Archives for posts with tag: Disorders of Desire

So much time, money, and effort is put into finding the G-spot. Men and women both are fascinated by the elusive G-spot. Men want to be masters of pleasure and give women mind-blowing sex that will make them sex gods. While women just don’t think they’ve had a “real” orgasm until they’ve had a G-spot orgasm.

There are countless books…

magazines articles…

and sex toys….

all geared towards achieving a G-spot orgasm. We are a culture that is obsessed with the G-spot, but why is it so desirable? In Disorders of Desire, Whipple and Perry are quoted saying the G-spot would offer a “deeper” and “less superficial orgasm”(Irvine 123). At the time, there was a fear that sex would focus more on the vagina and less on the clitoris, which would have supported a return to “patriarchal conceptions of sex, and heterosexual intercourse could maintain its privileged status as the ultimate sex” (Irvine 118).  While patriarchal conceptions of sex and the privileging of heterosexual sex still exist, the existence of the G-spot has not brought back the idea that women can achieve orgasm only through vaginal stimulation. Actually, many articles and how to’s advocate women exploring their body on their own first and trying to achieve G-spot orgasm through masturbation. I advocate anything that gets women trying to better understand their bodies. Similarly, these articles also argue that G-spot orgasms can only occur if a women is highly sexually aroused and feels a close connection to her partner.

One of the most interesting aspects about the G-spot orgasm is female ejaculation. Many of the book titles out there today concerning G-spot orgasms also sport the words “female ejaculation” in the title. While the main course is obviously the orgasm, experiencing female ejaculation is also an enticing aspect. An experience that allows a woman to ejaculate during sex is so cool! Not only does showcase yet another similarity between men and women, but is just a super fascinating experience.

However, not being able to achieve a G-spot orgasm could and probably does make women feel inadequate. All of these fantastic stories about amazing female ejaculating orgasms could make a girl wonder, “why can’t I have one?”.

By Kristy Wilson

I’ve known since I was in the 5th grade that my dad was a “sex addict.”  This may seem like adult information that perhaps a 10 year-old shouldn’t know about, but my parents weren’t perfect.  My dad didn’t perfectly fulfill his role as monogamous husband, and my mom didn’t perfect keeping secrets from her kids.  Whatever.  It didn’t necessarily scar me for life, nor did it necessarily fuck up my own sex life.  It did, however, help to shape my understanding of “good” sex and “bad” sex.  Learning that my father had a “sex addiction” also informed me that his way of having sex was not the “right” way.  Also, I had a certain understanding that it was not necessarily his fault.  He experienced childhood sex abuse and it in turn “caused” his sex addiction, or so I thought.  I remained under the impression for quite some time that my father’s sexual behavior was deviant; it wasn’t how he was supposed to have sex.  But something went wrong along the way and he developed this pathology.  Had nothing happened to him to cause him to develop this excess sexuality, then his sexuality would have developed “normally” into heterosexual, married, monogamy.   This was the impression I had.

Janice Irvine’s Disorders of Desire really opened my eyes to the historical and cultural construction of “sex addiction.”  In the chapter “Regulated Passions,” Irvine traces the history of how sex addiction came to be seen as a legitimate, medicalized pathology.  Irvine basically says that the labeling of sex addiction was a response to those who do not conform to normative, monogamous sexuality within heterosexual marriage.  If they don’t like to have sex the “normal” way, then something must be wrong with them, and there must be a scientific justification for such behavior.  Irvine argues, “It is not surprising that professionals in the late twentieth century would conceptualize concerns regarding sexual desire as major medical problems, since historically physicians have played a significant role not only in the management of sexual behavior but in defining the existence, appropriateness, and ideal object of sexual desire or passion” (176).  In other words, my father’s sexuality was inappropriate according to normative medical standards, which are always culturally subjective.  There was something “wrong” with him because he didn’t want to have sex with just my mother.

This whole idea of the “sex addict” is a means of further legitimizing heterosexual, monogamous, married sex as the normal and natural sexuality.  There was nothing deviant about my father’s sexuality.  His sexuality was just different from my mother’s sexuality, which fell in accordance with normative societal standards (that is, until she came out as a lesbian, but that story is for another time).  My father did make a mistake, however, by not informing my mother of his different sexuality to make sure she was okay with it, or she could have made the choice not to marry him.  His sex addiction did “hurt the family,” but now I realize that is just because we live in a society where it is expected to.  My dad died when I was 16, so I can’t tell him that I get it now.  I understand that his sexuality was not deviant or wrong, just different.  Sex addiction is a historical and cultural phenomenon, it’s not some medical disease that my dad suffered from.  He just had sex differently than he was “suppose” to according to modern Western ideology.  I can’t fault him for that. -Stephanie Halsted

One of the main reasons I got so interested in Gender Studies is because of my Uncle David. In 1990, at 30 years old, my uncle died from AIDS. I’m named after him (my middle name is David) and I am proud of having him as my uncle. Once I first started learning about AIDS, I was simultaneously understanding that my uncle was a gay man. Sexology was a very important aspect of the AIDS crisis that began in the 1980’s. In Janice M. Irvine’s Disorders of Desire, Irvine says, “…the AIDS crisis starkly delineated the ways in which ideology informs issues of sexuality, science, and medicine. First identified in the urban gay male subculture in the United States, the disease was virtually ignored by medical and governmental establishments, who saw it as affecting only marginalize groups…” (Irvine 124). The AIDS crisis became an event that will forever stigmatize gay people and fuel the fire of fear and rejection in homosexuality within our culture.

See asshole above.

Irvine also says, “…the AIDS epidemic represented a perfect opportunity for sexologists to consolidate professional expertise” (Irvine 125). Because the AIDS crisis was so fast developing, research on the disease and preventions against it became a huge issue for social conflict. Irvine even says that “AIDS had afflicted one hundred thousand people by the summer of 1989;of that number, half had died” (Irvine 124). My uncle soon followed that statistic. He was a proud gay man, and was living within the negative associations made between gay men and AIDS. The specificity of this disease should not warrant any further stigmatization against homosexuals within our culture. Hopefully one day AIDS will be cured and no longer seen as a strictly “gay disease.” Until then, no gay man, including my uncle, should ever feel shame.

– Sophie Reynolds

We all do it. We “do the do,” as professor Marlon Bailey says. But we are so shy to talk about anything involving sex. Why? Without sex, none of us would even exist. Yes I know, you just got the gross visual of your parents doing it. You’ll survive! Human sexual behavior and it’s implications within society was never fully explored until scientist Alfred Kinsey decided to bring thousands of peoples sexual secrets to the surface in order to evaluate commonalities between human sexual behavior.

Kinsey’s was a hardcore essentialist, and he used this for explaining sexuality in women. His essentialist point of view on human sexual behavior was both liberating and problematic for those who were affected by his research. In Janice M. Irvine’s Disorders of Desire, Irvine digs deep into Kinsey’s history and praises his research in saying, “…Kinsey’s empiricism and sexual enthusiasm were generalized to his research on women in a fashion that was truly supportive of female sexuality” (Irvine 40). To Kinsey, sexual behavior was a natural phenomena, and “natural” to him was anything that occurred. This embracement of female sexuality opened up doors to the understanding of female desires within the vast variations of human sexual behavior. Our culture was not as quick to explore female sexuality like Kinsey was. In fact, Irvine says, “It seems likely that the lack of public attention to his findings about female sexuality had more to do with sociopolitical variable than with Kinsey’s personal research interests” (Irvine 41). This lack of public attention stemmed from the uncomfortability of exploration of human sexual behavior within our culture. Socially and politically, Kinsey crossed lines. And if he didn’t do so, our culture could be even more quiet about sex than we already are.

-Sophie Reynolds

After reading Janice Irvine’s “Disorders of Desire,” I realized just how “the system” works. Not that I was clueless beforehand, but Irvine’s discussion (as well as ours in class) about the specific way in which someone seeking a transition to “the other” gender must go about the process is particularly telling.

Just as a recap, the process generally has to follow this outline:

1)      A person decides they want to hormonally/surgically alter their body

2)      They must feel awkward and terrible about this desire for some time before finally seeking out professional help.

3)      Then, they must say something to the effect of, “I feel like a man in a woman’s body” (or vice versa.

4)      Finally, the little lightbulb above the psychiatrist’s head goes off, all the paperwork is signed, and the individual is free to begin a highly regulated and medicalized process of transition

So what’s the issue here? The person obviously got what they wanted and everyone is happy, right? Maybe… But, by forcing this person to parrot a magic sentence in order to unlock the hormones/surgery they desire, “the system” is implicitly ensuring that the voices of trans-identified people are effectively silenced. What if Sue, for instance, really doesn’t “feel like a man in a woman’s body”? If Sue understands his/herself differently, nobody (outside of similarly identified people, friends, family, etc) will ever get to understand because Sue’s viewpoint isn’t “allowed” to be expressed. Moreover, what if a young person has these feelings? They’ll probably end up at a psychologist who will “explain” their feelings for them…

We can see where this is going...Hopefully Mark actually wanted to change his name and adopt the feminine persona...

As an aside, this reminds me of Foucault’s “monster.” Society has decided that transitioning is “ok” as long as it is done one specific way on very rigid terms. So basically, “we’ll allow you to break the cosmic law, just don’t shatter it.”

This process can be found in several other places in society. If you’re trying to get financial assistance from the government, you better be willing to jump through about 10 different hoops, and lay out your whole personal life for some random person’s scrutiny, or you’re not going to get anywhere. If you don’t tell them exactly what they want to hear, and devise a paper trail to mimic that, don’t get excited about possibly breaking through the poverty line!

This is not to say that requiring people to legitimate their desire for body alteration or need for financial assistance is inherently wrong, but the current system encourages (and sometimes mandates) people to strategically create versions of the truth that probably don’t fall in line with their actual situations. If we’re ever going to be able end discrimination against gender nonconforming people, or fix our terrible welfare system, we’re going to have to come up with a radically different way of delving into people’s personal lives.

-Mika Baugh

As a class we’ve discussed the concept of objectivity in the past alongside the guiding voice of Natalie Angier: in her work Woman: An Intimate Geography she often exposed the pronounced lack of objectivity in the work of scientific professionals and how this lack is often manifested in the way of valorizing one or another behavior, body, or way of being at the expense of others.  The issue of scientific objectivity is visited again in Disorders of Desire by Janice Irvine when she discusses the methods and principles Alfred Kinsey engaged in during his legendary sex research in the 1940s and 1950s.  As long as I have been aware of Kinsey’s work and its historical importance, I have conceived of Alfred Kinsey himself as though he were some kind of sex superhero, on a divine mission to increase popular knowledge about sex and liberate all people to enjoy their bodies and libidos.  To some degree, this perception of Kinsey may be in line with how radical he seemed in his own time; however, like most idealizations, this one of mine blinded me to the fact that Kinsey, while certainly progressive, was not necessarily perfect in his methods or attitudes.  As Irvine points out, Kinsey was highly dedicated to the scientific method and ideals of researcher-objectivity: “When Kinsey proclaimed his ‘objectivity,’ he was eschewing both the moralism of religion and the pathologizing tendency of the social sciences.  It was essentially, for Kinsey, a claim that he would make no negative judgments, point no fingers, and condemn no behavior,” (20).  However, while Kinsey appears to have been making every effort to achieve his goal of objectivity, he did not question some of his own underlying assumptions enough to avoid the bias that is inherent in almost all interpretation of research.  For example Kinsey never stopped to question his assignation of “normalness” (and consequently privilege) to white, middle-aged, male members of the middle class.  Irvine describes how this was manifested in his research method: “His staff, then, consisted of male, heterosexual, white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), since for Kinsey these characteristics represented the yardstick of normality,” (25).  Also visible as a manifestation of bias in his work are the strong essentialist themes which are evident when he hearkens back to human beings’ mammalian ancestry for (usually patriarchal) answers to the present day’s question.  This is demonstrated by Irvine as she quotes Kinsey’s work: “He frequently justified the double standard as a biological imperative: ‘The human male’s interest in maintaining his property rights in his female mate, his objections to his wife’s extra-marital coitus, and her lesser objection to his extra-marital activity, are mammalian heritages,'” (28).  These displays of (retrospectively) obvious bias in Kinsey’s work teaches a very important, if disillusioning lesson about accepting scientific research: even those researchers with the best intentions are not free from bias, and therefore no research- scientific, literary, or cultural- should be accepted without first questioning the objectivity of the presentation of the information.


By Rosalind Rini

I started reading Disorders of Desire by Janice M. Irvine which made me think about gender as an essence. Irvine discusses Kinsey and his work, but one aspect particularly caught my attention, Kinsey’s seven-point scale. I am sure you know what I am talking about, but until I read Irvine’s article I had no idea what this scale was. The scale is a homosexual-heterosexual continuum. Kinsey rated people based on both their physical and psychological experience.

This scale was used throughout the 40′- 80’s even though the Kinsey Institute found the scale to be useless. Kinsey hoped this scale would help other’s realize that people did not fit perfectly into heterosexual and homosexual categories. I the scare is ranked based on the following numbers:

0. Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual

I. Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual

II. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual

III. Equally heterosexual and homosexual

IV. Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual

V. Predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual

VI. Exclusively homosexual

I cans see how this chart can be useful. Number three would identify bisexuals, one would identify heterosexuals, and number six would identify homosexuals. Then the remaining few numbers would categories those who experience with their sexuality. I also see why this chart was disposed. Often people do not identify with one sexuality or can be placed into a category. Before taking this course, I always thought sexuality was binary. Honestly, I did not even believe in bisexuality, but now I am realizing just how unique sexuality can be. This chart was probably useful for society to understand that sexuality is not always black and white, heck it was useful for me. What I find even more interesting about this chart and Kinsey is that Kinsey “refused to talk about homosexuality as an identity or about homosexual persons.” Irvine writes on page 32 that Kinsey felt that everyone had the capacity to be homosexual. This simply means that everyone is homosexual in some way. This idea obviously conflicts with most ideas of the church and a lot of people would disagree. I absolutely agree with Kinsey. I think everyone could enjoy a sexual experience or have sexual feelings toward the same sex, but not everyone has to act on their feelings. I find it to be more true with females because society is more accepting of a female who is bisexual opposed to a male being bisexual. The lesbian friends that I do have, have no problem converting a “straight” girl to be with them, sexually of course. Once the converted girls are done being used, they often go back to being with men. This is easier for society to accept because men have always been more accepting of their girlfriends being with other women, the man might even be turned on by this idea. This is less likely to happen for a man because society thinks once you have sexual relations with one man then you are gay. I thought this to be true. It does not work that way. Men can also have relations with a man or two then happily spend the rest of their life with a woman. I rarely hear about a woman who is marrying or dating a guy who used to date other men. I guess it is just one of those many double standards. Anyways, back to the quote, I think Kinsey’s reasoning behind not talking about homosexuality ties in with Grasz’s idea of sexuality being an essence. Each person has their own idea of what sexuality is. I think everyone can find something different about their sexuality or gender that is different from another person. I included this article that gives some ideas about gender being an essence.


-Brent Lopez