Evolutionary Mystery of Female Orgasm

David Barash

Believe it or not, there may be a connection between the mating behavior of grizzly bears and the evolution of the human female orgasm …

In his poem “Of the progress of the soul,” John Donne once eloquently described a young lady he admired (one Elizabeth Drury), by observing that

“Her pure, and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought
That one might almost say, her body thought.’

Of course, bodies don’t actually think. Brains do. And should bodies think, they can be expected to do so in silence, as befits good thought. Mr. Donne, moreover, a now-dead white male writing four centuries ago, was probably not gesturing toward female orgasm in any case. By contrast, the 20th-century writer and feminist icon Anaïs Nin definitely was, when she referred to “Electric flesh-arrows . . . traversing the body,” noting how “a rainbow of color strikes the eyelids. A foam of music falls over the ears. It is,” she announced, “the gong of the orgasm.”

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