As I’ve mentioned previously, about every six months someone will link to a Cosmo article, and I’ll grudgingly read it, hoping against all evidence that their usual approach has been replaced with something more substantive.
This time, the title “Why Guys Get Turned on When You Orgasm, and Why That’s a Bad Thing” seemed to indicate that it was directly related to a piece I had written about before. In the previous article, it was proposed that a man should care about making sure a woman orgasms during sex because “You = your orgasm” in the pithy equation proposed by the author.
I tend to think that’s a very dangerous belief. When we regard the achievement of orgasm as the fulfillment of what it means to be human, and learning how to provide women with orgasms via clitoral stimulation as a critical part of working for women’s equality, then we’ve just perpetuated the myth that the value of women is primarily in their sexuality and specifically in the transient pleasure it brings them.
As we’ve seen over the past few decades, this is not a belief that seems to do much to make practical strides in leading women to be valued more. In fact, if anything, it seems to be the opposite trend. But in the newer article, an important caveat is brought to light for those who do believe the myth.
The core insight about how men tend to make women’s pleasure about themselves is a valuable one. There’s an underlying ethical principle that’s important to understand, which is that when we make doing something for another person about ourselves, it’s no longer virtuous.
For example, if I give money to homeless people while walking around with a camera crew behind me so they can include the footage in my political campaign video, that’s not virtuous. It might benefit the individuals who receive the money (a very good thing!) and it may be very smart political campaigning, but it does not build the habits of loving others which lead us to the true fulfillment we most need.
Instead, it builds the habits of regarding other persons (often not consciously) as the objects which are used to meet our own goals. And treating persons as objects is inherently degrading.
This same principle applies when men use women to achieve their own ends, even when they provide those women with temporary pleasures in the process. These men are degrading the women they provide pleasure to briefly. That should be enough of an incentive to stop doing it, but there are also other reasons for men to stop degrading women in this way.
These men are losing out on an opportunity to build genuine habits of loving another person. And instead, they are training themselves to live in such a way that the true fulfillment they most need, the fulfillment reached at the heights of sacrificial love, can never be reached.
But there is hope. It is possible to re-shape our attitudes, to regard women as having intrinsic dignity, and to build habits that allow us to learn to love radically. Get started today.