The latest edition of In Bed with Susie Bright #208:
Interview with Dr. Elisabeth Lloyd, author of The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution
You've seen reviews and editorials everywhere about this new book— in which Dr. Lloyd proves that all the evolutionary research into the whys and wherefores of female orgasm has largely been a bunch of rubbish.
In her treatise, Lloyd shows how any link between female orgasm and fertility or reproduction is entirely androcentric posturing by the science establishment. As I asked her in our interview, "Didn't these guys talk to their own wives?" I've heard all my career from women who shake their heads and confess: "I had three children before I ever had a single orgasm."
The one theory Dr. Lloyd finds worth further pursuit is what is (unfortunately) titled "the Byproduct Theory," advanced by Donald Symons. Although the label makes women's orgasms sound like a can of Spam, I appreciate the actual scientific theory.... get a new name, I say!
Let me quote from the book to explain the byproduct theory:
"There is significant different between male and female orgasm, and it lies in the trait's past contribution to reproductive success.
"Symons chooses the example of the male nipple to make his point. Nipples are necessary to the reproductive success of any female mammal. (Milk substitutes were not available to our ancestors before the advent of agriculture, and thus could not have played a role in shaping the basic human form.) Therefore, there is strong and continuing selection pressure for female nipples. The male mammal gets nipples through sharing the same embryological form with female mammals. Thus his nipples are a byproduct of selection on the female mammal.
"Symon claims that female orgasm evolved in a similar way. Orgasm and ejaculation are strongly selected in men since they use the contractile pulses of orgasm as a sperm-delivery system. Strong selection on the male sexual tissues for performance of orgasm and sperm delivery is hence ongoing.
"Just as in the male nipple case, the opposite sex acquired the equipment in virtue of an early embryological commiemt. Females get the erectile and nervous tissue necessary for orgasm in virtue of the strong, ongoing selective pressure on males for sperm delivery system of male orgasm and ejaculation.
"To continue the parallel— I would add that either embryological bonus, the male nipple or the female orgasm equipment— can used by the gifted parties; males often inherit not only the nipple structure but al the pleasurable and sexual sensitivity of the female nipple, and they can make use of this in their sexual practices.
"Similarly, the females inherit the clitoral organ, the structural erectile tissue, and the neural pathways needed to experience orgasm and can make use of them in their sexual practices."
I found reading Lloyd's book as electrifying as reading my first copy of The Dialectic of Sex. I called her publisher the day I finished the last page and asked if I could interview her!
I've never seen a evolutionary account that proves the lack of connection between female orgasm and... mothering. Since our entire culture is bent on shaming women about their sexuality so that they will be virtuous wives and mothers, it's important to show that there is no evolutionary case that can be made for it... it is entirely ideological and manipulative.
Lloyd's candid and generous interview with me is something I know you'll want to hear if you've been intrigued with the book.
The very day we recorded our interview, that study came out about how women may or may not inherit their orgasmic ablity from their mothers. I thought it was a lot of hogwash-- another way for people to say, "Oh wow, it's out of my hands— I can't come, because mom couldn't come." I asked Dr. Lloyd what she thought of it, and as usual, she had a more careful reply:
Dear Susie, Here is a detailed explanation of the biology, since a lot of folks don't have the genetics background. This is actually a technical site, devoted to people in my field, which
is why I posted here. I'm entertaining the idea of starting my own blog, though....
At the end, I make Dr. Lloyd helps help answer this week's "Try This At Home" mailbag question, in which a new mom has trouble balancing work, nursing, and her decreased libido.
I'd love to know if you're read the book and have any comments... and if you listen to my In Bed interview with her, tell me what you think!