Women Who Love Sex: Ordinary Women Describe Their Paths to Pleasure, Intimacy, and Ecstasy [NOOK Book]


Wonderful sex does more than melt both body and soul; it brings power, energy, and deep satisfaction to all aspects of our lives. In this unique book, women who consider themselves highly sexually responsive talk in intimate detail about what gives them the greatest pleasure. They redefine sex—based on how women really experience sexual pleasure—confirming what every woman knows instinctively, while creating a new language that every woman will...

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Women Who Love Sex: Ordinary Women Describe Their Paths to Pleasure, Intimacy, and Ecstasy

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Wonderful sex does more than melt both body and soul; it brings power, energy, and deep satisfaction to all aspects of our lives. In this unique book, women who consider themselves highly sexually responsive talk in intimate detail about what gives them the greatest pleasure. They redefine sex—based on how women really experience sexual pleasure—confirming what every woman knows instinctively, while creating a new language that every woman will understand.

Based on extensive one-on-one interviews conducted by Dr. Ogden with hundreds of women, this thought-provoking, wise, and unprecedented book transforms how we view sex by giving us new ways to think about sexual pleasure.

To learn more about the author, Gina Ogden, go to ginaogden.com.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Originally published in 1994 and updated in 1999, this classic exploration of terra femina redefined sex based on how women really experience sexual pleasure. These affirmative portraits, plus Ogden's commentary, broaden readers' understanding of female sexuality beyond stereotypes, whether from pop culture, sexology, macho patriarchy, or feminsim. The complex, regenerative power of pleasure that she describes offers women hope that it is good and healthy to 'love sex.'"—Library Journal

“Ogden’s celebration of female sexuality places her in the tradition of Lonnie Barbach, Shere Hite, and Betty Dodson.”—Kirkus

“An affirmative guide for both women and men, enriched by smart clinical insights.”—Publishers Weekly

"A masterpiece of affirmation—refreshing, moving, and extraordinarily liberating. For sexuality professionals, for our students, patients, and clients, for anyone who loves women, and especially for any woman who loves sex (or wants to love sex), Women Who Love Sex is the freshest breath of air to come along in years."—The Journal of Sex Research

"This book is a remarkable contribution to the literature on female sexuality. Ogden sets out to destroy stereotypes of female sexuality, whether they are found in pop culture, the world of professional sexology, or in current, politically correct 'feminist' ideology. She succeeds by situating women's sexual phenomenology within an appropriate, theoretical context and by substantiating her propositions with empirical support."—Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality

“This book explores a whole new landscape: the sexuality and sensuality of healthy women on their own terms—not simply in relationship to the male norm. You will find inspiration and affirmation in this book.”—Christiane Northrup, MD

“This woman-affirming book breaks new ground with its broad understanding of the nature and power of women’s sexual pleasure.”—Our Bodies Ourselves

"An innovative approach. A truly significant contribution to the way in which we think about human sexuality."—Wardell B. Pomeroy, PhD, coauthor of the "Kinsey Reports"—Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

"In my work with college women, I am witness to the wrestling match between young women's evolving self-definition and the relentlessly constricting messages imposed upon them by society. Women are warned about sexual negativity, but by refusing to acknowledge that women also posses the capacity for deep sexual joy, we have allowed only half the truth to be told. Women Who Love Sex tells the long-denied other half of that truth. Reading it was extraordinarily freeing, both for me and my students."—Mary Krueger, PhD, Founding Director of the Bowling Green State University Women's Center

"This is a warm, innovative book, full of sexual poetry from women's own stories about their lives. Ogden has an important message. Sex, especially woman-affirming sex, is about a whole lot more than intercourse and orgasm. It is about trust, sharing, spirituality, love, whole-body sensuality, and letting go of restrictive sex roles and oppressive sexual scripts."—Naomi B. McCormick, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Plattsburg, and author of Sexual Salvation

"Fascinating, affirming, and down-to-earth. Gina Ogden skillfully weaves together women's stories with insight and wisdom to explore the magnitude of women's sexual experiences—their power, importance, and connection to spirituality. This book will get a lot of women talking about sex!"—Charlotte Kasl, PhD, author of Women, Sex, and Addiction

"Gina Ogden writes with scientific accuracy, care, and passion, and her writing flows."—Ted McIlvenna, MDiv, PhD, President of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

"This superb and powerful book provides a format for women to understand their own sexuality from a woman's perspective rather than trying to fit into a model defined by men. It exemplifies why qualitative research provides important insights into the study of human sexuality."—Beverly Whipple, RN, PhD, President of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and coauthor of The G-Spot

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834825697
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/27/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 584,151
  • File size: 576 KB

Meet the Author

Gina Ogden, PhD, has had a distinguished career as a marriage and family therapist, sex therapist, teacher, researcher, and author. She is the author of several books, including Women Who Love Sex and The Heart and Soul of Sex, and has been a featured guest on numerous radio and television programs including Oprah. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

Opening Thoughts

What is sex? Ask this question of the next ten women you meet and you may find descriptions varying wildly. Depending on personal experience and on the current trend, you may hear that sex is an outflowing of passion, an affair of the heart, a comfort, a dalliance, an experiment, an economic necessity; or perhaps a social construction, a reproductive imperative, a need for intimacy, a search for love.

If you ask women to think beyond the conventional images of sex—the sensational tabloids, the glossy photos of bodies doing “it”—if you ask them to think about their own lives (or what they wish for their own lives), they will tell you that sex is more than just a genital act or a mad dash to orgasm. Often, they will tell you that sex is more than physical. If it is joyous and satisfying, women may say that their sexual responses open them to a sense of wholeness—a connection of body, mind, heart, and soul; a sense of oneness with their partners, with the universe.

There is no one all-encompassing reason for women to love sex. They love it because it helps them escape from their ordinary routines. They love it because it connects them with their inner beings and because it leads them to romance, love, and intimacy with partners, men and also women. They love it because it feels good, sometimes good enough to change the course of their lives.

When women say they love sex, this does not imply that they love it “too much.” Nor does it imply a polarization with women who, for whatever their reasons, love it less, or maybe not at all. There have always been women who love sex. They have loved sex even though it may have caused them heartache, and in many cases abuse, deprivation, even death. For most of the world's women over most of recorded history, love of sex has been accompanied by some kind of shadow—by control, objectification, abuse, abandonment. Too often, women have had to pay for their sexual pleasures with shame and ostracism, unwanted pregnancy and disease. The last twenty years have brought a raised awareness about sexual abuse and documentation about the victimization of women. Today’s news media abound with voyeuristic tales that have no redeeming features, of women violated by incest, rape, the deadly gift of HIV. While there is great openness to exploring in minute detail all of the pain attributed to sex (the televised Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky hearings are two cases in point), there is not yet a reasonable counterbalance—the permission to explore the positive possibilities of what sex means for women who love it, actively and safely.

Sexual energy is connected to the core of all of women's energies. Because it has been so regularly used as a tool for social control—proscribed, propagandized, rationalized, institutionalized—sex has political ramifications even at its most intimately personal. What women do with their sexual energy, their conscious and unconscious choices, affects them far beyond the moment. Think about it. For women to love sex and also love themselves—this creates a new balance, a new set of images about what is “real,” not to mention about what is “normal” or “hot.” For women to love sex and also define sex in their own terms—frame it positively, beyond ownership or violence or the porn debate—this shifts the sexual ecology by removing the historical filter of male domination.

But this degree of affirmation presents challenges. “How do I even begin?” women ask. They stumble over a learned doublethink that tells them the full scope and depth of their experience is not valid. The language we associate with “human” sexuality is the language of Man. It is the joke, the testosterone thrust, the so-called objectivity of science. Even more basically, for women to act honestly on what they want means reassessing their sense of affiliation. Just what does it mean to belong? Women are used to squeezing or stretching to adjust, used to conforming to attract, even when their partners are women. Our wishes for something more in bed never seem to be the right size, or the timing is off. We begin to question if we ought to want what we want, if our wishes are normal. Before we know it we can find our sexuality framed in the language of pathology or self-help. Women who are too randy, or too cold, or too demanding risk losing the right to relationship.

This book proposes a new theory of sex. Based on the premise that women's stories are valid, it takes women's stories seriously, as they are, without reducing them to statistics. Based on the assertion that sex begins long before women enter the bedroom and reverberates long after, it provides contexts for a full rainbow of positive experiences. It focuses on the meanings of sexual satisfaction as well as the searches for it. It offers images for sexual health and empathy, and focuses on the process of sexual imagemaking. The personalities in this book are women, the theory of sexuality is “human.”

What makes this approach drastically new is that it asks for your involvement. It asks you, the reader, to broaden your definitions of sex to include your own desires and behaviors. It asks you to envision a sexual response cycle that flows directly from (and to) all kinds of life situations rather than one that revs up with vaginal lubrication, climaxes, and finally rolls over on its side and falls asleep. It asks you to acknowledge the sexual intelligence of your entire body, even beyond the genital “homing sites,” and to explore the mysteries of a mind-body connection. It asks you to incorporate intimacy as a part of your sexual expression rather than apart from it. It asks you to factor in time, memory, all the particular conditions that make sex alive for you. In short, it asks you to ask your own questions and to think wholly and optimistically.

To each woman reading this book I want to say: Listen to yourself as well as your partner, if you have one. Tell the truth (where it is safe) and nurture a sense of humor. Your sexuality is layered, complex. It informs the whole of your being. Your innate cycles of response are not necessarily the physical ups and downs and explosions you've been led to believe.

To each man reading this book I suggest: Be open to surprise. You may not yet know that listening to women is in your best interests. Listen. You may find yourself opening your own capacities. Maybe you'll find pleasures you didn't know existed.

The new perspectives offered here are framed by stories of women who love sex, hundreds of women with whom I have talked and worked and empathized from the mid-1970s to the present day. In thinking about how most accurately to present all their voices, I reflected on their major message: Healthy sexuality is not a diversion, it is part of the whole story, integral to the quality of life, adding dimension and purpose. It seemed too piecemeal to pile up case studies—the usual lineup of subjects trotted out to illustrate a point—and too pruriently boring to report endless snippets of disembodied conversation that had little connection to the lives of the women speaking them.

I have chosen, instead, to use some poetic license to convey the spirit behind the words. Alice, Maya, Iris, Suzanne, Molly, and Rosa of the chapters that follow speak the insights and actual words of many individual women, while not necessarily being exactly like any one of the women. This device serves to protect the identities of those involved in the various phases of research. It also allows me to enter actively into their conversations—to show that researchers are human, too, and that the questions we ask affect the outcomes of research. In proposing a new theory of human sexuality, it is important to convey the notion that I was always there, with these women, exploring the depths of their feelings, the layers of their experience, rather than remaining as the “objective” observer behind a white lab coat and a computer. This conversational device helps equalize our roles, and allows glimpses of the complex lives that inform and are informed by the sexual energy of women who love sex.

A remarkable, shining fact remains through all these years of interviewing and thinking and writing, and it is the major theme of the pages that follow. Despite the risks and dangers, despite the possibility of brutalization somewhere along the line, despite the challenges, taboos, and misunderstandings, there are women who continue to love sex. Women for whom sex—by their own definitions—is a source of connectedness, health, and personal power. For whom sex is a route to ecstasy.

Who are these women? What moves them? What is it about sex that these women love? What do they have to teach us?

That is the story of this book.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Our Bodies Ourselves     ix
Preface to the 2007 Edition     xi
Opening Thoughts     1
Portrait of a Feminist Sex Researcher     5
Alice-Lust and Connectedness     25
Maya-Pleasure, Orgasm, and Ecstasy     55
Iris and Company-Adventures beyond the Jade Gate     89
Dr. Suzanne-Thinking Off and Other Thoughts on Sexual Imagination     111
Molly-Sexual Nurturing: The Dance of Give-and-Take     139
Rosa-Slouching toward Intimacy     163
Reflections on Self, Spirit, and Social Change     189
Afterword     197
Acknowledgments     203
Notes     207
Interview Questions Asked of Women Who Love Sex     219
Guided Imagery for Women Who Love Sex     227
Selected Readings     229
Index     237
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