the most important thing students learned in my 'sexual response' lecture

Last night was my Sexual Response lecture, in which I present the ideas of responsive desire, nonconcordant arousal, and non-penetrative orgasms. I consider it the intellectual core of the class.

And then I asked my students to write down one important thing they learned, and they said things like this:

Genital concordance. This is something I have really struggled with – the mental disconnect with my body’s physiological response to sexual arousal. Learning about this today made me feel so much better about my body and my fear of never be able to orgasm. From now on I will not be coaxed into a sexual act simply beacuse my body “seems” as though I want to.

I learned that women’s sexual response does not directly correlate to their desire. This was really important for me to learn because it makes sense of a lot of kind of stinky sexual experience that I can’t explain why I was wet for, and the confusion and non-trust all make more sense now. Thank you.

I have been told by partners that I must not want sex because I am dry so I have made myself think “maybe I don’t want sex.” Now I know that having arousal non-concordance is not a bad thing and it does not mean I am not aroused. Learning about this has made me realize I need to evaluate my emotions and brain instead of going off what my genitals are doing.

I realized that I’ve subconsciously believed that the response of your genitals was the result of what you were feeling. However, one point that you said really stuck with me: sexual response is how you FEEL. This means that what happens with your body is not necessarily what you feel.

One thing I learned tonight was arousal non-concordance. During the time I was sexually active, there were times when my “body” was read for sex but my “mind” wasn’t in the mood for it. This just shows that sex is actually more “mental” than physical, something many people do not understand.

Thanks for talking about non-concordance. I mentioned my love of lube to a friend who was a peer sexuality person and she said I shouldn’t have sex if I wasn’t wet – I didn’t agree, and explained why to her, but having a better understanding helps so much. I feel better!

When my boyfriend tries to have sex with me and I want to but I’m not wet, he stops because he doesn’t think I’m aroused – either that or he keeps massaging me to get me aroused. I don’t have a problem – we just need lube.

Other folks also mentioned spectatoring (“…it occurs for me ALL THE TIME. I didn’t know this was a common thing that had a name. Knowing that it’s an entire concept makes it easier for me to try to fight it”) and non-penetrative orgasms (“It has always been my perception that female orgasms are tiered, like clitoral stimulation orgasms were okay but that orgasms achieved through vaginal penetration were the ultimate goal”), but non-concordance was the main theme.

All this, and we still discussed how gender-based difference emerge from the interaction of the dual control mechanism with the environment – neither nature or nurture but always and precisely the structure of the interaction of the two.

This is why I do the “one important thing” assignment. It keeps me grounded in what matters most.

For all the complex and important questions about gender, culture, and all the rest of it, it comes down to teaching students that, despite their culture’s vested interest in making them feel broken, diseased, unlovely, and unlovable, they are in fact fully capable of confident, joyful sex. Even if they don’t yet feel that way, they are already sexually whole, healthy, beautiful, and loveable.