Wildflowers

Perfect Buds

The If-Busters

Late Bloomers

Early Bloomers

Living-Togethers

Sexual Explorers

Sexually Dissatisfied Wives

Overcoming Rejection

Why Sacrifice Pleasure?

A Way of Classifying Sexual Identity

How Pleasure-Claimers Get Better Orgasms

Some Observations from the Survey

Conclusion: Your Sexual Turning Point?

"When I was thirty I spent a wild night in bed with a man I hardly knew. It was passionate, tender, exciting beyond anything I'd ever experienced-and, I didn't expect it to lead anywhere. That was a real turning point for me, admitting I'd never see him again. I left my hotel room the next morning feeling incredibly sophisticated because I had finally done what men do easily, I'd separated love and sex. After that I enjoyed sex more, and I was a lot more careful about who I loved."

-a fifty-year-old psychologist

            If we charted our sexual histories on graph paper, every woman's line would take a different course. While many individual milestones represent common experiences-first orgasm, loss of virginity, and menopause come easily to mind-even they can occur at wildly divergent points on each woman's personal map. Though hers is the bloom to which we relentlessly compare ourselves, we are not all perfect buds, tightly closed until adolescence is nearly over, then opening slowly under the loving heal touch of the right man, continuing to open predictably to full bloom throughout our thirties and fading gently in late middle age.

            In other words, there is no standard female sexual history line ascending slowly up the chart to a peak then descending slowly back down, though that is the guide by which most of us measure the correctness of our experiences and responses. In real life, some lines shoot straight up while others appear flat for years after the so-called budding; some have numerous ups and downs while others remain at a high, or a low, for long stretches. But, in every woman's sexual life, there are milestones beyond the obvious biological ones: The key experiences that, in retrospect, she can recognize as turning points that changed her behavior or her feelings about sex and love.

            Our sexual evolution is also affected by social trends and the prevailing myths of our times, by religious teaching and family upbringing, and by negative experiences such as child molestation, rape, abortion, and STDs, even by the childhood memory of having a hand jerked away from our genitals and roughly slapped. A woman's own biochemical development and her initial experiences with a partner have an impact on how she will evolve sexually. Sometimes, in fact, having the right partner at a crucial stage of development can be the determining factor in whether or not a woman will claim pleasure at that point.

            Though a man can be a help, we can't blame men when we fail to achieve sexual fulfillment. Too often, we don't tell them what we want and need sexually, and then we blame them for not giving it to us. Too often we give our power away to men, then blame them for misusing it. Pleasure claimers don't expect men to give them pleasure and they don't give their power away-and they make the best partner choices.

            I am reluctant to draw conclusions about female sexual evolution in general based on a survey of women who, in addition to indicating more than an average degree of openness about sex by their willingness to participate, also have higher levels of income and education (a great number of respondents are journalists, editors, television executives, and are in advertising or public relations) than a random sampling of women would have. Despite this particular bias, the survey results are reinforced by many similar studies conducted by serologists, sociologists, psychologists, and other professionals. And, the experiences of these women-regardless of occupation or sex education -are relevant to those of other women.

            Still, rather than draw conclusions, I will make the following observations:

THE TIGHT BUD THEORY OF FEMALE SEXUALITY DOESN'T APPLY TO ALL, OR EVEN TO MOST, WOMEN

Perfect buds composed only 23.3 percent of my survey respondents. Trying to fit all women into the same sexual evolutionary pattern is like trying to put everyone in a size six. It doesn't work. But, one's pattern of discovering pleasure does seem to be connected to sexual satisfaction in later life.

Perfect buds, for example, have a high level of sexual satisfaction, particularly in marriage, and are more likely than any other group to be happily monogamous wives. Perhaps that is true because they have a sense of "correctness" about their sexual development, which gives them the self-confidence to express their sexual needs and helps them make good choices in marital partners.

Early bloomers also report high levels of sexual satisfaction, though they are more likely to be happily single than happily married, more often sexual explorers than any other group except wildflowers. Perhaps their strong independent streaks are encouraged by the belief they aren't quite "normal" in their sexual development.

Wildflowers often alternate between flaunting their unconventional sexual behavior and punishing themselves for it. Perhaps their pattern reflects an internal war between their passion and their desire to fit the mold of traditional female sexuality. Wildflowers in later years, however, do report high levels of sexual satisfaction, and are, after age thirty-five, more pragmatic about partner choices, often making good late or second marriages.

Late bloomers generally report the lowest sexual satisfaction levels of all groups at all ages. They also are the least sexually pragmatic, clinging to love fantasies years after other women have recognized the, for the romantic illusions they are. Perhaps this group of women most deeply internalized the negative sex messages they received in childhood. When late bloomers do overcome the obstacles in their paths, however, they bloom brilliantly. Some of the most moving and erotic sexual therapy and reawakening stories came from late bloomers.

Next >>

Sexual Victims

Discarded Women

The Clock Women

Independent Women

Revirginized Women

Monogamous Women

Second-Chance Women

Surviving the Droughts

Wives Who Have Affairs

The Saboteurs of Pleasure

Conclusion: Your Sexual Turning Point?

The Women Who Doesn't "Need" an Orgasm

What Does She Know About Sex that You Don't?