just want more.

My wife just doesn't want to like I do - too tired, headache, ceiling needs painting, wrong time, kid crying, don't mess my hair, go ahead if you want to.

If I'm rejected I feel like slinking off to a corner like the lecherous scum she must think I am.

My fantasy is that I'd love to have someone make passes at me. The truth is that I'd probably be scared to death.

 

FOREPLAY

64% - 68% of men feel pressurised to engage In more 'foreplay' than they want.1

It's pleasant work, but it is still work.

Too many women just lie there looking silently up at you as if to say 'Okay, make it happen'

I like it for two microseconds - no, I don't really mean that, about five to ten minutes.

I wish I could experience pure affection. But I get turned on unbelievably quickly even when I just intend to neck and do nothing else. I can't help it.

 

INTERCOURSE

94% - 97% of men always, or almost always, ejaculate during sex, always or almost always in their partner's vagina.'2

The immense pressure to get an erection, keep the erection, thrust exactly the way she likes (with no help from her telling me how she likes it), last longer than 10 to 15 minutes without prematurely ejaculating - it's just too much to do it right every time.

I wish she would orgasm during intercourse. She has refused to read books or try to learn how to do it.

It matters a lot to me that she comes during intercourse. If she came some other way I'd feel useless.

I prefer coitus. Then clitoral stimulation if that doesn't work.

 

FAKING ORGASM

61% of men don't know or are not sure whether their partner has an orgasm during sex.'

With my wife sometimes I'll ask. And she'll say 'Couldn't you tell?' or 'What difference does it make?'

I don't really know when a woman's satisfied. If I'm satisfied and she seems to be then it's over.

 

PROBLEMS

74% of men are worried that they are not able to 'thrust for long enough'.1

66% of men seeking professional advice with sexual problems are worried about lack of erection or premature ejaculation. Only 22% are worried about low interest or lack of enjoyment.3

If she is out of control, really feeling good, I lose my head and go. If I don't get an erection I always feel shocked, stunned, humiliated shamed, unmanly and just plain useless.

If I had a dollar for every time I've counted numbers or gone over plans in my head - anything so as to squeeze out a few more strokes.

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Normal sex is what she does to get close to him. It's the only time he ever touches her. But she finds it difficult to have an orgasm from the sensations of his thrusting penis, so she prefers foreplay to actual intercourse. She dare not take her pleasure actively with her clitoris the way he does with his penis or suggest they have sex differently, because she is afraid he will leave her if she becomes too demanding. Knowing sex may leave her frustrated, she freezes whenever he touches her or fakes her orgasm to please him.

 

NORMAL SEX

32% of women are dissatisfied with their sex lives.3

3 of out 4 would like to make changes in their sex lives.2

Most men will engage in a little manual stimulation but expect a woman to reach orgasm during intercourse.

I'd like to change the whole kiss-feel-fuck routine.

Sex should be sheer luxuriating in pleasure, enveloped in warmth and touching all over - not a race for orgasm.

 

DESIRE

22% of women wish they wanted sex more often.

24% wish they were more uninhibited during sex.2

Imagine the scene. Husband reads paper all evening. 10.30 p. m. Table to lay for breakfast, have hot drink. Bed. He reads technical magazines or library book. ll.00 p. m. lights out. What kind of a sexy mood would you get? I see myself as a hole in the mattress.

I cannot let myself go or show any pleasure in case he thinks I'm sex-mad or something.

I would love him to want me first and sex second He only measures my love by sex and feels utterly rejected if sex is not readily there.

 

FOREPLAY

1 In 3 women would like more kissing and cuddling before and during sex.2

31% feel that the only time their partner cuddles them is when he wants sex.2

4 out of 5 women have problems getting aroused.2

I like playing with their bodies but, except for fondling their penis. They don't seem to get much enjoyment out of it.

He thinks foreplay is a favour, like opening a door.

They seem to think that vaginal penetration is the only important thing and that all else should be done to 'get you ready.

 

INTERCOURSE

64% - 80% of women seldom or never have orgasms from the sensations of penetration alone.3'

50% fantasize to bring themselves to orgasm, 25% do so frequently.2

Research shows women can masturbate to orgasm In 4 minutes and that less than 1 in 10 women have never had an orgasm.2.'

At first l think 'Oh it doesn't matter and then I think 'NO! why should l settle for that?'

I read about orgasm and hear about it constantly. How would you like to be colour-blind and keep reading about rainbows and butterflies? The position of my clitoris is responsible. It just doesn't seem to be stimulated by anything in my vagina.

 

FAKING ORGASM

Between 34% and 40% of women regularly pretend to have orgasms to please their partners.

My husband has threatened to withhold money or favours if I do not have sex with him. So I fake it. What the hell?

My husband believes every woman he has had sex with in the past has had no difficulty in coming. I know they faked it and so do they!

 

PROBLEMS

1 in 2 women wish they enjoyed sex more.2

70% feel that their partners ejaculate too soon, 16% say this happens almost always.2

80% of women seeking professional advice with sexual problems are worried about their low interest or lack of enjoyment.2

To avoid frustration I would think myself into a state off rigidity, then I found it harder and harder to defrost myself

I listen to my lover sleep and wish I had the nerve to masturbate. It has reached the point that I almost know it's no use starting any more.

All quotes are from responses to questions in the two Hite surveys, both of which were conducted in the US. The Sanders research was on women in the UK.

1. Hite, S, The Hite Report on Male Sexuality Macdonald, 1981.
2. Sanders, D, The WOMAN Book of Love and Sex Sphere, 1985.
3. Bancroft, J, Human Sexuality and its Problems Churchill Livingstone, 1983.
4. Hite, S, The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality Summit, 1977.

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