WTF is an orgasm anyway?!?

Our (internet) friend Lux made a phenomenal post about orgasms on the social media platform formerly-known-as-twitter the other day and it got me all inspired:

Now, Lux is famous for many things, but in our hearts we will always love her for her posts formerly-known-as-tweets and her work with Fleshbot back in the day.

Now, we barely post to twitter because folks are so mean and you know, Elon, but honestly, I live for these hot takes especially about sexuality.

The first thing that struck me about this post was Lux referencing the particular unknowability of so-called "female orgasms" because it actually implies that we know anything at all about so-called male orgasms, or that we know about orgasms at all! 

We don't actually know much at all about orgasms in any person of any gender, sexuality, or orientation. Like, basically nothing.

When I was in middle school - and bear with me because I went to a lot of VERY WEIRD SCHOOLS - I had to take religious education. My family is not at all religious, but damn, I still love a good hymn and I'm a sucker for any kind of bible story or Norse mythology or whatever. I love the weird-ass stories people construct to make sense of the world or justify their oppression of other people. People are such a trip!

One day in religious ed, Lauren (you know who you are) asked the very pious Christian teacher what the difference between an orgasm and an organism was. Now, obviously, Lauren was being a jerk (she really was kind of an asshole, but maybe she's nicer now?!?), but the teacher took it all in stride and explained that an organism is like a creature or animal, and that an orgasm was kind of like a sneeze - a build up of energy with a physical release.

To be honest, this is still the best explanation of an orgasm I've ever encountered and I'm literally surrounded by hundreds of books about orgasm and sex every working day. Heck, I've even read most of them!

Now, if you read the subject line, you're likely wondering what orgasms have do to with the hard problem of (meta)physics. Don't worry, I'm not gonna bore you if this isn't your deal.

Basically, the hard problem of metaphysics is that consciousness is essentially not observable or detectable. That is, you can study the brain all you want with the most sophisticated technology, but you can't "see" or measure thoughts or how consciousness happens in the brain. Which is to say, it is technically impossible to prove (or disprove) that anything is or is not conscious.

We tend to think orgasms that result from the stimulation of penises (or prostates) are super obvious and straight-forward. We stimulate a body part, a person ejaculates, convulses, and bob's yer uncle, right?

When we overlay that conceptualization of orgasms onto other types of bodies, it becomes clear that we know nothing about orgasms at all, really.

That is, a g-spot (or urethral sponge) can be stimulated until a person convulses and ejaculates, but most folks who squirt can actually do so without having an orgasm at all. AND lots of folks who have g-spot orgasms don't squirt, right?

Now, I don't wanna blow your mind (or other body parts), but here's the thing: anyone who has engaged deeply with The Multi-Orgasmic Man or Lasting Longer can tell you that folks with penises can also ejaculate (and have the corresponding muscle contractions) without orgasming.

So, if ejaculation in any body isn't a reliable indicator of orgasm, and body convulsions aren't a good indicator of orgasm, what is?

Further, our friends with spinal cord injuries know full well that a person doesn't even need to experience any kind of genital stimulation to experience an orgasm. People can have orgasms from nipple stimulation, face stimulation, and a former worker-owner here once made someone come by touching their knees (Don't worry - I'm not selling anyone out, this story was in a magazine once upon a time!).

And don't get me started on energetic orgasms! I'm loathe to reveal much of anything about myself, and I'm not really a somatic sex person, but lots of people can have orgasms without any kind of physical stimulation at all. This was an accidental discovery for me - I was just in bed by myself one night reflecting deeply on a recent date and I was able to have the same orgasm I had on that date by just thinking hard about it.

Which is all to say, the reason we can't really define orgasms or understand orgasms is because they have nothing to do with our bodies at all.

Orgasms only exist in the brain.

Just like with consciousness, orgasms occur in the brain. Sure, we can have physical manifestations of orgasms - like ejaculation and muscle contractions - but we can experience all of the pleasure of an orgasm without any stimulation of the body or physical response at all.

Really, the only logical conclusion is that orgasms are just one of the intensely magical things we just make up in our heads. Like politics or the colour red or love.

What this means in practical terms is that if you're struggling with your orgasms - maybe your orgasms are elusive, or you're not satisfied with your erections, or you have a disability that makes sex less accessible - you have as much control over your orgasms as you do your thoughts.

Your sexuality - and your orgasms - are all yours to do with what you want.

So, what is an orgasm? Orgasms are just a pleasurable build up and release of energy. Just like that religious ed teacher told us all back in grade seven. That teacher was truly doing the Lord's work that day.

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