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Gender Roles In Sex: A Fresh Perspective

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The following is from Chapter 19, Technique, Afterplay and Feedback in The Selfish Path To Romance: How To Love With Passion And Reason by Dr. Edwin A. Locke & Dr. Ellen Kenner:

"For many women, sex feels like a chore when they don't achieve orgasm. Why is this pattern so common? One key is the fact that since most women cannot have vaginal orgasms, they seldom experience orgasms from traditional intercourse alone."

"For women, physical stimulation comes mainly from the clitoris."

"The penis rarely makes the needed contact with the clitoris during regular intercourse to bring a woman to orgasm. Many women feel self-doubt, guilt, frustration, and annoyance, wondering why their partners don't pay attention to their needs and why they themselves are too embarrassed to explain what helps them achieve orgasm. Sometimes they may not know. When sex feels like a duty, resentment escalates and the result is a sexually frustrating partnership."

"In his book The Great Sex Secret, veteran sex educator Kim Marshall notes that women often lack sexual satisfaction because neither partner understands the essential role of clitoral stimulation in achieving orgasm. Marshall advises: "The key to long-term sexual happiness is having a strong love relationship and finding an effective, mutually satisfactory way to bring both the man and the woman to orgasm while they are together."1 This does not mean partners have to have orgasms simultaneously or that they can't have occasional lovemaking sessions in which one or the other does not climax. But it does mean that they both need to know how to bring the woman to climax when she wants it. (Stimulating the man to help him climax is more obvious and better understood.)"

If it is true that:
1. For women, physical stimulation comes mainly from the clitoris;
2. The penis rarely makes the needed contact with the clitoris during regular intercourse to bring a woman to orgasm;
3. Given 1 and 2, most women seldom experience orgasms from traditional intercourse alone;
then, as Marshall says, the proper role for a man and a woman, during sex, is as partners working together to make it a mutually pleasurable experience.

Such a view is radically different from the view that during sex since:
1. it's the man who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated;
2. it's the man, who, by repeatedly stimulating the woman's vagina with his penis, makes possible his own orgasm and hers too;
3. Given 1 and 2, it's the man who causes the sexual pleasure of both;
it's the man who has a dominant role and the woman who has a submissive (receptive) role.

Now how does Marshall's view of the man and woman as partners-in-sex relate to masculinity and femininity?

I would say masculinity refers to those aspects (mental content & physical action) of a male human that enable him to view himself as a man and femininity refers to similar aspects of a female human that enable her to view herself as a woman.

So, in a romantic-sexual context, it's (also) the masculinity of a man that a woman is drawn to, and it's (also) the femininity of a woman that a man is drawn to, thereby enabling both to achieve psycho-sexual visibility of their respective gender identity.

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"Such a view is radically different from the view that during sex since:"

 

Rephrase this? The grammar is wonky. I can't tell if the next 3 points is just the standard view you're making a contrast with compared to the earlier view, or if they're supporting reasons of your conclusions.

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The penis isn't what stimulates the clit during missionary anyway. Its the lower pelvic region above the base of the penis. One needs strong lower abdomen muscles to tilt the pelvis sufficient enough to consistently rub her the right way... As somebody who had an eight pack most of his life and now more of a light six pack, I doubt most men can sustain the motion sufficiently.

As far as resentment on the part of the female due to lack of orgasm, there are plenty of other ways to stimulate her clit and any man worthy of the act should communicate well enough with her to find out what she likes.

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"Such a view is radically different from the view that during sex since:"

 

Rephrase this? The grammar is wonky. I can't tell if the next 3 points is just the standard view you're making a contrast with compared to the earlier view, or if they're supporting reasons of your conclusions.

 

The purpose of the 7th paragraph (partially quoted above) was two-fold:

1. To contrast the dominant-submissive view with the partners-in-sex view.

2. To present the premises underlying the dominant-submissive view.

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it doesn’t follow that sex would “feel like a duty” or “a chore” to a female just because she wasn’t having orgasms. this makes it sound like that's the only thing there is to get out of sex, or at least that that's the most important part of "sexual satisfaction" for women. i don't think that's true.

 

and if you follow the new set of points out, as long as both partners were climaxing, so that there is a “mutually pleasurable experience”, you could eliminate actual sex altogether without losing anything important. this seems like an absurd conclusion, indicating that something has to be missing from this understanding.

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it doesn’t follow that sex would “feel like a duty” or “a chore” to a female just because she wasn’t having orgasms. this makes it sound like that's the only thing there is to get out of sex, or at least that that's the most important part of "sexual satisfaction" for women. i don't think that's true.

Well the idea seems to be about exploring why it feels like a duty, not that the duty feeling necessarily follows from failing to achieve. Actually, if a person thinks about sex as only about orgasm, then it will probably start to feel like sex is an obligation or a chore, rather than any sensible feelings. I think the dominant-submissive view the OP characterized is what leads to making orgasm the main focal point. Your post is a reason why that view is wrong.

 

I don't understand your second part, though.

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The idea is absolutely that the duty feeling follows from that, that is what is asserted in the article: “For many women, sex feels like a chore when they don't achieve orgasm”. -The article starts out by taking orgasm as the main focal point. Sexual satisfaction = achieving orgasm, in the view of the author.

It says that this is “rarely” possible for “most women” “from traditional intercourse alone” (which I also doubt), and that this leads to sex feeling "like a duty", "resentment", and "a sexually frustrating partnership".

Thinking about sex in the traditional way (male-dominant) is supposedly leading to women not being able to enjoy sex, so the better way to look at it is more as "partners-in-sex" instead.

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The idea is absolutely that the duty feeling follows from that, that is what is asserted in the article: “For many women, sex feels like a chore when they don't achieve orgasm”. -The article starts out by taking orgasm as the main focal point. Sexual satisfaction = achieving orgasm, in the view of the author.

Right, but I see nothing saying it ceases to feel like a chore is solved by achieving orgasm. It's just saying of those who feel like it is a duty and they feel bad when they don't orgasm. It doesn't say anything about orgasm being the point of sex.

"(which I also doubt)"

You need better sex ed! Rarely is probably the wrong word, but it's definitely less often regarding anything I've read. The idea is if someone is focused on strictly orgasm from penetration, or thinking orgasm is only gonna happen in the way that it doesn't even happen for most, then it won't be very good psychologically speaking. Orgasm matters to some extent, and if someone barely knows how that works, they're in for disappointment. Better information helps that problem. Poor information only feeds bad feelings.

The "traditional way" is to blame, as it really does make orgasm the main good thing about sex. Thus, disappointment for those who don't happen to fit the very specific body type required for it to work fine. "Partners-in-sex" eliminates the dominant-man submissive-woman dichotomy anyway. It eliminates specific roles based on being male or female. The OP's line about "view himself as a man" doesn't make sense really, it just goes back to the traditional way. Why not "view himself as an individual"? It still captures psycho-sexual visibility rather than shoving in gender identity without any reason to.

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The people who are strictly focused on orgasm are the people who are taking the dominant-submissive psychological aspect out of it and not counting that toward the enjoyment of sex.

I don’t understand how you’re saying that the “traditional way” makes orgasm the main good thing about sex, when the author of the article, who takes the opposite “partnership” view of sex, is the one focused strictly on orgasm, making that the main criteria for good sex. From the traditional perspective, that doesn't have to be central.

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The people who are strictly focused on orgasm are the people who are taking the dominant-submissive psychological aspect out of it and not counting that toward the enjoyment of sex.

I don’t understand how you’re saying that the “traditional way” makes orgasm the main good thing about sex, when the author of the article, who takes the opposite “partnership” view of sex, is the one focused strictly on orgasm, making that the main criteria for good sex. From the traditional perspective, that doesn't have to be central.

I don't see how you're not understanding. Talking about how orgasms work and how to achieve it doesn't mean advocating it as the primary concern... It's correcting one part of a problem.

 

The "traditional view" as written in the OP is about primarily orgasm because it is built and operates on male orgasm. Unless you want to do the opposite of eliminate the psychological part, which is eliminate orgasm (or worse, totally ignoring that you as a woman could make sex more pleasurable to yourself). Orgasm is attainable by anyone without a medical problem at least. No reason to call that making orgasm the main purpose of sex.

 

"1. it's the man who penetrates and the woman who is penetrated"

This is male-centric pleasure. Not just incidental, but making sex revolve around penetration, which works best for males. It works less often for females. The only way to make it non-male-centric is to eliminate orgasm as a factor to good sex.

 

"2. it's the man, who, by repeatedly stimulating the woman's vagina with his penis, makes possible his own orgasm and hers too;"

Male-centric again, with the explicit objective of orgasm through penetration. This isn't just that orgasm is a factor, but here orgasm is what really makes it sex at all. So failure to orgasm could be seen as a personal failure. Then comes the duty part.

 

"3. Given 1 and 2, it's the man who causes the sexual pleasure of both;"

Explicitly not a mutual partnership. The man is responsible for any pleasure. Worse, it's aiming at a terrible way for most women to orgasm, especially since the goal of penetration is to cause an orgasm. The psychological aspect is already a mess for both from 1.

Edited by Eiuol

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“Advocating it as the primary concern” is exactly what is going on in this article, although you’re right, just talking about how it works doesn’t necessarily do that.

“Making sex revolve around penetration, which works best for males” is a ridiculous sentence. That’s what sex is. If there’s no penetration, it’s not sex. Is this really controversial? And this doesn’t only “work best for males”, it “works best” for reproduction. (Also note that you’re using “works” to mean: achieving orgasm. I wouldn’t).

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“Advocating it as the primary concern” is exactly what is going on in this article, although you’re right, just talking about how it works doesn’t necessarily do that.

“Making sex revolve around penetration, which works best for males” is a ridiculous sentence. That’s what sex is. If there’s no penetration, it’s not sex. Is this really controversial? And this doesn’t only “work best for males”, it “works best” for reproduction. (Also note that you’re using “works” to mean: achieving orgasm. I wouldn’t).

If "this article" refers to the OP, well, I don't think so.

 

I didn't mean penetration is not relevant, but in general sex really just would mean sexual contact, that's what sex is. It's not controversial, it just doesn't make sense, along the lines of "lesbians don't have sex" or someone who has done oral sex didn't qualify as having sex. By work best for males, I mean works best for males to orgasm. Again, I'm not saying orgasm is a primary concern, I'm saying making the subject of sex about penetration as the distinguishing aspect of sex is to make sex about male orgasm. Or it's about reproduction, but I don't think you're saying that.

Edited by Eiuol

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Though the quote specifies orgasm, even without going that far there is typically still more physical pleasure to be had for a female when clitoral stimulation is involved. One need not discard mental pleasure to get more physical pleasure though nor vice versa. That's the thing about sex, it's about both taken to their highest extents working synergistically. Likewise the parties involved work synergistically. Pretty much the entire point of sexually stimulating acts with other people is that somebody takes pleasure also in the pleasure of the other parties. To habitually pass up the opportunity to have more pleasure for oneself (physically in this case) in sex is to rob one's partners of pleasure derived from one's own pleasure which then means having cut out some possible (mental) pleasure for oneself habitually on top of the other pleasure being missed out on that was mentioned. You undercut one half of the sources of pleasure from sex and you undercut the other too.

 

It's like gifts. I know a lot of people will enjoy giving gifts to loved ones and want to give them something they'll like a lot, but try to avoid having those same loved ones give them gifts and will indiscriminately praise anything they do end up taking. These people fail to appreciate that their loved ones get that same sort of enjoyment from giving them gifts and having the gifts be things that are good for that person.

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ah, okay, i think that's been a source of confusion. i legitimately wasn't aware that "penetration as the distinguishing aspect of sex" was no longer a thing and that "sex really just would mean sexual contact". out of the loop i guess. it definitely follows though, should have occurred to me.

the term "synergistically" is a very good addition bluecherry.

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the term "synergistically" is a very good addition bluecherry.

I agree. We need the whole picture of the people involved where both provide achievement of sexual pleasure to the greatest extent, or as much as possible. So it would be rather strange to not talk about achieving the best parts of it - and lacking the best parts still doesn't prevent it from being nice! Philosophically, a word like "synergy" captures how sex is valuable, but also how spending time or doing things with another person can be valuable.

Edited by Eiuol

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The OP's line about "view himself as a man" doesn't make sense really, it just goes back to the traditional way. Why not "view himself as an individual"? It still captures psycho-sexual visibility rather than shoving in gender identity without any reason to.

 

During sex, even if a man and a woman view each other not as dominant-submissive but as partners, they are doing different things to make it mutually pleasurable.

And those things are different because they have different genders (if those things were the same, they would have to be of the same gender; but then we would no longer be discussing gender roles in sex, i.e., how a man and a woman ought to be during sex given what is.)

As examples, a man gets sexual pleasure by penetrating the woman or from fellatio given by the woman. Whereas a woman gets sexual pleasure by stimulating her clitoris or having her clitoris stimulated by the man (if she's comfortable with it), or from cunnilingus given by the man.

In other words, A is A. There are certain things in sex a man can do which a woman cannot. Likewise, there are certain things in sex a woman can do which a man cannot.

So there's nothing wrong with a man getting a heightened sense of awareness of himself as a man when he's doing things in sex with a woman which only a man can do qua man.

Just as there's nothing wrong with a woman getting a heightened sense of awareness of herself as a woman when she's doing things in sex with a man which only a woman can do qua woman.

But if one does not want to view oneself that way during sex, that's fine too. To each his own.

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During sex, even if a man and a woman view each other not as dominant-submissive but as partners, they are doing different things to make it mutually pleasurable.

And those things are different because they have different genders (if those things were the same, they would have to be of the same gender; but then we would no longer be discussing gender roles in sex, i.e., how a man and a woman ought to be during sex given what is.)

Would any people having sex really do the same thing anyway? Tall, short, thin, heavy set, different sexual interests in general, personal factors to arousal, etc. No two bodies are identical when it comes to sex - so of course any sexual partners do different things.

Maleness or femaleness does alter some physiological needs of sex, but it's more like the way height alters things. Of course the setup is different superficially, so the way orgasm occurs is different, except it doesn't prescribe ways a man or woman ought to be during sex besides just some details i.e. how the OP describes differences in how orgasms occur. There is more similarity between men and women probably than you'd think. So what I object to isn't about differences existing. The issue is that you're characterizing male or female sexual pleasure as totally distinct and unique, and I don't see much of an argument for there being a difference like that. Gender roles are a myth as far as I'm seeing.

Edited by Eiuol

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Both claims are false.

 

Vaginal orgasm are certainly more complicated for most women, but it's not a matter of ability but rather finding out how to achieve it.

 

In addition to the clit there are also the g-spot, a- and u-spot. And just to make things a little more fun the a-spot can also be stimulated by... well, taking the back road. My point being, mainly focusing on the clit is an oversimplification.

 

 

If sex feels like a duty there are bigger problems than a lack of clitoral stimulation. It's quite possible to climax without any physical stimulation at all, so there's more to it than putting the clit on a piedestal.

 

 

I dislike the glancing over the mans pleasure - like it's a given and it's all about pleasing the woman. It's not obvious how to please a man either, not if he has experience and some standards. Naturally both need to be sxually satisfied for it to work long term.

 

 

Well...

 

1. Not true.

2. True, such as it is stated. However, the penis can stimulate other important parts (and there's nothing to stop you from putting your hands to good use ;) ).

3. What is "traditional intercourse"? Sounds very dreary and Victorian... If it means only using the penis then, well... that's like thinking you only need a kitchen knife to cook dinner.

Sure, you need two (or more) to tango, but in general i'd suggest the man taking the lead to actually achieve mutual pleasure.

 

 

Who's view is that?

 

1. That's true.

2. Where does that premise come from?

3. Having dominant/submissive roles does not mean the dominant part is responsible alone. It means the man leads, but it does not mean the woman is completely passive.

 

 

 

Sure, but what are those aspects exactly? And how does this connect to the rest of your post?

 

Edited by Alfa

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I think the dominant-submissive view the OP characterized is what leads to making orgasm the main focal point.

That's utter nonsense. There's nothing in having dominant/submissive roles that makes orgasms the main focal point. The original post however is almost entierly focused on one single aspect of physical stimulation and female orgasms, so who's really making it a focal point?

 

(Caveat: Orgasms ARE important, but sex is not a race to the finish line)

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Alfa, I just didn't spell it out all the way. Perhaps the OP is too focused, but I was talking about the quoted book (which I've read). Besides, my reasoning is that dominant/submissive has its origin in a dumb penetrator/penetrated dichotomy, which in turn relies on making male pleasure more important than female pleasure. Why? Because most women don't "get off" by penetration alone. If the dominant/submissive doesn't originate in a penetrator/penetrated dichotomy,  well, make your case. I clearly stated my criticism of three points. Respond to those rather than saying one sentence is "utter nonsense".

Baseless social norms are largely why women are more sexually submissive. It's not a constant of human history. You know as well as I do that norms become so part of society that they're taken for granted. Especially norms of behavior! Myth means that the norm exists but has no objective basis.

Edited by Eiuol

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Vaginal orgasm are certainly more complicated for most women, but it's not a matter of ability but rather finding out how to achieve it.

What is your basis for this statement?

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Alfa, I just didn't spell it out all the way. Perhaps the OP is too focused, but I was talking about the quoted book (which I've read). Besides, my reasoning is that dominant/submissive has its origin in a dumb penetrator/penetrated dichotomy, which in turn relies on making male pleasure more important than female pleasure. Why? Because most women don't "get off" by penetration alone. If the dominant/submissive doesn't originate in a penetrator/penetrated dichotomy,  well, make your case. I clearly stated my criticism of three points. Respond to those rather than saying one sentence is "utter nonsense".

Baseless social norms are largely why women are more sexually submissive. It's not a constant of human history. You know as well as I do that norms become so part of society that they're taken for granted. Especially norms of behavior! Myth means that the norm exists but has no objective basis.

It has nothing to do with who's pleasure is more important. Physical differences make men the initiators or agressors. Men can take what they want. That's not a prescription on how to have sex, aside from the man taking a dominant role. And your sentence was utter nonsense. Still is. It's a completely false claim.

 

Where's the proof?

No, I don't know that norms become so part of society that they're taken for granted. Even if I accepted that, which I don't, for the sake of argument, sexuality has very little to do with norms. Those norms are just superficial things laid on top of base desires.

I've grown up and live in one of the most feminist countries on Earth; where women are taught to be butch and men taught to be submissive. Dominant men and male sexuality is frowned upon. Still, while women happily regurgitate feminist propaganda they rarely choose the feminist men. Strange how they don't follow the norm, no?

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What is your basis for this statement?

A lot of women.

 

See, here's the problem. There are lots of different places to stimulate physically, while mental stimulation is also exceptionally important. Meanwhile, different women have different preferences. Sadly though, experimentation is not as common as one might think (seriously, I know several women who didn't discover how good sex can be until they were 45). So, unless Moses has already been there and shown here where to buy the beer, well... I understand why it's a common belief that vaginal orgasms has to do with ability. Especially when it's just accepted that this is the way it's supposed to be.

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It has nothing to do with who's pleasure is more important. Physical differences make men the initiators or agressors. Men can take what they want. That's not a prescription on how to have sex, aside from the man taking a dominant role. And your sentence was utter nonsense. Still is. It's a completely false claim.

Is that your whole argument? It doesn't even address post number #10 where I am substantiating my claims. I'm basically asking how physical differences mean men ought to be initiators by their nature. 

 

I've grown up and live in one of the most feminist countries on Earth; where women are taught to be butch and men taught to be submissive. Dominant men and male sexuality is frowned upon. Still, while women happily regurgitate feminist propaganda they rarely choose the feminist men. Strange how they don't follow the norm, no?

The majority are not like that in any country. (Aside from the fact that no kind of feminism teaches that, but that's a different topic). So, no, it's not strange. Let's stay away from the norms part, though. Whether the norms are objective or not depends on whether your position on dominance is true.

Edited by Eiuol

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