Why does the “why” of female pleasure matter?

Isn’t it fascinating how we think about the science behind female pleasure? When we think about it at all, the first question is never what makes a woman feel good or how a woman can induce pleasure, but rather why. Why do women need to feel pleasure? Why does the clitoris exist?

Science tends to look where it thinks it’ll find answers. We’re so obsessed with the idea that female sexual pleasure must have a reason for being that we’ve decided in advance to keep searching until we find one. Almost never is the possibility raised that perhaps there isn’t a “why” at all. Maybe women’s bodies have functions unrelated to reproduction and male pleasure. Maybe we’re able to feel good just because we can.

In the context of the heteronormative, cisnormative society in which we live, it’s not that surprising. Women’s bodies are considered public property, their sexuality a commodity, their wants and needs secondary to the wants and needs of those who’ve appointed themselves the arbiters of why women exist and what they’re good for. In a society like this, of course we want to know why women have to feel pleasure. If it doesn’t serve society in some way – if it doesn’t help them have more children, if it doesn’t make them more pleasing to men – why does it exist? Surely, evolution should have, ah…nipped it in the bud?

That was a terrible pun, but woeful wordplay notwithstanding, this is how science currently thinks. If there’s no evolutionary (read: male society-serving) purpose for something a woman does, it becomes a puzzle, an anomaly. Women are not permitted by the society in which we live to experience anything or have any functions that do not serve a purpose a man deems useful. We’re hardly post-feminist – women are still seen as little more than ambulatory wombs who make men feel good, and anything that doesn’t serve either purpose is extraneous.

So why do some women have a clitoris? I don’t know. Neither does science. I suspect that as long as we restrict our search terms to “survival of the species” AND/OR “cishet male pleasure”, we won’t find the answer. Heck, maybe there isn’t an answer at all. Or maybe evolutionarily speaking, women are more likely to live happy, healthy, productive lives if they’re able to feel pleasure, because generally, happy people live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than those who aren’t.

Maybe that’s really all it is. Maybe if we need a scientific answer, we should be focusing on why it’s important, even vital, for women to be able to feel pleasure independently of men and for their own enjoyment and satisfaction. Because while I may not know why I have an organ that looks a bit like a tiny vestigial penis, I do know that my pleasure, my happiness and my well-being are important. My fulfillment as a woman – as a human being – is important independent of any men whose purposes my existence might incidentally serve. If science wants to ask “why”, maybe it ought to ask why so many people don’t seem to understand that.

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