Notes on the technicity of the orgasm

What is the technique of an orgasm? Following the aristotelian tradition we could say that “orgasm is said in many ways”. Orgasm is said in a teleological terminology: it is an end for which masturbation or any other sexual process are the means. Orgasm is described as eventuality: it is the unexpected event that occurs in the middle of a series of bodily dynamics. One also speaks about orgasm as a myth: a mysterious mechanism to which only some holy initiated have access. This descriptions, on the other hand, are not necessarily exclusive within each other; one can articulate a discourse on the orgasm as teleologic, eventual and mythic. But the question we want to address in this text is: what would it mean to speak about orgasms with a technological terminology? Is it possible to talk about the technicity of orgasm, to talk about technical orgasms? What would this technicity be?

Let’s start by distinguishing among the discourses elaborated around the orgasm. Let’s first distinguish between vulvar orgasms and penile orgasms. We could secondly distinguish between the discourses on the so-called female orgasms and male orgasms. This only means to say that different things are said about penile orgasms and vulvar orgasms, in the same way as different things are said about female orgasms and male orgasms. It is important to distinguish between this two dimensions of discursivity because the first one is directly related with the organs located in some bodies, while the second one is related to the gender assigned to some people.

This means that it is not the same thing to talk about a sexual toy useful to masturbate a vulva, than to describe a female orgasm as a mystery. The first one would be a description of an anatomic/discursive type, the second one a gender/discursive kind of description. Both discursive dimensions are linked to affirmations, evaluations, enunciations and descriptions in the semantic field; we can read about both in magazines, we hear casual conversations about them, our gynecologists and other specialists say sentences related to them, etc. This distinction doesn’t deny that in the factual and specific descriptions of orgasms they cross each other and even get to be mixed up, or look like they are equivalent, so that when one talks about the female orgasm a quasi natural relation to the vulvar anatomic operations is assigned.

Every one of this possible descriptions of the orgasm – teleological, eventual, mythical and technical – are related in different ways to the anatomic and gender discourses, and to the relationships between them. To talk about it in teleological terms, for example, means something different when related to female or male orgasms. In both instances is assumed that the orgasm is the purpose of a sexual individual or collective process. The teleological discourse defines orgasm as the quality without which sexual processes could not be recognized as such at all; in other words, that sexual processes are only meaningful if reaching an orgasm is its goal, even if in fact no orgasm takes place during the process (in which case the sexual encounter is negatively characterized as a failure, mistake, or a fiasco). Nevertheless this description is differently linked towards the female orgasm and the male one. We should consider here the high degree of social acceptance of the lack of female orgasms within sexual processes, which runs of course in the opposite direction when it comes to the male orgasm, sometimes even described as anatomically necessary.

Let’s now think about the mythical orgasm. This category seems to only apply to female orgasms with a direct reference to the anatomy of vulvas. According to this description, vulvar female orgasms are a very complex process, and because of that there are a lot of beings with a vulva who cannot reach one. This discourse opens up our way into the question concerning the technological. We ask ourselves: what lies behind the assertion of a mythical orgasm? What is this mystery? While penises seem to be almost naturally familiar with rithms, intensities, positions, suctions, etc., vulvas are entangled in an obscure riddle. While penises seem to have clear what the proper orgasmic mechanisms are, vulvas walk blind through the valleys of pleasure. Is technicity a way to solve the vulvar mystery?

Nowadays technology offers sex toys for the masturbation of vulvas claiming that they help the users to reach the best orgasm, customize its features, adjust itself to the needs of particular bodies, all of this by getting feedback from the users. The promise of a foolproof -an even perfect- orgasm emerges as the reverse of the mythical discourse. Instead of an obscure field for vulvar orgasms, this kind of devices bet on a mechanism that could be reproduced, not only according to the users desires, but one that could be improved to perfection. What is this mechanism? What is the discourse that shapes the idea of a perfect orgasm, or an orgasm that is better/worse than others? To promote a sex toy that produces foolproof and perfect orgasms seems to establish an idealization. In this sense, the toy would help to produce the most similar copy to the idea of ‘perfect orgasm’ that inhabits the topus uranus of desire. This discourse – that has its starting point in the capacity of the device to measure and reproduce certain conditions – seems to be close to the teleological framework. However, we think that we should look more carefully.

Claiming that it is possible to produce perfect foolproof orgasms asserts, indeed, that there is an ideal model to get to, and also an accurate way to achieve it. But this claim also points out the possibility to think about the orgasm as something reproductible. What is this orgasmic (re)production? A orgasm-producer sex toy needs a certain technicity to establish a relationship with bodies. The production of the toy consists on the repetition of a series of mechanisms – rhythms, intensities, frictions, etc.- by which it develops a masturbatory technique. Patterns, ways, relations, are produced, and their repetition guarantees that an orgasm will take place.

We claim that technicity is the given condition of bodies. Bodies are technical insofar as they develop their own mechanics of repetition. This does not mean to say that the sex toy is superfluous, given the always-already technical orgasmic experience. The device does not mimics or improves the mechanics of the body. What would then be the contribution of this kind of sex toy? We do not think that using a sex toy is a qualitative or quantitative improvement in relation to handmade orgasms. Its function is to make visible the excess of meaning produced by the repetition of sexual mechanics, which is made by the random intersection of interactions. Sex toys do not define the orgasm -as ideal or perfect -, what they do is to signify the pleasurable operations that take place during a sexual process, or more precisely, they allow pleasure to appear as a decentralized, non-teleological, non-idealized, process. Pleasure is then located in the encounter of plastic and flesh, pleasure that does not have to unravel the foolproof method for a perfect orgasm as its goal, but the raw movement of the bodies, their rhythms, their intensities, their overflow.

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