Orgasmic bodies: The orgasm in contemporary western culture

Hannah Frith

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


Engaging both with science and popular culture, this book examines the meanings given to orgasmic bodies in contemporary heterosex. Starting from the assumption that orgasm is not a 'natural' or pre-social experience, Orgasmic Bodies argues that the meaning of 'orgasmic experience' must be learned – sometimes through explicit pedagogical instruction which is wrapped up in gendered ideologies. Despite detailed attention to 'knowing' the orgasmic body, especially the female body, embodied experience remains ambiguous and ineffable even as scientific and lay discourses seek to make it concrete and unmistakable. The dominance of an 'orgasmic imperative' where orgasm is essential to 'good sex', combined with evidence that women experience fewer orgasms than men, generates differing obligations to produce, work on, and enact, orgasm. Orgasmic Bodies explores how bodily experiences of orgasm are worked up as present/absent, complicated/straightforward, too slow/too fast, fake or real, in the doing of masculinities and femininities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages192
ISBN (Print)9781137304353
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Psychology
  • Critical Perspectives in Psychology
  • Sexuality
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural and Media Studies
  • Popular Culture


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