Rounding up & out

// 8 December 2008

Jezebel confronts the statistic that 40% of women cannot orgasm – and only 12% care about it:

The fact that many women are still so uncomfortable talking about sex and/or the idea of masturbation undoubtedly contributes to their lack of knowledge about their own bodies and desires. It would seem that, in this case, ignorance inhibits bliss.

Ultrabrown reviews a fantastic-sounding collection of speculative fiction, by Vandana Singh. ‘The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet’. jabberwock quotes from an essay Singh included in the collection, about just what speculative fiction (a term used to cover sci-fi and fantasy) really is about:

So much modern realist fiction is divorced from the physical universe, as though humans exist in a vacuum devoid of animals, rocks and trees. Speculative fiction is our chance to rise above this pathologically solipsist view and find ourselves part of a larger whole; to step out of the claustrophobia of the exclusively human and discover joy, terror, wonder and meaning in the universe…

…I said earlier that speculative fiction is about what cannot ever be, or what cannot be as yet. But it is also true that when it uses symbol and metaphor in certain ways, speculative fiction is about us as we are, right now. This may be the case even if the story is set on another planet, in another age, and the protagonist is an alien. Because haven’t we all felt alien at some time or another, set apart from the norm due to caste and class, religion and creed, gender and sexual orientation?

Wonderland considers a videogame that Warner Bros have released for free in Kenya, aimed at raising awareness on HIV. But. Well. There might be some problems with it:

The game itself sounds … a bit odd, as the site’s not that great at describing the gameplay: the women are “chicks”, the men are “guys”, and the objectives are either a very useful hand of cards, or a terrible commentary on sexual stereotypes – it’s not clear which from the copy.

If the five objectives (from increasing HIV testing through to all-out abstinence) are all applied to all five game characters, then there’s a proper challenge afoot. If the five objectives are in fact personal objectives of each character, then we’re seeing one of the two ladies with the Abstinence millstone, and the onus of Good Condom Use on only one of the lads. Not a good message at all.

Rhetorically Speaking points out the stupid reasoning in the Daily Mail’s and Spectator’s attacks on the Human Rights Act. The Spectator’s piece even argues that the HRA has “a judicial weapon in the hands of every minority group under the sun to beat up on the majority culture, turning rights and wrong and common sense itself on their heads and producing a culture of creeping illiberality and coercion”. FFS.

MADRE has an update on the Kenyan village of Umoja – set up some years ago as a community for survivors of male violence against women. Umoja is seeking donations for a project to improve the water supply.

Passive Aggressive Notes is one of my favourite time-suck blogs – today they post an email in which a pregnant woman is told off for showing too much cleavage. “so if you have a sweater or wrap, and can cover up that would be great,” the email says. To add insult to injury, it closes “If you have any questions, please come and see Linda or me :)”

Bet that smiley face made the recipient of this email feel better, hey?!

Lonergrrl reports back on the debate between Julie Bindel and Susan Stryker at Manchester University.

Scarlateen interviews Hanne Blank about virginity. I don’t agree with everything she says in that interview, but it’s full of interesting stuff – did you know guinea pigs have hymens?!!

My Beautiful Cervix is an amazing series of photos. A doula took a photo of her cervix every day during her cycle, and noted the changes.

Becca at Ramblings of Today’s Yoof is amused by an old episode of the Avengers.

Archaeologists are examining the site of the famous Greenham Common Peace Camp – via Philobiblon.

A Swedish university is developing technology that creates an interesting illusion: “Subjects perceive the bodies of mannequins and other people as their own”. Regina Lynn considers the possibilities for how this could impact sex.

Comments From You

Becca // Posted 8 December 2008 at 6:37 pm

Hey, thanks for linking to me!

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 8 December 2008 at 6:51 pm

The fact that 40% of adult women do not orgasm and yes it is ‘do not orgasm’ rather than cannot orgasm is not new. But taking this statistic on its own tells us nothing. We need to ask more detailed questions as to why 40% of women are not able to orgasm and why 12% of women care about this fact.

Perhaps and this is only theoretical, the 60% of women questioned who do orgasm do so because they ensure male sexuality does not supercede their own sexualities. Or, it may be that some of these women are in same sex relationships, or in heterosexual relationships where the phallocentric notion that intercourse = real sex is not enacted.

Human sexuality is complex and there is no such thing as a one size fits all – but under patriarchy there certainly is and it is the male heterosexist definition which supposedly defines appropriate human sexual behaviour and feelings.

Shere Hite has a wealth of evidence as to why so many women do not orgasm and it is not down to biological ‘dysfunctions’ but rather is due to complex issues such as how female sexuality is still ignored and defined from the male perspective. Deborah Tolman too has written extensively on female sexuality and why women and girls are taught their sexuality is inferior to men’s and boys.’ So, the statistic becomes meaningless unless we examine social constructions of what female and male sexuality supposedly means.

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