The 2 Most Entrenched Myths About Sexuality

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Come As You Are" by Emily Nagoski. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the most common myths about sexuality? How does buying into these myths affect our sexual experience?

There are a lot of misconceptions about sex that even experienced adults still believe and perpetuate. In her book Come as You Are, sex researcher Emily Nagoski points out a few harmful but common misconceptions about sexuality perpetuated by society.

Let’s debunk the two most entrenched myths that are still prevalent in our understanding of sexuality.

Myth 1: Men Get “Hard” and Women Get “Wet”

One of the most common myths about sexuality our culture perpetuates is that men and women get aroused differently: an aroused man gets “hard” and an aroused woman gets “wet”. She says the truth, however, is that men and women do both. A man’s penis and a woman’s clitoris both become engorged when blood rushes to the area. Similarly, men and women both release fluid as they become aroused.

(Shortform note: Although Nagoski clarifies that both men and women get “hard” and “wet,” she doesn’t explain why this is the case. In the first instance, the swelling of blood in the penis and clitoris that creates erections also increases sensitivity for the purpose of pleasure. In the second instance, the fluids that men and women release during the process of arousal eliminate acidity, which helps to create the proper environment for sperm to survive.)

Myth 2: Ejaculation Is Masculine

Nagoski adds that many also believe that because it’s uncommon for women to release fluid during orgasm, ejaculation is only for men. This idea creates one of two problematic and conflicting assumptions: 1) female ejaculation is unacceptable and abnormal, or 2) because it’s uncommon, it’s a prize to idealize. In reality, Nagoski reassures readers that whether a woman ejaculates or not, it’s entirely acceptable and healthy.

(Shortform note: One additional reason for the prevalence of this misconception that Nagoski doesn’t mention is the lack of research on female ejaculation. Because there have been few studies on the subject, scientists still don’t fully understand how female ejaculation happens, what its purpose is, or even how many women experience it. One study, for example, concluded that anywhere between 10–50% of women ejaculate, which is quite a wide estimate.)

The 2 Most Entrenched Myths About Sexuality

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Emily Nagoski's "Come As You Are" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Come As You Are summary:

  • Why women should change the way they talk, think, and feel about their sexuality
  • A look at the misinformation and harmful cultural messaging surrounding sex
  • A discussion around the individual experiences of arousal, desire, and orgasm

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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