“A remarkably thorough work, entertaining and funny while demonstrating an impressive cultural range . . . unless you have zero interest in the subject (if you’re, uh, a monk, eunuch or Extremely Strange Person Indeed), I can guarantee you a fascinating read.” Nan Goldberg, Newark Star-Ledger
O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm
978-0-8021-4216-0 • $13.00 • Paperback • Nov. 2005
The definitive history of the human orgasm, of sex for pleasure as well as conceptionfrom prehistory to Viagra
“More than a hundred million acts of sexual intercourse take place every day, according to the World Health Organization. Calculations would suggest, then, allowing for the expanding world population since 98,000 B.C., that human beings have had sex some 1,200 trillion times to date. It cannot surely have been bad every time.” from the Preface
Orgasm is one of society’s most compelling shaping forcesand most of us probably think that we are living in its golden age. But are we? The history of the orgasm is as elusive as orgasm itself can be, for sex rarely makes it into the historical record. Now acclaimed British journalist Jonathan Margolis delivers an authoritative, witty, and stimulating mixture of fascinating facts and in-depth analysis of this most compelling and enigmatic of phenomena.
On the surface, there’s not much to an orgasmjust an explosive burst of 156-mph nerve impulses. Most people manage just twelve minutes of orgasmic bliss per year. Some never experience it at all. Yet the urge for orgasm rules much of human life, across national and cultural boundaries. How has the drive for pleasure, and the fear of it, shaped various societiesfrom Saint Francis of Assissi and the thorn bush, to “primitive” tribes who embraced maximum pleasure for both sexes? How much have we learned about female pleasure since the 1558 discovery of the clitoris? How much does the sensation of orgasm differ for different people?
Drawing on the orgasm’s biology, literature, anthropology, psychology, and technology, Jonathan Margolis delivers the final word on both male and female orgasm in an enlightening history that is a pleasure to read.
• The typical man or woman will spend 20 seconds a week in orgasm, which equates to some 12 minutes a yearor 10 hours in the average lifetime.
• The average male ejaculation contains 60% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
• A study of female students at the State University of New York in 2002 strongly suggested that contact with sperm through the vaginal walls acts as an antidepressant.
• According to a 2003 study in Melbourne, Australia, male masturbation substantially reduces the possibility of prostate cancer.
• The muscle contractions of the female orgasm last between 13 and 51 seconds, but women report that they perceive the sensation of orgasm to last between 7 and 107 seconds.