Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Pressure to Come: Does it Work Both Ways?

So a few days back, I was reading something the always very readable Steff from the cunting linguist wrote called "Erectile Problems: Bent Outta Shape When Not Takin' Shape." The basic gist of her message can be summed up in one of her opening paragraphs:
It enrages me when I hear about women whining that a man couldn’t get it up. It happens, honey. Get the fuck over yourself.
Anyway, the discussion of women's presssure on men to stay hard and orgasm started me thinking about the situation in reverse. It somehow brought up a memory of some comedian's routine I saw once (maybe Denis Leary...I'm no longer sure), where he talks about how back in the day, men could have cared less if they brought their women to orgasm, but now that people are more aware of the female orgasm, men simply can't feel "like a man" if they don't get their female partners to come at least once. He went on to imply the general sentiment had become that making a woman come had become a competitive sport for men--the more orgasms you scored, the more of a man you were. I remember the phrase "I won the orgasm cup!" being thrown around somewhere toward the end of the routine.

You may want to weigh in on whether this theory is in fact true, though in my personal experience, it seems to be so. Men feel they haven't succeeded unless you've come.

Contrast that against the many studies that show that a large percentage of women have trouble orgasming all the time, and some can't orgasm at all, ever. It makes you wonder if, similar to men, women also feel a lot of pressure, and if this is the reason why a "2000 Orgasm Survey" (cited in this article) found that 72 percent of women said they fake orgasms.

Obviously, it's easier for women to fake their arousal than it is for men. Men can't "cover" to avoid hurting the women's feelings. I wonder if they would if they could. And also, it makes me wonder about the pressure to orgasm in the reverse of Steff's discussion. Things like:
  • Do straight women these days feel a significant amount of pressure from their men to orgasm during sex? Do they feel guilty if they don't?

  • Is this the primary reason orgasms are faked?

  • Do men feel a lot of pressure to bring a woman to orgasm? Do they feel a sense of failure if they do not? Do they secretly (or not secretly) feel disappointed, resentful, or less manly if they don't? Do they take it personally?

  • Have any women out there experienced a lot of pressure or had the moment totally ruined by a guy's insistence on her having an orgasm, and his pouting and taking it personally if she did not?
Overall, I don't have a lot of experience with which to answer this question, because I've somehow been lucky enough have been blessed with a highly orgasmic biological makeup, something which has continued to developed and increase as I get older. But I suspect, based on the clear focus every one of my lovers has had on making sure that I came, and came often, that perhaps they might have felt bummed out if I hadn't. Whether they'd make that evident or not, I'm not sure.

What do you think? Is the pressure on both ways now?


Blogger chelsea girl said...

Actually, there's some fairly interesting historical evidence that supports the theory that previous to about mid-1750, there was great pressure to make women come.

It used to be believed that female orgasm was necessary to reproduction--in fact until around the mid-to-late eighteenth century, if a woman got pregnant from rape, the rape case was thrown out of court. If she got pregnant, she enjoyed it; if she enjoyed it, it wasn's rape, went the logic.

Eventually, the scientific revolution and experiential evidence overtook the idea that reproduction was contingent on female pleasure, and so, voila!, current theories suggest, men began to feel less pressure to make women orgasm.

All of this intellectual sexuality can be found in Thomas Lacquer's Making Sex (he also has a great book on masturbation). I would add, however, something that Lacquer doesn't have in his book and that is this: around the beginning of the eighteenth century, extending to its close, there was an unprecedented rise in population. Cultural Historians note that there was no lowering in infant mortality, no extension in the life expectancy, nothing in place that usually explains ginormous growth rates (essentiall, the population almost triples in under 100 years).

Instead, they theorize that people just started fucking more and that activites that used to be primary sexual acts--oral, anal and digital--were relegated to "foreplay." It's interesting that these two social phenomena happened concurrently--simultaneously men were relieved of the burden of making women orgasm and people started having more--or exclusively--vaginal sex.

Anyway, thus ends the brief history lesson.

4/12/2006 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Hiromi said...

To build on what CG said: it's funny how we use the word "Puritan" to describe backwards views on sex, because they felt very strongly that sexual pleasure, for both parties, was vital in a marriage. Women could bring a complaint about their husbands to the village headman or whatever, that he wasn't taking care of business. "Victorian" would be a more accurate term.

Anyway, many guys have said "I enjoy your orgasms more than I enjoy my own." An attitude which, combined with skill and thoughtfulness, is absolutely fantastic, but combined with impatience and no skill, really sucks.

Margaret Cho did a routine on how she couldn't come with her boyfriend and what an asshole he was.

4/12/2006 11:06 AM  
Blogger Romancing Simplicity said...

Hey, a fellow Jew in a sea of Gentiles! Happy Passover to you too! I don't have time to read this right now because I'm on my way out the door to go celebrate, but I wanted to say thanks for the comment and I hope you have a nice one too. I'll definitely be coming back to this post, though, I have something to add to the comments.

Well, that and I should probably explain my Jewish-ness before I help set up a Jewess blogring. Cuz...err...well, it's a long story, but I'll get to that when a seder dinner hasn't got my name on it.

Happy Passover again!

4/12/2006 12:47 PM  
Blogger Karl Elvis said...

All I know is, when I say I want my partner to come, it's completely selfish. It gets me off to see/hear her. IT's all about my pleasure, you see. B^)

...And I do have that cup on my shelf. Though it's a bit dusty.

4/12/2006 12:51 PM  
Blogger Aine said...

I expect to come each time. Whether this is at my male partner's hands or my own when he nips to the bathroom afterwards, I don't care. Frankly it's better if I do it myself.

With female partners...well, I've been known to fake with both...

I expect, if they could, men would fake to save feelings too.

4/12/2006 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife doesn't feel any particular urgency to orgasm; she likes it when it happens, but for her, sex is just fine if she doesn't.

I, on the other hand, love it when she comes, and I try to "help it happen" as best I can, but if she's not terribly into coming on any given night, it doesn't much matter what I do.

One thing she has told me - I am forbidden, under virtually any circumstances, to ask her afterward if she came. From her perspective, that just increases pressure on her to "perform" or "produce". So I don't ask (I even understand what she means).

Now, last week, we had an especially fine lovemaking session (as far as I could tell), and she told me afterward (she volunteered, I didn't ask) that she had come three times, and how nice it was, since she doesn't orgasm very often. That was nice to hear, for sure, but it was also a tad perplexing, since what I saw wasn't radically different from what I usually see when we make love. Esentially, I learned that I can't tell the difference between my wife having three orgasms and not coming at all. I suppose the good news is, I'm pretty sure she's not faking orgasms.

Now, I freely admit that I may not be quite the skilled lover that I'd like to be. I do feel a bit of pressure - mostly self-imposed - to give her maximum possible pleasure, but her criteria for what constitutes satisfying sex seem to be different than what I've always thought (or been told) they were.

The lesson seems to be, love her and be attentive to her needs, and whether she comes or not, be happy for the bonding and the time we have together.


4/12/2006 3:51 PM  
Blogger scribe called steff said...

I don't feel the pressure, and never really have. I've faked occasionally in the past, but now that I'm an adult, I don't go in for that crap anymore.

It probably accounts for why a lot of women have faked, though.

These days, my guy's injured and doesn't have a lot of energy, so I don't want him to feel like he needs to get me off. I have, and do, get my fingers in on the action and do the clit thing at the same time. We're working on getting simpatico with the whole simultaneous orgasm thing, since it's important to him and I know I'd love to be able to be that way with him anyhow.

But, yeah, it's pretty dependent on the lover. I think a lot of guys use whether they can make a chick orgasm as a measure of their manliness, and as a woman, you'd have to be pretty blind to not have seen that, you know? I think chicks feel the need to go there for them, to keep their men feeling like men.

Strange little world, this sex-type thing.

4/12/2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've had a friend complain about a guy pressuring her. The story made me laugh my ass off.

Personally, I'm apparently one of those unlucky girls who doesn't orgasm during sex. I suspect the general selfishness and inexperience of my partners may have contributed, but by no means do I blame them. Even when they put forth some extra effort, I haven't gotten close. But it's not like sex, and sex play, are completely unenjoyable without orgasming...

I've also had a guy friend tell me a story about not being able to come, and lying about it to his partner.

4/12/2006 5:20 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Chelsea Girl: Innnnteresting. Must add that to my reading list. Strange though that they equated pregnancy with a guaranteed orgasm. I wonder which cultures this info was relevant to? Western or easter world? Also, you do get a lot of accounts of women from back then saying they didn't enjoy I wonder if even if the belief that orgasm was necessary did exist, if in fact that many orgasms were happening. Food for thought...

Hiromi: Margaret Cho is a goddess. Boring straight girl that I am, I'd volunteer to make her come any day. I've seen her live, and she was amazing. Her blog is really fun, too. In fact, I really ought to add it to my blog list, as I do read it a lot.

Over the past decade or so, I've run into many, many men who have seemed to have some strange *need* to voluntarily tell me how much they love giving women orgasms. It often almost verges on the "protests too much" angle sometimes. I think somehow this is supposed to show that they're enlightened (or maybe they think it will make them more sexually appealing to me). I always feel like going, "Do you want an award for that? Aren't isn't everyone *supposed* to like making a woman come?"

I mean, I love making men come, too. But I don't need to advertise that (unless they ask, and I'm in the mood to tell them). They'll find that out just fine if I decide they're someone I *want* to make come.

Romaning Simplicity: May you have plenty of matzoh and orgasms this holiday. "Let my people come." (The egg on the platter *does* symbolize fertility, after all.) What do you think we should call the webring? Jewesses with Attitude? Hebraic Hussies?

Karl: I got me a nice jar of silver polish right here. Come and get it.

And okay, if you want a woman to come for purely selfish means, does that mean that if she doesn't, you feel she hasn't fulfilled you?

Jules: I've never faked, but I guess I'm selfish that way. If they didn't make me come, I want them to know they have to try harder the next time. I also expect to come every time, too, which may also be selfish.

Well, let me clarify that. I do expect my lover to *want* to make me come every time. There may be times for my own reasons where I want to deny him that and just make it all about him. You know those games: You don't get to touch, but I get to do things to you. If you touch me, I stop. That kind of thing. (Or just when I want to see him get off on his own.) Or you know, if we're going the other route and he's playing a more dominant role and telling me what I "have" to do to him, if that's where we've agreed to go.

But when it's equal-plane sex, then I think he should never assume I don't get to come, too. Selfish of me, maybe, but orgasms are just too good to pass up. And if he's even reasonably good at it, it won't be hard for him to accomplish it in some way or other, so he won't have TOO much pressure.

CKG: When I was much younger, I couldn't come with my first ever sexual partner. I had had orgasms on my own, so I knew what they felt like, but I think things were just too new to me to fully be lost in the moment enough to orgasm. But I didn't mind it then. The sex *was* nice enough without it. But now that I orgasm during sex pretty regularly, I think I would miss it.

But I also think that sex can be enjoyable without orgasm, and people shouldn't put SO much focus on making sure it happens that it ruins the whole mood in general. Some women just can't, and though I wish all of us could, it doesn't mean they can't still have nice sex lives.

Wow, I can't imagine having 3 orgasms and the other partner not being able to tell. That is one quiet wife you have there. It's kind of impressive, that. I'm guessing none of my lovers would ever have much difficulty knowing when I do--I'm um...let's say...very obvious.

I understand the whole "don't ask me afterward" thing. I think i might feel the same way if I weren't regularly orgasmic. But I personally don't mind if the guy asks. I like having an instant-replay rehash after the fact. I think it's sexy.

Steff: Thanks for stopping by, and for being my inspiration for this post. Yeah, strange little world indeed.

You know, i have both had and not had that simultaneous orgasm thing. I can't say as I find one any more enjoyable than the other. Neither is bad, mind you, it's just it didn't make much of a difference to me sensation-wise. Not sure about the guy, though.

Anonymous: There are a huge number of women who can't orgasm. I personally think a lot of it has to do with 1) physical sexual maturity and 2) comfort and trust level.

I think my orgasms have gotten stronger and better the older I got. As described earlier, with my first lover, I never came, even though he was quite experienced in bed. And I notice it often takes longer for me to come the very first time I sleep with anyone. I think that's because I'm just learning who they are, and how to connect to them emotionally. I pretty don't have one-night-stands because I doubt I'd be able to come, or at least not *really* come well. My orgasms are always WAY more intense when I feel some kind of connection to the person.

Anyway, just because you're not orgasming now doesn't mean you never will. I've had lots of friends who took a long time to get there. But then they meet someone who takes the pressure off and who they really feel connected to, and then it happens.

And yeah, I've often felt if I didn't have a condom as evidence, I'd never be able to be 100% sure the guy really came (if he came inside me). I don't guess many guys fake it, but I suppose they *could.*

4/12/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I love you. This is exactly what happens to me - my partner is awesome, very enthusiastic about making me come, but sometimes it's just too much. Which blogger used the phrase 'I feel like a lawnmower that won't start'? It stuck with me. It takes me a very long time, and he really does try very hard. Which makes me try very hard to come. Doesn't work out. Anyway, I know this, so I tell myself to relax, but trying really hard to relax is just as ineffective. I'm perfectly capable of making myself come on my own, but masturbating in front of him tends to be a similar situation.

So SILLY! I'd be able to get over myself and forget it, but he pops that question after every session - "You came, right?" or something along those lines. Although we've been having more intense experiences of late, and I've been coming more (especially when I'm trying not to, or rather, to last). Did I mention he's my first partner?

Also, your last reply made me wonder... Am I supposed to be instantly aware when he comes? I can usually tell... but not always.

Anyway, thanks for writing. You crazy female bloggers make me excited about my future sex life. So much to do. Christ.

Also, chelsea girl - read Laquer's masturbation piece in my intro soc class. Fun times. I'm still wrapping my mind around that one.

4/14/2006 1:53 AM  
Blogger Cherrie said...

Another mind-bending topic to comment on! What a broad canvas on which to paint! Thank you, Miss Syl (with a key assist to Steff) for leaving us with this one to mull over as you enjoy the holiday.

I’d like to approach it from both directions. First, the male. I happen to live with the proud owner of a 53-year-old penis, and have had several decades worth of pleasure with this exquisitely experienced organ. Guess what? As reliable as he usually is, he can’t get it up every time, and he doesn’t cum every time we fuck. Do I care? No.

You see, I want several things from sex. The intimacy. The closeness. The laughter (for sex is fun). The stimulation. The penetration. The orgasm(s). If I get everything, that’s great. If I get some things but not everything, that’s all right, let’s just try it again later. A man doesn’t need a hard cock to be loving, caressing, caring or even sexually playful (just because his cock isn’t hard doesn’t mean his lips, tongue and fingers can’t satisfy me).

He says there are many reasons he may not be able to perform. He may not feel well. (Once, long ago, we had to poop out on an orgy we were invited to because he got sick.) He may be tired. He may have drunk too much. He may have his mind on some problem from work he hasn’t solved, or something he needs to do. (He’s very purposeful.) Or he may feel that, for whatever reason, he isn’t turning me on—my pussy might be dry, or my nipples not erect—and that discourages him and causes his dong to droop.

And then there’s age. No question he’s in the prime market for all those hard-on pills Big Pharma is selling. He doesn’t use them, because he’s healthy and fit, he dislikes drugs and he doesn’t need help to get it up, most of the time. But age does make a difference. It’s more difficult for him to achieve that rock-hard erection I remember from his youth. Sometimes I feel him go a little soft while he’s in me. But the pleasure is still there, and I still love the sensation.

So does he feel pressure? No. He is secure in his manliness and in our relationship. He knows I love him as he is. He knows I accept his human frailties, and if he can’t get hard or cum, I will hold him just as tight as we sleep, and in all likelihood he will be raring to go when we wake again.

The same is true for my other lovers. If you look at one of the early entries in my baby blog, you’ll find my description of an out-of-town tryst with one of them. To summarize, he ran out of gas about 2 a.m., but we merrily ate each other and he finger-fucked me till dawn. It was wonderful either with his hard-on, or without.

Now, from my perspective. I love sex. I rarely have problems getting aroused, and I can achieve orgasm rather easily. (I sometimes do it just lying on my stomach and rubbing my clit on the sheet, to the amazement of my partners.) So I have no need to fake, and feel no pressure to cum. If I do, I do. If not, I keep fucking, sucking, fondling etc. till I am satisfied. If I can't perform for some reason, I just go to sleep and get back on track when I am better.

I know that not every woman has it this easy. I’ve had female lovers who (inconceivable as this may seem) have not achieved orgasm for months or years. Perhaps unskillful, uncaring or selfish past partners had a role in this. I could speculate for pages on other causes. But it is a wonderful feeling to be the lover of one of these women when they finally do get it going.

My best advice to them, and to you, is just allow yourself to be, to forget about goals, to lose yourself in the moment, to feel the other person(s) touch, kiss and caress, and to respond in kind. You shouldn’t care about whether you achieve orgasm within a particular time. Lovemaking is a journey, not a destination. If you enjoy the travel, it really doesn’t matter where you are going, or when you get there.

4/15/2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger Romancing Simplicity said...

Okay I've tried a million times but no matter how anonymous I am, I just can't write the comment I want to on here and press submit. Soooo do you have an email address I can send it to?

Mine is

HMMMMM either one of those webring names works. I like the latter personally but I think we'd cut off a bunch of the Jewess population, don't you think?

Also I should clarify that I'm not a super Jew or anything. I'm a convert but I've sort of fallen back into my Protestant habits since and my boyfriend's atheist so we observe in like a hybrid fashion.

4/20/2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Anonymous: Thanks for loving me. I think you're right, the key is to relax. And also (I'm assuming you're a younger woman by something you wrote), I do believe as women's bodies mature as they get older, so does their sexual impulse. As you become more confident in who you are as a woman, and who you want as a partner, your ability to orgasm in any context will get easier, and (at least in my experience), the orgasms keep getting better and better.

Cherrie: Thanks for all that info. Good advice all around. Putting pressure on either side to come is just going to ruin things, when you could be having fun.

Romancing Simplicity: The email's in my user profile, typed out so that I don't get spam. Just click on my name at the top of this comment and you should get to it.

4/21/2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger ShyRocket said...

This topic is one of the themes of my blog. For a long time my wife's terms for sex was that she didnt cum... long story. But I didnt like that because I want her to enjoy sex to the max. Now were dancing back and forth between meeting in the middle, sometimes she does and sometimes she doesnt but it's no longer and absolute no. None of this was ever a trophy discussion, though, it was about giving my wife pleasure because i want her to enjoy sex.

4/23/2006 3:51 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

ShyRocket: Thanks for your comments. I think it's good when men want to make their women come, just so long as they don't pressure them to, because I suspect once they feel pressure, it's probably impossible for them *to* come.

I'm glad that she's starting to feel more relaxed and comfortable in her body so that she can enjoy her orgasms.

4/24/2006 9:52 PM  

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