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The external female genital organs are called the vulva, the Latin for "covering." The vulva is also known as the pudendum, from "something to be ashamed of"—a clear reflection of sexism in ancient Western culture. The vulva has several parts (see the bottom part of Figure 12.3): the mons veneris, clitoris, major and minor lips, and vaginal opening. Females urinate through the urethral opening. The mons veneris (Latin for "hill of love") is a fatty cushion that lies above the pubic bone and is covered with short, curly pubic hair. The mons and pubic hair cushion the woman's pelvis during sexual intercourse.

he woman's most sensitive sex organ, the clitoris (from the Greek for "hill"), lies below the mons and above the urethral opening. The only known function of the clitoris is to receive and transmit pleasurable sensations. By contrast, the man has no one organ that serves the purpose of sexual pleasure exclusively. The penis does double and even triple duty as an organ for transmitting sperm, passing urine, and providing sexual stimulation. The clitoris is primarily responsible for the sensory input that triggers the orgasmic response in women (Mah & Binik, 2001)2001. Even during intercourse, the clitoris is stimulated by the back-and-forth tugging action of the penis against the clitoral tissue.

during erection. The clitoris has a shaft and a tip, or glans. The glans is the more sensitive of the two and may become irritated by too early an approach during foreplay or by prolonged stimulation.
Two layers of fatty tissue, the outer or major lips and the inner or minor lips, line the entrance to the vagina. The outer lips are covered with hair and are less sensitive to touch than the smooth, pinkish inner lips.
We have learned about the woman's external sexual organs. The woman's internal sexual and reproductive organs consist of the vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries (see the top part of Figure 12.3). The vagina contains the penis during intercourse. At rest, the vagina is a flattened tube 3 to 5 inches in length. When aroused, it can lengthen by several inches and dilate (open) to a diameter of about 2 inches. A large penis is not required to "fill" the vagina in order for a woman to experience sexual pleasure. The vagina expands as needed. The pelvic muscles that surround the vagina may also be contracted during intercourse to heighten sensation. The outer third of the vagina is highly sensitive to touch.
When a woman is sexually aroused, the vaginal walls produce moisture that serves as lubrication during sexual intercourse. Sexual relations can be painful for unaroused, unlubricated women. Adequate arousal usually stems from a combination of sexual attraction, feelings of love, fantasies, and direct stimulation in the form of foreplay. Anxieties concerning sex or a partner may inhibit sexual arousal—for either gender.
High in the vagina is a small opening called the cervix (Latin for "neck") that connects the vagina to the uterus. Strawlike fallopian tubes lead from the uterus to the abdominal cavity. Ovaries, which produce ova and the hormones estrogen and progesterone, lie near the uterus and the fallopian tubes. When an ovum is released from an ovary, it normally finds its way into the nearby fallopian tube and makes its way to the uterus. Conception normally takes place in the tube, but the embryo becomes implanted and grows in the uterus. During labor the cervix dilates, and the baby passes through the cervix and distended vagina.
The major male sex organs consist of the penis (from the Latin for "tail"); testes (or testicles); scrotum; and the series of ducts, canals, and glands that store and transport sperm and produce semen. Whereas the female vulva has been viewed historically as "something to be ashamed of," the male sex organs were prized in ancient Greece and Rome. Citizens wore phallic-shaped trinkets, and the Greeks held their testes when offering testimony, in the same way that we swear on a Bible. Testimony and testicle both derive from the Greek testis, meaning "witness." Given this tradition of masculine pride, it is not surprising that Sigmund Freud believed that girls were riddled with penis envy. Ingrained cultural attitudes cause many women to feel embarrassed about their genital organs.
The testes produce sperm and the male sex hormone testosterone. The scrotum allows the testes to hang away from the body (sperm require a lower-than-body temperature). Sperm travel through ducts up over the bladder and back down to the ejaculatory duct (see Figure 12.4), which empties into the urethra. In females, the urethral opening and the orifice for transporting the ejaculate are different; in males, they are one and the same. Although the male urethra transports urine as well as sperm, a valve shuts off the bladder during ejaculation. Thus, sperm and urine do not mix. Several glands, including the prostate, produce semen. Semen transports, activates, and nourishes sperm, enhancing their ability to swim and fertilize the ovum. The penis consists mainly of loose erectile tissue. Like the clitoris, the penis has a shaft and tip, or glans, which is highly sensitive to sexual stimulation, especially on the underside. Within seconds following sexual stimulation, blood rushes reflexively into caverns within the penis, just as blood engorges the clitoris. Engorgement with blood—not bone —produces erection.
The most frequently seen problems in clinical practice are not problems of erection or difficulty achieving orgasm. Rather, the most common presenting problem involves disorders of sexual desire (LoPiccolo, 2011)2011. The term hypoactive sexual desire disorder applies to people who report a lack of sexual desire, interest or drive, and, frequently, an absence of any sexual fantasies. Not surprisingly, the disorder is associated with lower levels of satisfaction with a relationship and lower levels of sexual activity (Leiblum, 20102010; Leiblum et al., 2006)2006.
Disorders of sexual arousal involve deficiencies in sexual responsiveness. In women, sexual arousal is characterized by vaginal lubrication that prepares the vagina for penile penetration. Sexual arousal in the male is characterized by erection. Almost all women now and then have difficulty becoming or remaining lubricated. Almost all men have occasional difficulty attaining an erection or maintaining an erection through intercourse. The diagnoses of Female sexual arousal disorder and male erectile disorder are brought to bear when these problems are persistent or recurrent. In orgasmic disorder the man or woman, though sexually excited, is persistently delayed in reaching orgasm or does not reach orgasm at all. Orgasmic disorder and low sexual drive are more common among women than men. Men more commonly have difficulty achieving orgasm too quickly, as in premature ejaculation, in which the man ejaculates following minimal sexual stimulation. In some cases, an individual can reach orgasm without difficulty while engaging in sexual relations with one partner, but not with another.
Rape has more to do with motives of power, control, and revenge than it does with sexual desire. It is often used as a means by which a man seeks to control and dominate a woman, or to exact revenge because of a history of perceived mistreatment and humiliation by women. With some rapists, violence appears to enhance sexual arousal. They therefore seek to combine sex and aggression.
Evolutionary psychologists suggest that among ancestral humans, males who were more sexually aggressive were more likely to transmit their genes to future generations (Fisher, 20002000; Thornhill & Palmer, 2000)2000. Thus, men may have a genetic tendency to be more sexually aggressive than women. However, evolutionary psychologists do not condone rape or sexual aggression. Human beings can choose whether or not to act aggressively.
Many social critics, however, contend that American culture also socializes young men—including perhaps the nice young man next door—into sexually aggressive roles by reinforcing them for aggressive and competitive behavior (Davis & Liddell, 20022002; Malamuth, Huppin, & Paul, 2005)2005. Young men learn from an early age that they are expected to dominate and overpower opponents on the playing fields. Unfortunately, these lessons may carry over into the bedroom when women resist their sexual overtures. Many young men view their dating partners as opponents whose resistance must be overcome by whatever means necessary, even if it requires the use of force. The addition of alcohol to the mix impairs judgment and ability to weigh the consequences of behavior, further raising the risk of sexual aggression (Cole, 20062006; Scribner et al., 2010)2010.
We also need to consider the cognitive underpinnings of rape. Men may misread a woman's resistance as a coy form of game-playing on her part, thinking that "no" means "maybe" and "maybe" means "yes." College men often misinterpret a woman's friendly overtures, such as a subtle smile or gesture, as signs of sexual interest (Farris et al., 2008)2008. When it comes to reading signals, men generally have blurrier social perceptions than do women. Men tend to overestimate the sexual interest of women they have just met, especially when the men think of themselves as "hot" even if they're not, and also when men find women more sexually attractive (Perilloux, Easton, & Buss, 2012)2012. On the other hand, women tend to underestimate men's sexual interest.
The thinking styles of preschoolers are characterized by a form of egocentrism in which they cannot take another's point of view. Adolescent thought is marked by the sort of egocentrism in which they can understand the thoughts of others but still have trouble separating things that are of concern to others and those that are of concern only to themselves (Elkind, 1985)1985. Adolescent egocentrism gives rise to two important cognitive developments: the imaginary audience and the personal fable. The concept of the imaginary audience refers to the belief that other people are as concerned with our thoughts and behavior as we are. As a result, adolescents see themselves as the center of attention and assume that other people are about as preoccupied with their appearance and behavior as they are. Adolescents may feel they are on stage and all eyes are focused on them.
The concept of the imaginary audience may fuel the intense adolescent desire for privacy. It helps explain why adolescents are so self-conscious about their appearance, why they worry about every facial blemish and spend long hours grooming. The personal fable is the belief that our feelings and ideas are special, even unique, and that we are somehow invulnerable to harm. The personal fable seems to underlie adolescent behavior patterns such as showing off and taking risks. Some adolescents adopt an "It can't happen to me" attitude; they assume they can smoke without risk of cancer or engage in sexual activity without risk of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. "All youth—rich, poor, black, white—have this sense of invincibility, invulnerability," says Ronald King (2000) of the HIV Community Coalition of Washington, D.C., explaining why many teens who apparently know the risks still expose themselves to HIV. Teens are more likely than adults to underestimate the risks associated with such behaviors as drinking, smoking, and unsafe sex (Berger et al., 20052005; Nowinski, 2007)2007.
Another aspect of the personal fable is the idea that no one else has experienced or can understand one's "unique" feelings, such as needing independence or being in love. The personal fable may underlie the common teenage lament, "You just don't understand me!"
Psychologist Daniel Levinson and colleagues (1978), who examined the life experiences of a group of 40 men, found that a midlife transition typically occurred at about age 40 to 45. This transition was characterized by a shift in psychological perspective. Previously, men had thought of their age in terms of the number of years that had elapsed since birth. Now they begin to think of their age in terms of the number of years they have left. Men in their thirties still think of themselves as older brothers to "kids" in their twenties. At about age 40 to 45, however, some marker event—illness, a change of job, the death of a friend or parent, or being beaten at tennis by their son—leads men to realize that they are a full generation older. Suddenly there seems to be more to look back on than forward to. It dawns on men that they will never be president or chairman of the board. They will never play shortstop for the Dodgers or point guard for the Heat. They mourn the passing of their own youth and begin to adjust to the specter of old age and the finality of death.

Research suggests that women may undergo a midlife transition a number of years earlier than men do (Stewart & Ostrove, 1998)1998. Sheehy (1976)1976 writes that women may enter midlife about five years earlier than men, at about age 35 instead of 40. Why? Much of it has to do with the winding down of the "biological clock"—that is, the abilities to conceive and bear children. Yet many women today are having children in their forties, and so we need to consider traditional time markers somewhat more flexibly.
Perhaps. Not surprisingly, many working mothers are pressed for time. They worry about not having enough time with their families and about balancing the demands of work and a home life. Nevertheless, when they were asked whether they would like to surrender some of their responsibilities, 53% in a Harris poll of working women said no. Even more ironic, full-time working mothers reported that they felt more likely to feel valued for their contributions at home than full-time homemakers were.
Despite their new earning power, working mothers are still primarily concerned about their children. When they were asked what made them feel successful at home, about one man and woman in four mentioned good relationships and spending time together. The next-largest group of women (22%) reported good, well-adjusted, healthy children. But 20% of men mentioned money, or being able to afford things. Only 8% of the men mentioned well-adjusted kids. Just 5% of the women mentioned money. When we speak about role overload, we should keep in mind that we are talking about the situation of the typical American woman who has children who have not yet left the home. Let us momentarily climb atop our soapbox to note that the United States is somewhat unusual in that it still lacks coherent policies for helping dual-wage-earning families. Most industrialized nations provide families with allowances for children and paid leave when babies are born. Only a minority of companies in the United States do so.
Perhaps more companies in the United States should do so. Helping families manage pregnancies and the infancy of their children helps breed loyalty to the company (Lyness et al., 1999)1999. Otherwise, working women are sort of held hostage by the company and switch jobs when the opportunity arises.