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The anthropologist Margaret Mead concluded in 1948, after observing seven different ethnic groups in the Pacific Islands, that different cultures made different forms of female sexual experience seem normal and desirable. The capacity for orgasm in women, she found, is a learned response, which a given culture can help or can fail to help its women to develop. Mead believed that a woman’s sexual fulfillment, and the positive meaning of her sexuality in her own mind, depend upon three factors:1: She must live in a culture that recognizes female desire as being of value;2: Her culture must allow her to understand her sexual anatomy;3: And her culture must teach the various sexual skills that give women orgasms.

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