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Background Research to Understanding Female Orgasm – Part I Alfred Kinsey

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  • Background Research to Understanding Female Orgasm – Part I Alfred Kinsey

    The most significant work has been done by: Alfred Kinsey (1953) and Shere Hite (1976). Many people assume that this research is so old that it is no longer relevant. But women’s sexuality cannot fundamentally change in the space of a few decades.

    Men don’t need information or encouragement to orgasm so why should women’s orgasmic ability change as a result of improvements in social attitudes or education? Yet each generation explains young women’s enthusiasm for sex in terms of lower inhibition and better information. Naturally the experience of their elders, that has stood the test of time, is rejected as irrelevant. It was just the same in the 1950s.

    Both researchers concluded that women orgasm most easily through masturbation. Sex surveys inevitably attract women who are more educated than average who have the personal confidence to discuss orgasm. Kinsey also noted that masturbation relies on having an imagination and so may be more common among the college-educated.

    Kinsey and Hite’s findings were never accepted even at the time they were published because they contradicted the popular beliefs about female sexuality. Heterosexual women tend to be more comfortable discussing sex in the context of a relationship where orgasm occurs as an implicit aspect of sex. Explicit sexual activity, such as masturbation, is more typically associated with men and lesbian women.

    Kinsey surveyed 5,940 women by interviewing them in private between 1938 and 1949. Few people today are aware of his detailed conclusions about female sexuality. For example, he found that 10% of women never orgasm ever in their whole life.

    Of the women in his sample, 58% had masturbated at some point in their lives. But only 20% masturbated regularly. Even these women masturbated only once every 2 – 3 weeks. Kinsey commented on the contrast with male frequencies of masturbation. Kinsey also found that only some women orgasm during sex (around 36 – 44% of females in his sample) but never every time (on average 70 – 77% of the time).

    Both sexes were outraged by such an ‘anti-family’ view of women’s sexuality. Liberals defended the male view of sex as women appearing to enjoy equal sexual pleasure. Conservatives defended the female view of sex as ‘love-making’ that leads to family.

    Female masturbation is relatively uncommon, yet Kinsey used it as the basis for studying orgasm. Women’s masturbation techniques were 95% effective and they could orgasm more quickly (4 minutes) than with a partner (10 – 20 minutes or more).

    Although highly contentious, no one has presented a scientifically justifiable alternative to Kinsey and Hite’s findings in subsequent decades. Presumably surveys of female sexuality are such political dynamite that no one dares venture forth again.
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