Elisabeth Lloyd: The Orgasm Wars

2016-07-19T15:30:24+00:00March 16th, 2015|Events, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy of Biology, Science and Society|

The Orgasm Wars
Friday, March 6
3:30pm-5pm
New Chu International Centre

Abstract: There has been a fierce battle occurring among people who explain the evolution of human female orgasm, about its evolutionary origins and nature. The core issue is that the female orgasm presents an evolutionary puzzle. Unlike the male orgasm, female orgasm is not associated with any increase in fertility or reproductive success. Several types of theories have been offered for the evolution of the trait, but I shall show that only one of them has very much evidence supporting it, while the others are flawed by conflicts with the evidence. Oddly, these conflicts went unnoticed for many years by the scientists themselves, through the operation of both sex bias and a bias of preferring adaptive explanations over other types of evolutionary explanations. I shall review the familiar theory that orgasm evolved to support the bond between the man and the woman, as well as the theory that the sperm is sucked into the womb during orgasm with a high-quality male. The best-supported theory is the account stating that female orgasm is a bonus of direct selection on the male orgasm, and is not a direct adaptation in the female that we can detect. I shall discuss the biases that led the biologists and the rest of the public astray, that is, that led to the widely-held but seemingly premature dismissal of the bonus account, and the wide-spread acceptance of the unsupported accounts.