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Whether pleasure is greater in men than in women during coition.

One asks, further, whether pleasure is greater in men than in women during coition.[1]

1. It seems not. Because the Philosopher says in the first book of the Physics that "matter seeks form just as a female does a man and as baseness does the good." But each one desires most greatly that by which it is formed. Therefore, the greatest pleasure and the greatest desire are in the woman. This is confirmed by the fact that love is greater in women than in men.

2. In addition, a doubled pleasure is greater than a simple pleasure. But in men there is pleasure owing to the emission of the semen, but in women there is pleasure owing to the emission and reception [of the seed]. Therefore, etc.

To the contrary. Pleasure arises from the emission of the seed. Therefore, where the seed exists more truly, there pleasure exists more truly. But the seed exists more truly in the male, and this is why, etc.

To this, one must reply that pleasure and desire are greater in men than in women. And the reason for this is that if pleasure arises from a certain activity, there will be greater pleasure where that operation exists more formally. But pleasure follows the sex act, that is, the act of generation. Since, therefore, this operation exists more formally in a man than in a woman, he will have greater pleasure.

Moreover, the cause of desiring coition is heat and a large quantity of semen, because heat moves from the center to the circumference and this is why heat is the motive [cause] in the emission of semen. But heat is more abundant in the man than in woman, and so too is the semen. For although there may be a great deal [of semen] from the superfluous and undigested moisture, this is nevertheless evacuated in the menstrual flow, which does not occur in men, and pleasure is therefore more intense in men than in women, although perhaps its is more extensive in a woman than in a man, because she takes pleasure in several ways, namely, in both the emission and the reception of seed.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that matter is said to desire form, and a female a man, not because the female desires intercourse with the man but because it is understood that every imperfect thing naturally desires to be perfected, and a woman is an imperfect human [homo imperfectus] in comparison to the man, and this is why every woman desires to exist under [the category of] manhood [virilitas]. For there is no woman who would not wish to put off the basis of her femininity [ femineitas] and naturally to put on manhood. And in this same way matter desires to put on form, and it is the same for baseness.

2. To the second argument one must reply that pleasure is quantitatively greater in a woman, but is intensively greater in a man. As confirmation one must state that desire, like love, is of two types: namely, true and apparent. True love and desire are greater in the man, and this is why a truer pleasure exists in him. But apparent desire and love are greater in a woman owing to the weakness of her judgment. For just as matter desires to exist under every form, and thus that matter which exists under a noble form desires to exist under a vile one, so is it the same for a woman, who desires to exist under the one she does not have, since, owing to the weakness of her reason, she judges that the one she does not have is better than the one she has. And this is why she desires intercourse more often than a man, because when she is not joined in intercourse she desires to be joined in intercourse owing to the corruption of judgment, etc.

  • [1] As an aid to the reader, femina is consistently translated "female," and mulier as "woman." Vir is translated as "man," and mas as "male." The resultant awkwardness helps to point out A.'s need for a consistent vocabulary.
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