“What do cows’ uteruses, decreased diary production and attitudes towards women’s openly expressed sexuality have in common? Unless you’re an expert in bovine anatomy the answer may come as a surprise to you: it’s nymphomania.
Nymphomania is a term for short inter-oestrus periods in cattle, but it’s also (mainly?) used to describe women with ‘abnormal’ sexual urges. The way that this abnormality was defined has changed dramatically over time, but is best characterized with a quote from the famous Dr. Kinsey himself — “A nymphomaniac is someone who has more sex than you do.”
The story of nymphomania is a sad tale of a time when women weren’t acknowledged as sexual beings and judged/jailed/held in mental hospitals against their will if they were not willing to conform to the ideal (or rather sick contortion) of women as sexless creatures. It’s a story of women who were all forcefully classified within the virgin/whore dichotomy. The only reputable way to lose one’s virginal status was to become a wife and bear children conceived in a dark bedroom with as little pleasure as possible. Of course, at the same time it was a very different deal for men. They were mostly allowed as much premarital sex as their money could afford – as long as they weren’t defiling reputable women that is.
Well into the 20th century women weren’t supposed to like sex. Sex was thought to be something that men pursued and women unwillingly gave up so that they could fulfil their lives’ goal by bearing the heirs their husbands wanted and the little darlings they needed to lavish with their innate motherly feelings on.
The thing is, although society has largely managed to ignore this fact and a tonne of medical books has been written to the contrary, women do in fact have a sex drive. When girls hit puberty and start producing sex hormones (oestrogens as well as testosterone) they start having (consciously or not) sexual feelings. There is a small percentage (less than 1%) of the population, both female and male, that is asexual and genuinely does not want or need to have sex. The rest of us are destined to a life in which carnal urges will play a role at some point. However, the whole concept of nymphomania is built-up on the completely false assumption of sexual urges being unique and healthy to men and a sign of disease and lack of mental stability in women.
In order to understand the history and societal significance of nymphomania, we have to take a closer look at its supposed opposite: female frigidity. The latter was basically assumed to be the status quo for female sexuality in the US and much of Europe (if you weren’t a ‘working girl’ that is). There was never much evidence to back this up (ahem…I don’t know, maybe because it’s an entirely false claim?). However, this perception was likely to be fueled by anecdotal evidence from men who spent their wedding nights with terrified young wives who had no idea about sex and all of a sudden had their clothes ripped off and a penis inserted into their vagina with no prior warning (other than perhaps fumbling with breasts for a few seconds) and nothing to arouse them beforehand. Usually, the deed was done within a few minutes, the marriage consummated and legal, and the wife left thinking (quite correctly) that she’s survived something awful and dreading it happening again. As much as we may like to, we shouldn’t put all the blame on the husbands. The ‘poor’ chaps were brought up and socialized to think women take absolutely no pleasure in sex and they perceive it a mechanical act which needs to happen in order to make them mothers. Who needs foreplay if all you really want is to change diapers.
However, there were women the world round, who could not be convinced they don’t like sex. Even if everyone around them tried to convince them otherwise they still seemed to enjoy making use of their genitals for things other than procreation. And so nymphomania was born. It was defined as a multitude of behaviors ranging from “lascivious glances” and flirting through masturbation and attempts to convince husbands to have more sex, all the way to actual physical attacks on men to enforce intercourse.
It’s not a recent invention. Nymphomania, or a Dissertation Concerning the Furor Uterinus was written by an obscure French doctor, M. D. T. Bienville, and translated into English in 1775. The good doctor helpfully explained that “Eating rich food, consuming too much chocolate, dwelling on impure thoughts, reading novels, or performing “secret pollutions” (masturbating), overstimulates women’s delicate nerve fibers and leads to nymphomania.” Thank goodness there were people like Dr. Bienville to look after the “delicate nerve fibers” of women who eat too much chocolate or indulged in the obscenity of reading novels…
In the Victorian period the common perception – among the medical profession as well as patients – was that strong female sexual desire was a symptom of disease. Sexual madness was an actual concern among (mostly) “refined and virtuous” women and their physicians. And the women weren’t just worried about possible inconveniences. Openly having a libido could get a woman into serious trouble in Victorian England. And by trouble I mean an awful mental hospital that one could get locked away in for years. Shockingly, women didn’t have to want sex to be diagnosed as a nymphomaniac. The outright opposite was sometimes true and victims of sexual assault were deemed to be diagnosed with this ‘disease’ just as women who bore illegitimate children, “abused themselves” (i.e. masturbated), or were judged as promiscuous. Once at the asylum, women underwent a pelvic exam to determine a number of things including the size of their clitoris and the moistness of their vagina. If any of these were deemed unsatisfactory by the physicians the patients were forced to undergo ‘treatments’. These were nothing like the rather benign ‘vibrator therapy’ of the early 20th century and instead involved induced vomiting, bloodletting (also in the reproductive organs), restricted diet, douches to the head or breasts, and, at times, clitoridectomies (i.e. removal of clitoris).
Attitudes towards women and sexuality relaxed – in parallel with women’s growing role in society and their increased independence – and over the 19th and 20th century women were rarely locked away for wanting sex. A bit of a breakthrough for nymphomania came with Freud. The father of psychoanalysis certainly has quite a few accomplishments to his name, but he was no expert on female sexuality. Freud was a self-proclaimed misogynist and his views on women are perhaps best known thanks to his misguided (to say the least) theories on penis envy. Freud’s views on nymphomania rather missed the spot as well, but they did redirect the discourse around it. Building on his now discredited idea of the superiority of vaginal vs. clitoral orgasms, Freud and his disciples claimed that, far from being a sign of excessive sexuality, nymphomania actually sprang from frigidity. The sexually immature woman, they argued, was unable to orgasm during intercourse and took lovers in order to achieve sexual satisfaction. And so for a time nymphomania became the disease of unsatisfied women. With this we were getting closer to the crux of the matter – nymphomania is in fact a term that describes women who like sex and are willing to actively pursue. Sounds familiar? Ah, right. Isn’t that what we expect of healthy males?
As the sexual revolution rolled around, the medical establishment, as well as regular people, became more accustomed with the fact that women can in fact enjoy sex without being mentally ill and the psychiatric definitions changed in step with societal perception. Distressingly, the term held out in court rooms for an inexcusably long-time – nymphomania was commonly used in rape cases to defend male rapists – “the victim didn’t just ‘ask for it’, your Honour she basically threw herself at my client, this sick nymphomaniac women.”
A brief overview of the history of nymphomania as seen through the American Psychiatric Association’s official guide to madness – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – is fairly illuminating about more than just development of psychiatry. In DSM-1 nymphomania was listed as a “sexual deviation”. When DSM-III was published in 1980 nymphomania was ‘degraded’ to a “psychosexual disorder”. By 1987 nymphomania and its male counterpart, Don Juanism, had been replaced them with “distress about a pattern of repeated sexual conquests or other forms of nonparaphilic (nondeviant) sexual addiction.” In 1994 (DSM-IV) even sexual addiction was abandoned and straightdope.com has a great explanation for why this happened: “perhaps because the non-gender-specific nature of the term laid bare the speciousness of the whole project: If men as well as women can be sex addicts, and if many male victims (Bill Clinton, Joe Namath) are successful, admired, and largely unrepentant, it seems stupid to characterize as an illness what a lot of people would consider an accomplishment.”
Curiously, according to the WHO women can still suffer from nymphomania. The WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) includes “Excessive Sexual Drive” which is divided into satyriasis for males and nymphomania for females, and “Excessive Masturbation”. What makes this even more curious is that there is no definition of “excessive sexual drive” (Dr. Kinsey had a pretty good suggestion…) and doctors “considering such a diagnosis are advised to formulate their own criteria of excessive sexual drive”. For some reason when it comes to tuberculosis, AIDS or schizophrenia doctors aren’t left the leeway to come up on the spot with what constitutes a disease symptom but when it’s an issue concerning our sex lives we’re (or at least the WHO is) happy to hand it over to them. This is potentially dangerous as we’ve seen how much of what defines healthy sexuality has nothing to do with health but everything to do with societal conventions.
In the 21st century we’re slowly moving past policing women’s sexuality (and men’s – but let’s be honest, we never really cared so much about their ‘sleeping around’ anyway). However, pop-culture and our daily lives – I’m sure – abound with examples of how we judge women’s sexual conduct differently (read: more harshly) then men’s. For example, in a recent episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (a hugely popular sit-com hailed as the new “Friends,” one of the main characters says that if he were to meet a women and have sex with her the same day she would be a “huge slut.” It doesn’t seem to occur to him (or his best friend with whom he’s having the conversation and who nods approvingly all the way through) to judge himself on the decision to have sex within hours of meeting someone. He’d just be doing what all dudes want to do – aim to have a ton of sex, right? She’d, on the other hand, be a “slut.”
It’s important to see slut-shaming for what it is – a new incarnation of “nymphomaniac-shaming.” Women used to be judged as crazy for liking sex, now they’re just ‘immoral’ if they have ‘too much of it’ (according to a recent survey the number of sex partners a women has to have to merit being called a slut is … five).
Nymphomania isn’t quite dead. It pops up every now and again – usually in the close company of the phrase ‘sex-crazed’. It’s not as damning as it used to be. The term doesn’t sentence women to years in mental institutions anymore; it’s more of a joke. “Slut” is the new, dangerous bad word. Again, no mental institutions are involved, but societal ostracism can be as bad as ever. We, as a society, should remember about nymphomania’s fate every time women are slut-shamed. And most of all, we should remember the moral of that story: female sexuality has a (continuous) history of being unreasonably judged and policed and unless we put a definite stop to it, gender equality will continue to be a goal and not reality.”
By Maria Pawlowska, a healthcare analyst who delves into the field of reproductive health, sexuality, and gender.
Book – Nymphomania: A History, author: Carol Groneman
Nymphomania—organic disease, psychological disorder, legal construct, and locker-room joke. Throughout history, it’s been all these and more. Today images of sexually available women permeate our culture, and curiosity about nymphomania appears to be as insatiable as the stereotypical nymphomaniac herself. Carol Groneman follows the idea of nymphomania over the last two hundred years, unraveling questions about how much is too much sex for women—and who decides.
I had the pleasure of meeting KD Grace at the Erotic Authors Assoc. Conf. last month in Las Vegas. Heard her read at the Erotic Literary Salon – on tour and just loved her words. She has graciously sent an excerpt from her recently launched novel The Pet Shop. Below is a brief overview of book, “hot” excerpt, and a short background of just “who is KD Grace?”
In appreciation for a job well done, STELLA JAMES ‘s boss sends her a pet – a human pet. The mischievous TINO comes straight from THE PET SHOP complete with a collar, a leash, and an erection. Stella soon discovers the pleasure of keeping Pets, especially this one, is extremely addicting.
Obsessed with Tino and with the reclusive philanthropist, VINCENT EVANSTON, who looks like Tino, but couldn’t be more different, Stella is drawn into the secret world of The Pet Shop. As her animal lust awakens, Stella must walk the thin line that separates the business of pleasure from the more dangerous business of the heart or suffer the consequences.
Excerpt from “The Pet Shop”
Pets don’t like to eat alone. They prefer to sit on the floor by the table next to their keeper’s chair, where they enjoy being hand-fed. If this is not possible, place food in a bowl next to the water dish. Make sure meat is always cut into bite-sized chunks.
Note: The former is preferable, as most Pets and Pet keepers find sharing a meal in this fashion very enjoyable and apart of their bonding experience.
The manual was right. Once she got the hang of offering Tino choice morsels in her open hand, the laving of his velvety wet tongue, the slight nipping of teeth and curling of lips was lovely. He sat on his haunches, once again fully erect, resting his head on her naked thigh in between bites. If she hadn’t been ravenous, she would have never been able to concentrate on eating. He was as happy to nibble the mushrooms and tomatoes as he was the bacon and eggs. The toast with honey forced him to lick the sweet stickiness off the tips of her fingers, even occasionally off her thigh when her efforts were clumsy with the excitement of having such an exquisite creature eating from her hand.
She had had a similar sense of excitement the first time a horse had taken a sugar lump from her hand. That something so powerful, something potentially wild and dangerous had allowed itself to be fed by her was an exhilarating experience. At present, the magnificent beast on the floor insinuated himself a little closer to her with each bite, and she was pretty sure this wild animal had more than food in mind.
Tino scooted and wriggled himself until, at last, he sat between her legs, his humid breath warming her mons. With each morsel of food, he insinuated his waiting face a little closer to her pussy until her open palm with its offered titbit was practically resting against her pubis. When a particularly sticky morsel of toast ended up on the chair between her legs, he carefully licked up every bit from the chair, and then he continued lapping his way right on up between her legs.
She caught her breath with a little whimper and a jerk. The bite of toast she was about to offer slipped from her hand onto her belly. Tino wasn’t bothered. He simply squeezed in between the table and her body, forcing her chair back just enough that he could nibble and lick the toast and honey from her tightening abdominal muscles. That done, he picked up where he’d left off, nibbling and licking between her pouting labia.
Fascinated and aroused by his eating habits, she grabbed a handful of egg and wiped it across her breasts and down her stomach, licking the remains from her fingers, feeling a bit animal-ish herself. He raised his head again and worked his way up her belly nibbling scrambled eggs as he went, pushing her chair back farther and farther from the table.
She gave up on any semblance of proper table etiquette and slid onto the floor next to him. She grabbed the plate from the table on her way done, shoving a handful of egg into her own mouth before smearing more egg and a bit of tomato across her breasts and belly. Lying back she let Tino nibble and lap his breakfast off of her body until she was writhing and grinding on the floor beneath his enthusiastic tongue.
He surprised her by taking a rasher of bacon from the plate and offering it to her, mouth to mouth. It was almost like a porn version of Lady and the Tramp as they gnawed and nibbled their way to each other’s mouth tongues lapping and lips smacking the salty savoury taste of the meat.
She plucked a nice plump mushroom from the plate. It reminded her of the tip of a cock as she eased it between her slippery folds far enough that Tino had to work to get it out.
But Tino didn’t mind working for his breakfast. And by the time he had extricated the mushroom, she was completely convinced his tongue was prehensile. His face glistening with her juices, the mushroom pressed daintily between his lips, he slid up her sticky body and offered her the morsel with its unique sauce of their lovemaking. Together they gulped down the tangy fungus between gasps for breath, breath which seemed to be harder and harder to get as their meal continued.
She gulped a bite of toast, then wiped the honey and butter from the remains of it in circular motions around her nipples. Tino watched wide-eyed, his cock standing at full attention, his balls resting heavily on his thigh.
Behind the Scenes – K.D. Grace
I was born with a writing obsession. It got worse once I actually learned HOW to write. There’s no treatment for it. It’s progressive and chronic and quite often interferes with normal, everyday functioning. I might actually be concerned if it wasn’t so damned much fun most of the time. Through writing I get to be the creative force of my own universe. When I’m writing, I get to be God. K D writeth, and K D deleteth away. It’s possible that I might be slightly addicted to wielding such power.
When I’m not writing, I practice extreme vegetable gardening, There is yet a tiny strip of grass in the centre of my back garden that hasn’t been cultivated. But I’m already thinking, more sweet corn next year, a few more tomato plants, and French beans, there must be more French beans…
I live in South England with my husband and a back garden full of free-loading birds. Every winter they eat me out of house and home, then every year, they bring the kids back for summer hols, and I feel like a godmother.
I walk my stories. Sometimes it takes miles to walk a story. Last summer I walked half a novel all the way across Devon. This summer I walked two novellas on the Coast to Coast trail all the way across England. For me, inspiration is directly proportionate to how quickly I can wear out a pair of walking boots.
I believe that Freud was right. In the end, it really IS all about sex. And nobody’s happier about that than I am, cuz otherwise I wouldn’t be here, and neither would you. Plus it’s fun. Besides, if it wasn’t for sex and romance, what would I write about?
I’m trying to learn to play the piano because it’s a beautiful instrument, the music from which moves me deeply. I’m rubbish at it. But it doesn’t matter. For some reason it still moves me.
Mostly I write. I write every day, I write any place, I write any time. I write long-hand, I write on computer, I write on my Blackberry. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. When I’m not thinking about writing, I’m dreaming about writing. It’s true, I’m obsessed.
The Pet Shop, my critically acclaimed new novel, published by Xcite Books, is now available.
The Initiation of Ms Holly, my bestselling erotic romance novel, published by Xcite Books, is available everywhere.
Coming Soon! Lakeland Heatwave: Body Temperature and Rising, the first book of my paranormal erotic Lakeland Heatwave trilogy, also published by Xcite Books, will be out in February 2012.
I also have erotica published with Xcite Books, Mammoth, Cleis Press, Black Lace, Sweetmeats Press, Erotic Review, Ravenous Romance, and Scarlet Magazine.
Technology seems to have priority over our sex lives, at least according to the following survey.
TeleNav survey examines Americans’ attachment to mobile phones; finds iPhone users are least willing to let go of their devices
Sunnyvale, California — August 3, 2011 — Results of a recent national survey* commissioned by TeleNav, Inc. (NASDAQ: TNAV) indicate that Americans are willing to give up some of life’s greatest pleasures in order to hang on to their mobile phones. Not surprisingly, smartphone users were more attached to their devices than were feature phone users, with iPhone users leading the pack. In fact, iPhone users were more likely than their Android or BlackBerry counterparts to spend a week without their significant other, exercise or shoes—rather than go a week without their phone.
While 22 percent of all respondents said they would rather give up their toothbrush than their phone for a week, this number jumped to a whopping 40 percent among iPhone users. Halitosis and other priority quirks aside, 83 percent of iPhone users thought other iPhone users would make the best romantic partners.
Even among feature phone users, however, TeleNav’s survey showed respondents’ strong attachment to their mobile phones. Nearly half of all respondents said they sleep with their phone next to them, including 38 percent of feature phone users and 66 percent of smartphone users.
From differences between iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users to the snap judgments people make based on the type of phone someone carries, TeleNav’s latest survey sheds light on just how important mobile phones have become in Americans’ lives.
How willing are you . . .
Life is full of simple pleasures, so having to choose between one of those many pleasures—such as coffee, caffeine or even sex—and your mobile phone can be difficult.
- One-third of all respondents would be more willing to give up sex for a week than their mobile phone.
- Of the respondents who indicated they would be more willing to give up sex than their mobile phone for a week, 70% were women.
- 54% of all respondents would be more willing to give up exercise for a week than their mobile phone.
- So what about our guilty pleasures? 55% of respondents would be more willing to give up caffeine for a week than their mobile phone, 63% would be more willing to give up chocolate, and 70% would be willing to forego alcohol.
- One in five respondents are more willing to go shoeless than phoneless for a week.
- iPhone users (43%) were more likely to say they’d go a week without shoes than Android users (27%) or BlackBerry users (25%).
Smartphone vs. Feature Phone
As more Americans jump on the smartphone bandwagon, results of TeleNav’s survey indicate that a person’s choice in phones may impact some of their daily behaviors.
- It appears the phones we choose may also reflect our manners, as 26% of smartphone users admitted to using their phone frequently at the dinner table, compared with just 6% of feature phone users.
- Some couples may find themselves saying it’s either me or the phone. 22% of smartphone users said they’d rather go a week without seeing their significant other than to have to forfeit their phone compared to just 14% of feature phone users.
- How do we value our phones over other technologies? Smartphone owners were twice as likely as feature phone users to choose their phone over their laptop/computer.
- Smartphone users were three times more likely to admit that they judge people based on the type of phone they carry.
Survey results suggest that not only does the type of phone a person uses reflect the choices they make, but also the smartphone operating system they choose.
- iPhone users were twice as likely than Android users to have spent more than $40 on apps for their current phone.
- Nearly half of Android users said their phone reflects their overall sense of style—more than iPhone users (35%). 43% of BlackBerry users felt their phones reflected their overall sense of style.
- While a strong majority of iPhone users (83%) thought other iPhone users would make the best romantic partners, and a strong majority of Android users (70%) selected other Android users, only 48% of BlackBerry users thought other BlackBerry users would make for the best romantic partners.
* The survey sample consisted of 514 U.S. mobile phone users (254 male/260 female) of driving age.
Responses were collected between July 15 and July 19, 2011.
Additional Survey Findings
- Smartphone users were twice as likely as feature phone users to give up hot showers rather than their phone for one week.
- 68% of iPhone users and 65% of Android users would rather go a week without exercise than without a phone. BlackBerry users were more fitness-conscious, though nearly half still said they’d forego exercise.
- 31% of smartphone users said they check their phone for messages or email while at the movies; only 7% of feature phones admitted to doing the same.
- More than a third of iPhone users said they frequently use their phone at the dinner table compared to 21% of Android users and 15% of BlackBerry users.
- 18% of smartphone users have ended a relationship via some of today’s newest technologies including voice mail, text message, email, Facebook update or Twitter post, compared with just 7% of feature phone users.
- Smartphone users were twice as likely as feature phone users to say they’d rather give up television for a week than their phone.
- Smartphone users were much more likely (42%) than feature phone users (15%) to say their phone reflects their overall sense of style.
- 45% of iPhone and Android users have used their phones to watch videos, compared with just 20% of BlackBerry users.