Two Annoying Articles on Money, Sex and Orgasm

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OK. Here are two articles from the Times in the UK that have seriously annoyed me ever since I read them earlier this week.

The first has the headline Wealthy men give women more orgasms and states

“Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner,” said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research.

He believes the phenomenon is an “evolutionary adaptation” that is hard-wired into women, driving them to select men on the basis of their perceived quality.

which I will attend to in a moment. But what REALLY irritated me was this statement:

The female orgasm is the focus of much research because it appears to have no reproductive purpose. Women can become pregnant whatever their pleasure levels

Yeah, well, ejaculation and orgasm are typically linked in men, but they don't have to be. When there's orgasm but no ejaculation, it's called a "dry orgasm." When there's ejaculation but no orgasm, it's called ejaculatory anhedonia. Google the terms if you don't believe me.

And ejaculation could have evolved so that it felt every bit as good as emptying one's bladder or sneezing forcefully or smoothly moving one's bowels--but no better.

Seriously. Why is there this sense that men's pleasure is completely appropriate and natural and biologically wise, but women's pleasure is mysterious, weird and superfluous?

I mean, come on! Women risk a lot by getting pregnant. Historically, childbirth has been the primary cause of death among women. Providing some really great big payoff that makes you willing to engage in sex anyway, despite its risk, "appears to have no reproductive purpose"?

Then there is the accompanying article, which claims to explain Why women have better sex with rich men. It posits that

Many will object to the idea that women are hardwired to be gold-diggers. Perhaps, however, they will be appeased by the revelation that the same kinds of primitive forces are at work in men too. They may operate in different ways and produce different behaviour - but they come from exactly the same source: a genetic code fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution to make us seek out whoever offers us the best deal in life.

and begins its conclusion by stating

after millions of years of evolution and almost as many sex surveys, much about the female orgasm remains a mystery. The male version is pretty easy to understand; but the whys and wherefores of female orgasms, or lack of them, are not so clear.

Like these two articles did much to help clear things up! First of all, I am perfectly willing to believe that women partnered with rich dudes do indeed have more orgasms, just as I am willing to accept the first article's statement that "Previous research in Germany and America has looked at attributes such as body symmetry and attractiveness, finding that these are also linked with orgasm frequency."

But I've also read that deeply religious women in monogamous relationships have the most orgasms of all. Does that prove some "evolutionary link" between reproduction and believing in God? Or does it suggest a set of psychological conditions that make sexual pleasure easier to achieve--since we all know that the most important sexual organ is the one between the ears?

And where is the study that evaluates the effect of a woman's own wealth on her sexual satisfaction? Perhaps women who are independently wealthy have the greatest or the worst sex lives of all--who knows? The people who did this study sure as hell don't, because they don't appear to have asked the question. How many of the women in these studies are wealthy? Did any of the wealthy men who give their wives great orgasms acquire their wealth by marrying into it? Does something like that make any difference? Or--and this seems to be the assumption underlying both articles--is this a world where "wealth" is something only men can have?

Finally, despite the fact that these people are casting about in evolution for an answer that will explain why women are "hard-wired" to have more orgasms with rich men, there is an approach to embodiment and psychology which has long noted the (rather specious) connection human beings have made between money and sex, and that is the chakra system, which is thousands of years old. In Anatomy of the Spirit, Caroline Myss (whose books I once found very important for their emphasis on ethical rigor as a necessary aspect of proper human development) states that "Second chakra energy is extremely volatile because it seeks to create. It is also linked to the issues of physical survival, sex; power and money, the currencies of relationships." She continues:

Money, like energy, is a neutral substance that takes its direction from the intention of the individual. A more fascinating aspect of money, however, is the fact that it can weave itself into the human psyche as a substitute for the life-force.... The misperception of money as the life-force, coupled with a sudden loss of money, can activate any of several health crises: prostate cancer, impotence, endometriosis, ovarian problems, and lower back and sciatic pain. The fact that so many of the physical problems created by financial stress manifest in the sexual organs is a symbolic expression of the energy of the phallus...: money has been equated to a sexual force.

I used to have this series of taped lectures by her; in one, she states (roughly paraphrased), "If you won the lottery, you would suddenly feel incredibly sexy and desirable, even if you were ugly as a troll. if you got fired and lost your income, you would feel unattractive, no matter how gorgeous you might be."

All of which you might consider a load of bunk but it does suggest another way entirely of looking at this phenomenon that Dr. Thomas Pollet and Dr. Daniel Nettle say proves something about the evolutionary nature of female orgasm.

1 Comment

Re: Perhaps women who are independently wealthy have the greatest or the worst sex lives of all--who knows? The people who did this study sure as hell don't, because they don't appear to have asked the question.

Haha, excellent point! How come these people who do sex studies don't ask the interesting questions?

(Though, actually, that thing about monogamous religious women having the most orgasms is really interesting. I'll have to go back and read that article...)

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on January 23, 2009 7:20 AM.

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