In Defense of Pleasure

In Defense of Pleasure

The need for the female orgasm to come to the forefront of our cultural sexual dialogue


As all psychology, sociology, and education students know (hopefully), people learn not only from classrooms, but from friends, television, comments on the street and everything else that can collectively be referred to as “noise.” Current research, much to parents’ dismay, is showing that how much you read to your child has less effect on test scores than what their friends tell them. Again, it is the sum of the “buzz,” the “noise” around us, including formal education, from which we learn. Those students in marketing and communications are learning about this “buzz” – how can you slightly change the “chatter,” so that something is all of a sudden popular? Well, I don’t know the answer. But, if you do, call the Women’s Resource Center at 503-725-5672, because what we want to change is the silence around female orgasms.

Most women are well into their 20s before they experience an orgasm. Compare this to nearly any 15-year-old boy having five a day. It’s true that women have it good in many ways. We have no refractory period, meaning we don’t have to recharge after orgasm and that the possibilities are endless. But, for many women it is later in life (or sadly never) that they learn the pleasures of their own bodies.

Here is just one example, from one of the authors of this piece, of how this lack of “noise” around female orgasms can confuse human relations: “In junior high health class the teacher, Mr. Smiley, answered a student’s question about orgasm by explaining that orgasms are when a man ejaculates. Later I heard someone talking about women cumming and I could not figure out how this worked. I got up the courage to ask a friend. She answered, ‘Well, women have lubrication. That’s women cumming.’ This definition stuck with me for an embarrassingly long period of time. I thought a woman’s climax was just when things seemed especially more fun or exciting, like the climax of a book or film. Meanwhile, I also tried to understand how other women experienced sex. I could never figure out how two women having sex with each other would know when it was over. There would be no fireworks, no visible exclamation point (at this point female ejaculation is not even part of the equation).”

All of the confusion and lack of understanding about our own and others’ sexuality and the satisfaction missed, could be avoided, if only we talked more about female orgasms, if the only reference to masturbation wasn’t pumping your fist in front of your crotch, if only we spoke openly.

Women, please talk. Whether you are having sex, or not, if you have a partner, or not, whether you wait for your one love, or not – talk about women’s sexual pleasure. Put down Cosmo’s top ten ways to please a man – WE GET IT ALREADY! Find out about pleasing yourself.


Aimee Shattuck has been the Coordinator of the Women’s Resouce Center since graduating from PSU’s Graduate School of Social Work in 2001.She has taught classes at PSU in University Studies, Community Health Education and Women’s Studies.Amy Theberge is one of the student coordinators at the Women’s Resource Center and is currently working on a Community Health degree. She has worked as a peer educator on the issues of safer sex and HIV/AIDS and uses her education and organizing skills daily at the Women’s Resource Center.The Women’s Resource Center is located in the lower level of the Montgomery Building. It is a great place to come hang out, do homework, look for resources or check out a book or video. Students are always welcome to volunteer or to attend one of our many events, groups,classes or workshops. Specific services are offered for returning women students and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.Get more information at