The uncomplicated truth about women’s sexuality | Sarah Barmak

The uncomplicated truth about women’s sexuality | Sarah Barmak

Translator: Leslie Gauthier
Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz In our culture we tend to see sex as something that’s more important
to men than it is to women. But that’s not true. What is true is that women often feel
more shame in talking about it. Over half of women quietly suffer
from some kind of sexual dysfunction. We’ve been hearing
more about the orgasm gap. It’s kind of like the wage gap
but stickier … (Laughter) Straight women tend to reach climax less than 60 percent
of the time they have sex. Men reach climax 90 percent
of the time they have sex. To address these issues,
women have been sold flawed medication, testosterone creams … even untested genital injections. The thing is, female sexuality
can’t be fixed with a pill. That’s because it’s not broken: it’s misunderstood. Our culture has had a skewed
and medically incorrect picture of female sexuality going back centuries. If over half of women
have some kind of sexual problem, maybe our idea of sexuality
doesn’t work for women. We need a clearer understanding
of how women actually work. I’m a journalist, and I recently wrote a book about how our understanding
of female sexuality is evolving. So sexuality itself was defined
back when men dominated science. Male scientists
tended to see the female body through their own skewed lens. They could’ve just asked women
about their experience. Instead they probed the female body
like it was a foreign landscape. Even today we debate the existence
of female ejaculation and the G-spot like we’re talking about aliens or UFOs. “Are they really out there?” (Laughter) All this goes double for LGBTQI
women’s sexuality, which has been hated
and erased in specific ways. Ignorance about the female body
goes back centuries. It goes back to the beginning
of modern medicine. Cast your mind back to the 16th century, a time of scientific revolution in Europe. Men of ideas were challenging old dogmas. They were building telescopes
to gaze up at the stars. We were making progress … sometimes. You see, the fathers of anatomy — and I say “fathers” because,
let’s face it, they were all dudes — were poking about between women’s legs and trying to classify what they saw. They weren’t quite sure
what to do with the clitoris. It didn’t appear to have
anything to do with making babies. The leading anatomist at the time declared that it was probably
some kind of abnormal growth — (Laughter) and that any woman who had one
was probably a hermaphrodite. It got so bad that parents would sometimes
have their daughter’s clitoris cut off if it was deemed too large. That’s right. Something we think of today
as female genital mutilation was practiced in the West
as late as the 20th century. You have to wonder: if they were that confused
about women’s bodies, why didn’t they just ask women
for a little help? But you must be thinking,
“All that was history. It’s a different world now. Women have everything. They have the birth control pill, they have sexting
and Tinder and vajazzling.” (Laughter) Things must be better now. But medical ignorance
of the female body continues. How many of you recognize this? It’s the full structure of the clitoris. We think of the clitoris
as this little pea-sized nub, but actually it extends
deep into the body. Most of it lies under the skin. It contains almost as much
erectile tissue as the penis. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? It looks a little like a swan. (Laughter) This sculpture is by an artist
named Sophia Wallace as part of her “Cliteracy” project. (Laughter) She believes we need more “cliteracy,” and it’s true, considering
that this structure was only fully 3-D mapped
by researchers in 2009. That was after we finished mapping
the entire human genome. (Laughter) This ignorance has real-life consequences. In a medical journal in 2005, Dr. Helen O’Connell, a urologist, warned her colleagues that this structure
was still nowhere to be found in basic medical journals — textbooks like “Gray’s Anatomy.” This could have serious
consequences for surgery. Take this in. Gentlemen: imagine if you were at risk
of losing your penis because doctors weren’t
totally sure where it was or what it looked like. Unsurprisingly, many women aren’t too clear
on their own genital anatomy either. You can’t really blame them. The clitoris is often missing
from many sex-ed diagrams, too. Women can sense that their culture
views their bodies with confusion at best, outright disdain and disgust at worst. Many women still view their own genitals
as dirty or inadequate. They’re increasingly
comparing their vulvas with the neat and tiny ones
they see in pornography. It’s one reason why labiaplasty
is becoming a skyrocketing business among women and teen girls. Some people feel
that all this is a trivial issue. I was writing my book
when I was at a dinner party and someone said, “Isn’t sexuality
a first-world problem? Aren’t women dealing with more
important issues all over the world?” Of course they are. But I think the impulse to trivialize sex
is part of our problem. We live in a culture
that seems obsessed with sex. We use it to sell everything. We tell women that looking sexy is one of the most important
things you can do. But what we really do is we belittle sex. We reduce it to a sad shadow
of what it truly is. Sex is more than just an act. I spoke with Dr. Lori Brotto, a psychologist who treats
sexual issues in women, including survivors of trauma. She says the hundreds of women she sees
all tend to repeat the same thing. They say, “I don’t feel whole.” They feel they’ve lost a connection
with their partners and themselves. So what is sex? We’ve traditionally defined the act of sex as a linear, goal-oriented process. It’s something that starts with lust, continues to heavy petting and finishes with a happy ending. Except many women
don’t experience it this way. It’s less linear for them
and more circular. This is a new model
of women’s arousal and desire developed by Dr. Rosemary Basson. It says many things, including that women can begin
an encounter for many different reasons that aren’t desire, like curiosity. They can finish with a climax
or multiple climaxes, or satisfaction without a climax at all. All options are normal. Some people are starting to champion
a richer definition of sexuality. Whether you identify as male,
female or neither gender, sex is about our relationship
to the senses. It’s about slowing down, listening to the body, coming into the present moment. It’s about our whole health
and well-being. In other words, sex at its true breadth isn’t profane, it’s sacred. That’s one reason why women
are redefining their sexuality today. They’re asking: What is sex for me? So they’re experimenting with practices
that are less about the happy ending — more about feeling whole. So they’re trying out
spiritual sex classes, masturbation workshops — even shooting their own porn that celebrates the diversity
of real bodies. For anyone who still feels
this is a trivial issue, consider this: understanding your body
is crucial to the huge issue of sex education and consent. By deeply, intimately knowing
what kind of touch feels right, what pressure, what speed, what context, you can better know
what kind of touch feels wrong and have the confidence to say so. This isn’t ultimately about women
having more or better sex. It’s not about making sure
women have as many orgasms as men. It’s about accepting yourself
and your own unique experience. It’s about you being
the expert on your body. It’s about defining pleasure
and satisfaction on your terms. And if that means you’re happiest
having no sex at all, that’s perfect, too. If we define sex as part
of our whole health and well-being, then empowering women
and girls to fully own it is a crucial next step toward equality. And I think it would be
a better world not just for women but for everyone. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The uncomplicated truth about women’s sexuality | Sarah Barmak

  1. Women bore me, they think they're superior. Men are never good enough. No wars if women ruled the world Eh … women give birth to everyone; what does that specifically say about women and mothers and exactly who isn't good enough for who?
    You're welcome.

  2. "Thats's right! Something we think of today as female genital mutilation, was practiced in the west, as late as the 20th century." Cool story bro! Theres still MASS male genital mutilation being traditionally practiced at hospitals and by medical professionals and priests TODAY. For some reason it's called circumcision, not male genital mutilation.

  3. Hate it when Ted bring journalists. I want to see people who have been dedicating their lives (for many many years) to better understand something and hear their findings !

  4. A wonderful talk. I hope it leads to a new normal. One thing on anatomy might have been brought out. Female prostrate was thought not to exist until a few years ago. But then a complex of glands and a little bladder were found on the other side of the vaginal wall. A branch of the clitoris nerve structure runs to this group. It enervates the G spot which is a root structure to the ensemble. The bladder receives fluids from glands that become female ejaculate. Thus it was propose that the ensemble is a female equivalent to prostate. I don't know where this all stands now. But given that the whole structure was relatively unknown before, it seems similar to her discussion of the clitoris.

  5. Love the sculpture from the Cliteracy Project. Someone should turn it into a pin. I would proudly wear one.

  6. eaasy, collective power = higher satisfaction for women.. the higher the collective power of the collective she is a part of, the higher stimulus of the alpha signals in her brain triggering the sexual bodily reward of the "Winners" of humanity.. which the brain only gives to those worthy.. its not really that hard, just use your eyes and senses. That brain reward can be tweaked by "Fake it till you make it" thinking highly about yourself also.
    (PS. this is also why some conservatives live in a fantasy bubble)

    this ted talk was very weak, only highlighting ancient flaws of men.. Im pretty sure women were more satsified back then anyways.. lol.

  7. We don't tell woman that being sexy is 1 of the most important things they could do. That's coming from a lesbian jealousy.

    We tend to tell woman to address a modest and not scantily clad. Nobody but lesbians will claim that society things women's bodies are disgusting in comparison to men.

  8. We don't tell woman that being sexy is 1 of the most important things they could do. That's coming from a lesbian jealousy.

    We tend to tell woman to address a modest and not scantily clad. Nobody but lesbians will claim that society things women's bodies are disgusting in comparison to men.

  9. This is an old radical feminist lesbian mythology coming to flourish because misandry has been marketable lately

  10. This is an old radical feminist lesbian mythology coming to flourish because misandry has been marketable lately

  11. Its lesbians that also over extrapolate their experience onto other women as if they are the same and women are a hive mind.

  12. Its lesbians that also over extrapolate their experience onto other women as if they are the same and women are a hive mind.

  13. What an absolute disaster of a talk. How is this even on ted. She’s talking absolute nonsense. A lot of guys I know can tell you a lot about woman’s sexuality. It’s not the 1950s anymore.

  14. I did some digging because it struck me that we did not know the full structure of the clitoris until 2009. I found that this is actually untrue. In fact they had that structure long before hand. This finding in 2009 was not that structure but instead the way that structure surrounds the vagina which indeed helps us understand better.. But she actually lied about that one. I could smell it from a mile away.. We have know sooo much about anatomy for a long time, there's no way we overlooked this. We know every bone, muscle and even how microscopic cells and neurons function(well before 2009).. There is absolutely no way this was overlooked for so long.

  15. Sadly this uninformative mishmash of vagueness: history, philosophy and political gender ism on the most trivial level, is what you get when an unqualified journalist enters a subject they don't understand either on a physiological level or a psychological one…WHO selected this person for such a TED talk? Being female just isn't qualification enough in this case….There is an entire body of literature going back to before KInsey and Masters and Johnson et. al that this woman is totally unaware of. Signed a PhD female psychologist

  16. Apart from the scientific medical component: Why they just do not find it out by themselves what is good for them? Most of them have plenty of time to do so.

  17. "Women say they have sexual thoughts too. They have no idea. It's the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. If they knew what we were really thinking, they'd never stop slapping us." -Larry Miller

  18. She holds a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in cinema studies at the University of Toronto.
    Which are studies that don't teach students how to think, but what to think. I feel sorry for her. She has been indoctrinated with intersectional feminism.

    And she feels very sorry for women. Poor women, they are so vulnerable, sexualized, mistreated and oppressed. We should feel empathy for these fragile, traumatized creatures.
    Maybe we should create a safe space for every woman out there! And jail all men which make them feel uncomfortable.

  19. I don’t even need to read the comment section. I already know there are a bunch of insecure dudes commenting about how this lady is an idiot or this was a bad talk or she doesn’t know what she is talking about, etc… happens every time a women talks about empowering women and their sexuality

  20. So tired of the hypocrisy, speaking about males in such a snarky condescending way is no help, especially when you are trying to communicate to said males.

  21. Why is she blaming men?!!
    Shouldnt she blame the women who are full of tabu and I must say: Its the lack of female researchers thats the real problem…
    To all women: Stop blaming men, and get your freak on!

  22. She misses the point of her own insight. Women's sexuality isn't linear? Guess what, neither is men's.

    A woman describes men as being so simple they describe women as simple. Perhaps she's not good with irony.

  23. If there were brothel legal in school,and in public – I guess I'd never need woman in my life, child – population is still too much. f*ck and move on. More focused on things.

  24. In patrilineal and patriarchal societies, women are not very important and their sexuality just does not matter. In ancient matrilineal societies, female sexuality was celebrated as part of their religion.

  25. First off to anyone who thinks that the wage gap is real I'll redirect you to a youtuber who addresses male issues and talks about misinformed feminists and he actually cites his sources ( which never happens in these TED talks). As well as a anti-feminist female who talks about men's issues and even held a walk for men (which was protested by feminists). they'll be stuff to learn there. and And also maybe male doctors didn't want to talk to females about there bodies because women didn't want to talk about it, and they respected their decisions. Or maybe it's just a difficult f***ing thing to talk about, as well as uncomfortable.

  26. Is Ted falsifying results? Vast majority of comments are negative. And there's always a ton of dislikes. But there's always just about twice as many likes. Hmmmm. Interesting. Doesn't matter how many total votes there are either.

  27. It feels like story time in kindergarten the way she tries to delivers her speech, another liberal trying to change the WORLD and make up crap as life goes on. Vanity is like a smoke screen and soooo important to some. Pointless to me and MANY OTHERS!!! Pointless!!!!

  28. This talk sounds like something from the early 2000s.

    Also i guessed from the first minute that she's a journalist. I guess the job situation is so bad for them, that they have to write books that they are not qualified to write.

  29. It's women's job to figure out their own damn sexuality. In the mean time I'll be hitting the gym and they can let me know when they're ready for the D. Case closed.

  30. This broad is a 'journalist'. I wouldn't trust her to tell me the time of day. You shouldn't trust a word that comes out of her mouth.

  31. Men thought bla bla bla about women's bodies, "why didn't they just ask women?" – Because women didn't fu*ken know either! At least men were trying to help out their mothers, sisters and daughters. It was men who invented the pill and tampons and all the other stuff they use too. I hate this type of feminist who has no clue about the world and life long ago, and just spouts crap around now. You can see she clearly this type of person. Go away, and please don't do more talks or research!

  32. The uncomplicated sexuality of a women is uncomplicated to women. The everlution of women sexually appear to be the more the merrier.

  33. "We still debate the existence of female ejaculation and the G spot"

    No we don't, stupid.
    No we don't.

    More useless feminist whining about nothing in particular.


  34. wow the butthurt lil boys in the comment section who need to learn how to respect their own sexuality first off, obviously, and meanwhile project their self-hatred on any decent human discussion everywhere… poor saps

  35. The issue is that there is a double standard . Women are viewed negatively when trying to define their sexual preference. Certain things men do women can’t. That’s the reality .

  36. Condescension, shaming, and scolding, from a "disappointed" feminist. Therefore, repulsive.
    This is about Sarah's need to be self-righteous. It takes pretending to speak for half of the population of the world to satisfy it.
    It is just femsplaning with new makeup.

  37. im sorry, but who's telling women "the most important thing you can do is look sexy?" i have literally never heard of anybody even vaguely making that implication to anybody ever, nice work making a "men hate women so i hate men" video tho, great way to promote equality and understanding

  38. "Back when men dominated science." Men never had to dominate science we just did it better and always will, science is not the bookkeeping like most female scientists attempt it. We a genetically suited for it.

  39. I hate it when a a subject is treated as if it's a political problem, Male mutation has never stopped even in the west

  40. TEDx tends to less informative and low-quality presentations then TED. Quite obvious. Anatomists structured the female body a good as the same as men one. In this presentation, I heard nothing about church limiting such studies and other public problems.

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