TO THE EDITOR:
Zuhaib Mahmood’s letter “Column perpetuates idea of meaningless, trivial sex” (Sept. 23) criticizes an earlier column for cheapening sex and calls for the promotion of “real” sex.
First of all, I agree that there is a strong mental component to sex. We do need to emphasize that sex is not a purely physical act: You could be the most skilled lover in the world, but if your partner isn’t in the right mood, nothing you do will please them.
But to emphasize that women are somehow distinct in their emotional needs during sex harms men and women alike. Men can also have sex primarily for emotional comfort, just as women can have sex primarily for physical pleasure; each desire is not unique or inherently important to one gender.
Additionally, Mahmood uses orgasm rates as a measure of sexual pleasure. Orgasm is not the only pleasure that happens during sex — emotional intimacy, which Mahmood himself emphasizes, can be just as pleasurable and rewarding as orgasm; furthermore, sex can still be physically pleasurable even if either partner doesn’t reach orgasm. To use orgasm as a measurement of pleasure is what truly trivializes sex — marking those who do not reach orgasm as somehow deficient, even if their sexual experiences are still worthwhile, meaningful and pleasurable in other ways.
There is no one-size-fits-all sexual lifestyle. If you know what you want and are achieving that in a healthy manner, then that’s “real” enough.
Stephany Qiouyi Lu