It's official: men are brutes, women are a higher life form

The female orgasm

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There was an article in this newspaper yesterday about a woman who once suffered involuntary orgasms. Inevitably, like all newspaper articles concerning the female orgasm, it was illustrated by that scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally in which Sally demonstrates to Harry - in a packed diner - how the female climax can be faked. (It's an interesting feature of our relative attitudes to these things that there is no corresponding image that could accompany a piece concerning the male orgasm. But if I'm wrong, I do not wish to be corrected.)

Now, many people - mostly younger men - have orgasms when they are not exactly ready. Time, or the recital of the England World Cup squad, usually overcomes this problem. But that is not what we are talking about. No, imagine for a moment what it would be like to have orgasms completely out of the blue - WHAM - just like that, with no warning, and no matter what you were doing.

It would be inconvenient, would it not? Experiencing an orgasm might be difficult to disguise from fellow passengers in lifts and trains, or from colleagues at work. The tell-tale flush, the stertorous breathing, the sudden cries of "Oh God, darling, I love you!" might each individually not betray you, but combined would certainly raise eyebrows. Friends might stop inviting you to their dinner parties, for fear of what might happen as you were introduced to Germaine Greer, say, or Trevor Phillips.

The embarrassment, however, would be as nothing compared with the considerable dangers. It is perilous enough to sneeze while driving on the motorway: the eyes close for a fraction of a second, the body convulses, and - a- tishoo - bang, into the back of that Lada. So what would happen were you to find yourself in the throes of an unexpected sexual experience - involving (depending on gender) rapid tumescence, vast stimulation and climax - hardly bears thinking about. One thing alone is certain: were the condition to become widespread, many more cars would display stickers bearing the legend, "keep your distance" .

It is little wonder, then, that the woman concerned (let us call her Ms X) eventually went to her doctor, and - some time afterwards - appeared as a case discussed in the latest edition of The Lancet. For what the boffins discovered when they scanned Ms X's brain was very interesting. As our own health editor explained, she had a "deformed artery in the right temporal pole of the brain". This had ruptured, causing epilepsy, which in turn had triggered the orgasms. This knowledge meant that doctors could more accurately pinpoint the part of the brain that controls the female orgasm. And it is located in one of the most sophisticated and evolutionarily advanced bits.

But the male orgasm isn't. That is (for want of a better word) the rub. For, in the single known case of involuntary orgasm in a man, the problem was clearly linked back to the hypothalamus. And, in brain terms, apparently you don't get much more primitive and basic than the hypothalamus. We blokes had hypothalami when we were fish.

Are you getting this? We should conclude from all this that the male orgasm is ancient, animal, and instinctive. A necessary occurrence, it is no more a product of consciousness than is peristalsis. It is a thing of caves and sloping foreheads, a necessary and unlovely thing, that can be invoked without disturbing the intellect. This explains why boys can have orgasms in their sleep.

The female orgasm, on the other hand, is a product of evolution, of civilisation almost. It is not essential for procreation, but it requires subtle interaction between the brain and the body. Indeed, it is - as the deputy editor remarked to me yesterday - of a "higher order".

This raises two thoughts. Well, one question and a thought.

The question is, why did the female orgasm develop at all? What is it for? Most physiological changes to the human body have happened for a reason, so what's the reason here? Was the problem that, as humanity evolved, and poetry, music and art were first developed, the sensitive females found themselves extremely unwilling to submit to the animal ministrations of a whole lot of self-pleasuring males? Was the orgasm thus conjured into being by a Nature that regarded it as a way of giving women a stake in intercourse?

And here's the thought. What if the female orgasm is still evolving? The male one, stuck down there in the horrid old hypothalamus, is becalmed sometime in the Mesozoic period or whatever, while the female one could be becoming ever more complex, culturally differentiated and - let's face it, given world overpopulation - bloody difficult to provoke. One day, only male novelists, scientists or journalists of exquisite manners and enormous beauty, will be able to induce orgasm externally in the most ordinary woman. Which may be fine for me, but is a bit rough on the rest of you.

While you digest that one, I'd better tell you how Ms X's story ended. The medics prescribed a drug called Carbamazapine, used in the treatment of epilepsy, and soon the unwanted comings went. She is said to be much happier and calmer.

But, given where we may all be heading, wouldn't it now be appropriate for scientists to search for and discover a drug to produce the opposite effect? It could be of immense benefit to many couples - especially in these days when we all have so little time - if they had access to something that might speed up the female response. I am assured, by those that know, that it would certainly beat the Squeeze Technique.

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