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

Why Sacrifice Pleasure

"My husband  and I weren't along. We'd been trying to  hard to conceive a child, and there was tension between us so thick it was like fog. That month, he was out of town on business during my fertile days. I was  frustrated, angry he hadn't postponed the trip, and then he called from across the country. First, he sounded tired, then sexy. He asked me if I'd masturbated  today, and I realized he was masturbating  as we talked. So, I started touching myself. We talked each other to orgasm, and all the tension was gone between us. After that day, we made love like lovers, not reproductive machines. I'd still like to get pregnant, and haven't, but we've stopped putting that goal ahead of giving each other love and pleasure."

-a thirty-seven-year-old professional  woman

            Women in the pleasure claimers denial phase insist, "Other things are more important than sex."
            Those smug, self-righteous words mask the erotic bargain they're making with God or fate or  whatever. What they  mean is: "I am denying myself  sexual pleasure until I get whatever else I want."

            A fifteen-year study of dating college couples in the  Boston area about why couples do or do not marry highlighted one of the differences between the  sexes.  Men, while they wouldn't  marry for good sex alone, were not  likely to marry if they didn't  find high sexual satisfaction with the relationship. Women, on the other hand, reported  no such correlation  between high sexual  satisfaction and the decision to marry.

            Women, the study concluded, are willing "to trade sexual satisfaction for commitment."

            Unfortunately, too many women are willing to make  the trade even though  it can't be made. Sexual pleasure  for commitment  is an oranges-for-apples trade. It can't be done. Women have been encouraged to believed that limiting the role of sexual pleasure in their lives will enable them to achieve relationship, marriage, and mothering goals-as  if enjoying  sex and getting other  needs met were an either-or  proposition. Consciously or not,  women are influenced by  our  culture's two-hundred-year history of promoting sexual denial-especially by women-as a means of obtaining salvation. Our bedrock. American beliefs hold that sex is only good under certain limited circumstances and that denial  of our sexual desires is almost always  as the best way to handle them.

            Women who deny pleasure claimer limit the amount of physical pleasure they will allow themselves, as if this wearing of the erotic hair shirt will in some mystical, religious way grant them their other wishes. But, the penance isn't necessary. Enjoying sex and getting pregnant or establishing a relationship (or finding one, for that matter) aren't  incompatible goals.

            Unlike the  woman who has lost the capacity for pleasure through some traumatic event such as rape or contracting  herpes or being sexually rejected  by a spouse or lover, the woman who denies pleasure is still orgasmic in  some, if not  most, of her encounters. Certainly, she  hasn't cut herself  off from sexual relationships as the traumatized women have. She isn't foregoing sex, but, she's quick  to explain, having  an orgasm during  sex  isn't really  the point.  Rather, she's using sex as a means to an end, because she wants so much more from  her sexual relationships than erotic pleasure.  The nonsexual  needs weigh heavily on her, suppressing her ability to respond.

            Many women, especially women in their forties and fifties, told me they regretted not allowing themselves to be more sexual at an earlier age. They described having lived their lives as "good girls," putting their own sexual satisfaction at the bottom of their needs list, or focusing on getting a man, getting married, getting pregnant to the exclusion of pleasure-until something happened to make them realize they were missing an important part of life for no good reason. It made some of them angry at themselves or at the men in their lives. The majority, however, wanted to send a message to younger women: Enjoy yourself now.

            "I spent  the second half of my thirties trying to get married and or pregnant by two different  men," writes a forty-one-year-old television industry executive. "I was obsessively goal-oriented. Can you believe I actually begged both of these men  to marry me, and if they wouldn't marry me to let me love move in with them where I planned to trick them into fatherhood by getting pregnant 'accidentally'? I thought they would make 'good' husbands and fathers. Where was my head? How can a man you have to drag  kicking and screaming to the altar and tricks into fatherhood be a 'good' husband and father?

            "The sex was  only so-so with both of them. Looking back, I blame myself  for that.  I didn't tell  them what  I needed sexually,  because I was too afraid of scaring them away if I did. I thought I had to please them to get them  to marry me, and I thought pleasing them meant keeping quiet about my own needs. As time went on, I because  less responsive  sexually. When I got to the point in each relationship  where I was  begging  the man to marry me, I was no longer having  orgasms with him. Now I think I was nuts.  Then I though getting  pregnant was more important  than having an orgasm.

            "But something happened to connect me with my sensual side  again. I had a once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-forgotten sexual experience with an old lover who was in town on business. Maybe the sexual chemistry between us was  responsible for part of the fire-works, but I'm sure the sex was so good, at least in part, because I wasn't trying to get any commitment from him. I was in bed with him because  I wanted to be there for the moment, for nothing else  beyond the moment.  That night opened my eyes.  I'm not  getting sexually involved with a man again unless I want to  have sex  with him.  I don't care anymore about what kind  of kid they might  produce.  I'm  tired  of looking at men, at my sex life, as the vehicle for reproduction.

            "I'm not denying my sexual needs anymore."

            No, she  isn't married or pregnant yet.  Perhaps  she never  will be.  She didn't  get married or pregnant  during those five years  of "obsessive goal-oriented" behavior with men either. But, she  is enjoying  her sexuality now,  and she  didn't enjoy her sexuality then.  By sacrificing  pleasure, she  gained  nothing.

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?