by Nicole Gardner Jan 1, 2014
Doesn't this sound a lot like the malady of “tumescence” or pent up sexual desire that an estimated 39 per cent of women face?
Tumescence is the ambient female problem that has no name, because we can’t name the problem, we can’t see the solution. The stress of women’s sexual unfulillment is so pervasive that we may not see it.
Tumescence seems like an existential condition, of stress, annoyance, that eeling of never-enough. Not feeling satisﬁed, feeling critical, moody, hypersensitive. To the extent that a woman never learns how to utilize her sexual energy through a deep, saturating female orgasm that is not the same as climax, she feels tumesced. Sexual energy naturally wants to move out like an exhalation; and tumescence won’t let it. Tumescence is the block between women and our sexual desire, and our free- dom from this overwhelming irritation and stress.
Tumescence is the barrier between women and our ability to receive pleasure.
Tumescence is the block between men and women in sex. According to Merriam Webster, tumescence is characterized by “readiness for sexual activity marked especially by vascular congestion of the sex organs.” Only deep, saturating orgasm—and I mean female orgasm as opposed to climax— can begin to release the tension and reverse the rigidity that has built up. We are meant to be soft and ﬂuid; in this state of tumescence we get rigid, annoyed, unsatisﬁed, lethargic, or agitated. Women are so ﬁlled with unreleased sexual energy that we are taut, like an overly blown-up balloon. Irritable, bloated, hypersensitive, akin to a mild sun- burn; or as if physical contact could cause an electrical shock. Worried we are crazy, unable to explain what exactly it is we are feeling, what’s causing our dis- comfort. But more than anything, desperately searching for some way to release some of this energy, to ease the tension so we don’t pop.
The symptoms that we now refer to as tumescence masqueraded for centuries under the name hysteria. Author Rachel P. Maines, in a New York Times article titled “The Technology of Orgasm”, writes of hysteria, “This purported disease and its sister ailments displayed as symptomatically consistent with the normal functioning of female sexuality, for which relief, not surprisingly, was obtained through orgasm, either through intercourse in the marriage bed or by means of massage on the physician’s table [...] Many of its classic symptoms are those of chronic arousal...” The treatment for this purported medical condition, “pelvic massage”, was widespread and wildly popular. It fell from favor only as recently as the early 20th century, when it was no longer feasible to hide the fact that both the condi- tion and its treatment were sexual in nature. Our use of the term tumescence acknowledges this fact, in contrast to the diagnosis of hysteria, which treats normal female sexual response as a medical ailment. In the interim, however, women have simply gone without deeper sexual satisfaction.