Dita Parker

Friday, October 7, 2011

The O factor

Last week's post on vibrators got me thinking about orgasms. I must confess I feel a bit uncomfortable writing them. Not uncomfortable writing about them here, talking to you about them, but in erotic romance. I sometimes feel as if I'm perpetuating a myth. You know, that if she's not screaming and writhing as if having a seizure and if he's not going off like a New Year's rocket, no one's having fun or satisfied. I sometimes feel and fear I'm party to creating performance anxiety writing stories where most every sexual encounter ends in climax, his, hers or theirs; that I'm implying that's all there is, and that that's all there is to it.

Yes, I know. Readers are smart. I for one love reading the dream instead of reality and regularly opt for entertainment instead of education. I'm also willing to suspend a considerable amount of disbelief when it comes to fiction provided the fictional facts hold water in the context of the story world. But. I do believe we agreed at the start of Frisky Friday that it would be about fact not fiction. So. The O. Some facts I rounded up for you:

Less than a third of women reach orgasm when having sex. Three in four men always do. But:
Women have more than one nerve pathway for sensation; women have four, which in turn implies women are capable of experiencing more intense and complex orgasms than men. Furthermore, women can orgasm from not just genital but several forms of stimulation. Everything from knee to brow has been reported and recorded.
It is possible to "think off." You can orgasm without touching your body.
Male orgasm and ejaculation are not synonymous or interchangeable.
Orgasms have the same impact on the male brain as heroin does on the brain of an addict, plus activity in the male brain’s reward hub is off the charts at the point of orgasm. Meaning what? Sex can be addictive.
The more aroused a woman becomes, the more the parts of the brain responsible for processing fear and anxiety deactivate.
Orgasms activate the same part of the brain as pain. Which kind of explains those distorted O faces, doesn't it?
For women, orgasms become easier with age.
Anorgasmia (female orgasm disorder) is a condition in which women can't orgasm or have difficulty reaching climax.

Let's face it. When it's good, it's good. It's good for you, too. Orgasm is a natural high, a pain-blocker helping with everything from menstrual cramps to arthritis and alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. It releases muscle tension and heightens women’s sensitivity to touch. But if you've never had one and are left wondering, if orgasms are elusive for physical or psychological reasons (hormonal changes, certain medications and disorders, depression, diabetes, stress, fatigue etc.), if it affects the quality of your life or relationships, it can be more a source of sorrow than pleasure. That's why I think it's important to bust some of the myths surrounding orgasms and acknowledge that there may be an overemphasis on orgasms when talking about sex. More! Better!! Faster!!! Stronger!!!! 

Sex may be a contact sport but it's not a competitive sport and I don't think orgasms should be viewed as the finish line, at least not every time. Focusing on the destination, have we forgotten to enjoy the ride? Sex can be great, it can be frickin' fantastic, even if you don't come. It doesn't have to be fireworks every single time. Firecrackers are good. They are absolutely acceptable and they can be very pleasurable and it's not an epic failure on anyone's part and I hope you agree.

Porn may have something to do with it, the confusion and delusion. Porn may even have a lot to do with it since it has given many a pleasurable, wonderful things a bad name and perpetuated some harmful myths about sexuality in general and women's sexuality in particular. But that's another topic for some other Friday.

I'd love to hear what readers think. Is the big O the sugar in your Romantica tea? Is there something in the descriptions of those climactic scenes (pun tot. int.) that bother or even irritate you, or are fireworks what you expect and let's leave the firecrackers to mainstream romance authors? In the land of a thousand pleasures, is an orgasm the epitome?

Frisky Friday takes a break next week as I take a short trip. In the meantime, enjoy the downtime. And keep thinking those sexy thoughts.


Nina Pierce said...

All great questions. As an author I'm very interested in hearing what readers enjoy or dislike in that "climatic" scene.

Writing about the orgasm for me becomes about general terms of climbing the mountain and falling into the abyss. But for a woman who's never experienced orgasm, I suppose she wouldn't be able to relate to those types of generalities since that's not how she experiences sex.

Hmmm, interesting question indeed.

Dita Parker said...

Hi, Nina! I've read some very beautiful and intense descriptions, and I've read some that made me go hmmm. But what can you say about something that has no norm or "normal" except something, well, general, just like you said. One person's over-the-top may be someone's average-everyday-run-of-the-mill orgasm.

Dita Parker said...

P.S. For a comprehensive recap plus latest findings on the subject, check out "The Science of Orgasm" (Komisaruk, Beyer-Flores and Whipple).

Adele Dubois said...

Interesting post, Dita. I can't imagine writing or reading a book without the O. That would be like having oatmeal for breakfast.

I heard a joke once about the O that I've never forgotten. "Sex is like pizza. When it's good, it's really good. When it's lousy, it's still good."

Have a great trip!


Dita Parker said...

Hi, Adele, so good to see you here at the Den!

The O is a staple in erotic romance, isn't it? Can't have one without the other, it seems. If only it were that easy for everyone in real life. But the good news is most anyone who wants one can learn to have one. I read about a woman with spinal cord injury who'd found another route to orgasm via one of those alternative nerve paths only women seem to have. The human body is such an amazing complex the mind boggles.

And thanks, will try to make it back in one piece!

Naomi Bellina said...

Strangely enough, I like oatmeal for breakfast, which just goes to show that everyone has different tastes. I like for my characters to reach climax, at least most of the time. In real life, my partner and I both do, again, at least most of the time, not always. Like a cruise, getting there is half the fun!

Dita Parker said...

The strange life of erotic romance authors, talking orgasms first thing in the morning... But hey, they are just as important and natural a part of women's health as breakfast is, and just as varied. Some find them hard to come by, others don't. Some like oatmeal, others...not so much.

And like you said, Naomi, it's not just about the destination, you can and should have fun getting there! Sex is not a race. Less pressure equals more pleasure, I think.

Thanks for sharing. And keep having fun!