Building the Perfect Orgasmic Beast

A recent article posted on CNN by Ian Kerner poses the question “Are female orgasms a bonus?

While there are many who would respond with a resounding “Yes!, (including Kerner, who refers to them as a “totally awesome bonus), the question is one more of science than opinion “ regardless of how accurate that opinion may be.

Kerner states in the article “This question of whether the female orgasm is an adaptation or a byproduct came to the fore in 2005 with the publication of “The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, in which Indiana University professor Elisabeth Lloyd rigorously examined 21 theories that sought to promote the female orgasm as an adaptation and, ultimately, found all of them lacking.  Kener goes on to mention that Lloyd, in eliminating most, if not all of the arguments for an orgasmic evolutionary advantage, advocates viewing the orgasm through the lens of the byproduct theory.

Now, while I am no biologist, sexologist, anthropologist nor any of a number of ologists that have probably weighed in on this matter, it has been my experience that the perspective of a non-ologist is often beneficial in helping the ologists solve their scientific riddles.

And so, as the volunteer non-ologist,in the room,  I would like to interject my resounding “Not so Fast.

You see, from the non-ologist point of view, the inherent flaw in the question and perhaps Professor Lloyd’s book itself is basing any understanding of the female orgasm on the understanding of the male one.  I will go as far as to contend that this may be the exact reason why people are so mystified by them.  It’s like basing my knowledge of baking on my knowledge of NASCAR.  While there might be some thermodynamic corollaries involved of both, e.g. too much heat for too long in either arena is a bad thing, knowing how to bank a car around a curve at 220 mph isn’t going to get me a pan of brownies. Unfortunately.

I submit that rather than looking at them both relative to the other, it makes more sense to look at how the male and female of our species have evolved individually and how they fit together collectively.  After all, while humanity may hold a set of complex social, economic, cultural and individual goals on its own, nature’s focus is singularly simple: survive.

So to answer the question of why women have orgasms, I believe it necessary to set the Wayback Machine to “Long ago and ask of nature exactly how to build the perfect life-perpetuation beast.

I envision this scenario:

Early females of our species, having young to tend to and a home near food-bearing trees and shrubs to defend, are more gatherers than hunters. Having a need of a longer reach to collect fruit, nuts and eggs from nests in trees, they have evolved into an upright stance, gait and, by dint of that, less acute pelvic angle.  Add to that a vaginal canal that by necessity of successful child bearing must be of at least a certain width, and you have a fairly logical foundation for female anatomy as it stands today. (Pun not exactly intended.)

The male, on the other hand, enjoyed the lower center of gravity and greater balance and speed that a hunched stance afforded “ an advantage to a hunter. A position lower to the ground is more defensible and allows one to more easily protect the vital organs in the abdominal cavity. Consider also that in the hunched position of the male, the penis might be at least partially sheathed inside the body“ A convention still present in men in a moderately different form today.  (Think about it: the penis remains largely obscured, and displays usually to signal arousal or, more specifically, readiness to mate.) the protopenis might have been more slender.

If this picture of evolutionary and biological disparity between our protohuman ancestors is accurate, and assuming it would have existed for a number of generations until an upright stance became advantageous for both, I suspect that there would have been some shall we say, “unique challenges” to mating.  Challenges that in order to fulfill our survivalist’s destiny, must be overcome.

Consider, then the female orgasm.  Apart from its pleasurable qualities, it is, at its essence, a contraction.  A contraction is what your muscles produce to create tension, which creates resistance which creates grip and hold.  Consider the male orgasm.  When achieved, the penis of modern man goes flaccid.  In pre-evolutionary man, however, if the biological model proposed above is accurate, then the penis retracted. If it has not delivered all of its *ahem* payload prior to retraction, then the odds of conception are greatly reduced – prospect contrary to life’s mission of continued perpetuation.

There are numerous examples of nature maximizing chances for survival, (a condition under which the Monty Python crew were absolutely correct in there anthemic assertion that “Every Sperm is Sacred) and evolving a means to ensure that the penis is held inside the female long enough for as many sperm as possible to deploy is perfectly in keeping with nature’s tendency to stack the survival deck. And so the orgasm is born. (Often followed nine months later by the byproduct if nature has its way.)

Is this to suggest that the female orgasm is merely a vestigial remainder of a bodily function that is no longer necessary?  That when men and women leveled out evolutionarily, orgasms became a thing of less value or significance?  Quite the contrary.  If nothing else, I believe this speaks eloquently of the endemic and primal nature of the female orgasm and its ability to produce a deeply resonant sense of satisfaction and well-being in many women who experience them. If it’s activation was a method to assist in the perpetuation of life, then it stands to reason that the female orgasm is on some level life-affirming. (Ironic, considering its “little death pseudonym).

It is in this idea of a biologically hardwired affirmation of life that I believe to view a woman’s orgasm as merely a reflection of a male orgasm, or as a byproduct of nature having little importance is to do an orgasm and women a huge disservice.

I submit that the orgasm is an evolutionary advantage encoded in all genders as both an indifferently practical method of ensuring the perpetuation of life, and a gloriously pleasurable way of affirming it.  Everything exists in parity, after all, which almost precludes anything from having a singular purpose.

(Which may of course be the reason why Life needs vessels through which to perpetuate itself, but that is a whole other philosophical conversation best saved for another time.)

Whether or not we agree the orgasm is byproduct or part of our survival construction, I don’ think that anyone could argue that more orgasms, male and female, individually and together would be a perfectly awesome bonus for everyone.


GV Blogger, writer, armchair physicist, budding astronomer and superhero, Harlequinn parlays her observational skills into a series of musings on both stuff and whatnot. Secretly disguised as a mild-mannered staff member of an iconic Bay Area naughty bits retailer, she unleashes her internal chaos on the world via the written word in a sinister bid to become Supreme Dictator of All Realities. It is quietly whispered among those who know her well that she probably already is…

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