Author to discuss book on female orgasm

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWG) will host an informal meeting at 2 p.m. today with Professor Elisabeth A. Lloyd of Indiana University, who will discuss her new book, The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution. Since the mid-1960s, Lloyd explains, scientists have put forward a variety of theories about the logic of the female orgasm. Some state, for example, that the orgasm encourages women to have sex and, therefore, reproduce. In her book, Lloyd rejects 20 leading theories, arguing that, unlike the male orgasm, the female orgasm has no evolutionary or reproductive function. Instead, she supports a theory put forward in 1979 by anthropologist Donald Symons who contends that female orgasms are simply artifacts—a byproduct of the parallel development of male and female embryos during the first few weeks of life in the uterus. According to IRWG Director Londa Schiebinger, the debate sparked by Lloyd's book reveals the effect of male-centered approaches to science and how certain biases can steer science astray.

Also at IRWG at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, Professor N. E. J. Oudshoorn from the University of Twente in the Netherlands will discuss "Designing Technology and Masculinity: A Biography of the Male Pill." The talk is based on Oudshoorn's The Male Pill (2003), the first book on the history of hormonal contraceptives for men. Although the technical feasibility of male contraceptives was demonstrated as early as the late 1970s, no male pill exists today. Ever since the idea of hormonal contraceptives for men was introduced, Oudshoorn argues, society has questioned whether men and women would accept a new male contraceptive if one were available. Oudshoorn states that the introduction of contraceptives for men depends to a great extent on changing ideas about reproductive responsibility. Both talks will take place at Serra House, 556 Salvatierra Walk.