Thursday, May 26, 2005

So, What's It For?

I really don't know anything about female orgasms. Wait, that didn't sound right. Well, it may be right, but that's not what I meant. I mean: I don't know anything about the biological signifigance of the female orgasm. Nor have I really had reason to. But, I came across this fascinating article in Slate about the recently-published book "The Case Of The Female Orgasm," and it captured my attention. Well, the attention of the nerd in me who gets caught up in epistemological knots and overanalyzes things.

Apparently there is some sort of divide in the thinking about whether or how the female orgasm has a purpose. The adaptationists believe that the female orgasm serves some sort of biological purpose, physically aiding a woman to conceive children. Then, there are the "byproductists," who argue that the female orgasm is kind of a beneficial evolutionary left-over with no biological purpose. Elisabeth Lloyd, author of TCOTFO, reviews numerous studies and concludes that the byproductists are right: the female orgasm is the cool run-off of evolutionary/developmental processes. Lloyd shows somewhat persuasively that a female orgasm is probably just fun.

I always assumed the "byproductists" were right. I never tried to draw a parallel between the male and female orgasm. In fact, I thought us guys had been cursed with the biological burden of mixing our self-perpetuation (through children) with a shorter and probably less satisfying orgasm (unless you're some sort of tantric master). I am actually now rooting for the adaptationists to be proven right. If the female orgasm does aid conception, it would -- in an abstract way -- bring a nice reproductive symmetry to male and female orgasms, albeit one of minimal utility unless people are having sex to procreate. And, there is the fact that I ultimately find meaning and connections a smidge more satisfying than randomness.


Blogger Magazine Man said...

"The Case of the Female Orgasm"? How come I never got to solve cases like that when I was a boy detective?

10:58 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

I'm probably more qualified to solve cases involving the whereabouts of the Loch Ness Monster than that case.

11:38 PM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

I believe that it's evolutionary run-off, too. It's hard to achieve compared with the male orgasm. I've also read evidence which I believe. But ours are truly longer and better.

Men do have more fun with every thrust, I think. Or at least they act like it. I wish I could experience every second of intercourse through a man's perspective. Could it be you guys are faking? That would be the ultimate and most ironic punchline in the world.

3:04 AM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

My theory: Once you imbue a creature with free will, you have to give it incentives to engage in whatever conduct you want it to engage in.

Evolution wants procreation. Humans, perpetually asking "What's in it for me?", will do what evolution wants only if evolution pays dearly for it. So evolution pays in pleasure.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Henry Baum said...

I disagree with Stefanie, which is weird because we've procreated. That's right, Stefanie's my wife. I've been wanting to say that for a while.

I always thought sex was better for women. And I've never faked it myself...Now you know too much about my sex life.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

I've known, uh, "dudes" who fake. Normally, its when they've been called back to active duty one time to many, and they are so desensitized, they do it to do it, and call it a night when they've run out of steam. Theatrically.

What a cool revelation, Henry and Stefanie. Right on. It is as it should be.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Spiral Stairs said...

Wow. I feel like we've just been granted a super-hot world premiere breaking news exclusive item! That's right, folks, you heard it here first.

Future Google searchers asking, "Who is Henry Baum's wife?", welcome!

12:37 PM  

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