This week the following article by Lisa Wade on alternet.org caught my attention: The Orgasm Gap: The Real Reason Why Women Get Off Less Often As Men and How to Fix It.
In short: according to a large-scale study in the US women have about one orgasm for every three orgasms a man has. In the article this orgasm gap is explained by the fact that we (= women) tend to tell ourselves the female body is not as capable to reach an orgasm as easily as a man’s body. We also still tend to think that there must be something wrong with us if we can’t reach an orgasm through intercourse – a persistent heritage from mr Sigmund Freund. Only about 25% of women seem to be able to do so. So we tell ourselves that climaxing during intercourse is not that important. Sex for us girls is about love, about giving pleasure, cuddling and making babies. Right? Or?
Women who sleep with women have about as many orgasms as men do who sleep with women. Women who masturbate don’t have any orgasm-problems either. Still, those women also say they have a hard time coming while having sex with a man… Isn’t that interesting?
Lisa Wade continues by adding social forces as an explanation:
“For one, we often bifurcate the sexual experience in line with gender norms: men are sexual (they experience desire) and women are sexy (they inspire desire). The focus on men’s internal wants and sensations also draws our attention to his satisfaction. Thus his orgasm, but not necessarily hers, becomes a critical part of what must happen for a sexual encounter to be successful and fulfilling. This is part of why intercourse – a sexual act that is strongly correlated with orgasm for men – is the only act that almost everyone agrees counts as “real sex,” whereas activities that are more likely to produce orgasm in women are considered optional foreplay.”
“Meanwhile, the idea that women’s primary goal in sex is to deliver a sexy body can focus her attention on how she looks instead of how she feels. This can lead to spectating, being worried about how she looks from her partner’s perspective, which decreases the chance a woman will have an orgasm. It can also lead to active avoidance of orgasm because of worries her face or body might do something unattractive.”
Then she explains that there is a difference in the amount of orgasms women have during random sexual encounters such as one-night-stands and while being in a relationship. Men tend to not bother when they have a random hookup. One guy says ‘ With a hookup I don’t give a shit’. So consequently women experience an orgasm during a random encounter a lot less.
“Expecting an orgasm from a male hookup partner is even seen as demanding and rude. One woman explained how she felt like she didn’t have the “right” to ask for an orgasm: “I didn’t feel comfortable I guess. I don’t know. I think I felt kind of guilty almost, like I felt like I was kind of subjecting [guys] to something they didn’t want to do and I felt bad about it.”
“Out of nerves, insecurity, or a lack of entitlement, women often prioritise men’s pleasure too. Speaking of hookups, one woman insists: “I will do everything in my power to, like whoever I’m with, to get [him] off.” My own research confirms that college women often fully accept that hookups usually don’t include orgasms for women. “Even if I was in charge,” said one, “I did not make sure I was being pleased.” “The guy kind of expects to get off,” said another, “while the girl doesn’t expect anything.”
In a relationship though, men put more effort into pleasing their girlfriends. That of course makes sense, because otherwise – when she becomes aware that she is sexually unhappy – she will either get it somewhere else, stop making his dinner and ironing his shirts or leave him.
Lisa Wade concludes her article with the solution that we should stop telling ourselves cq stop pretending that women are simply bad at having orgasms and that there is hope, because men are investing more in the pleasure of their steady female partners.
I agree with the explanations Lisa Wade offers in her article but in my opinion there is more to it. We need to start at the beginning of our sexual development.
Both boys and girls already touch their genitals when they are still in their mother’s womb. When they are small children, they look at their genitals and touch themselves and each other too. It is normal behaviour, driven by a natural curiosity and a basic instinct. It depends on how the environment – mostly parents – deal with this behaviour if the child can continue to freely explore its body and its lust or not. In stead of saying that it is okay what the child is doing, he/she should maybe go to his room though, in most cases parents will tell their children to stop doing that, that one does not do such a thing or even that it is abnormal. That’s where the first sexual blockade is being built, for both genders.
In most situations children will continue to masturbate anyway. It becomes this secret thing. For boys it is easier to discover what feels good because their penis is not so much ‘hidden’ as the clitoris. The penis gets stiff for one reason or another, he touches it, it feels nice, he continues to touch it. A girl might discover that lying on her belly or rubbing her vulva against something feels good. My generation and older might remember having to sit on the washing machine because otherwise it would start moving? That was a tickling experience, right? 😉 For us girls there is no visual sign like an obvious erection, so unless we are being properly informed about our sex organs early in life, we have no clue what bodypart (= clitoris) is the cause of that pleasurable sensation and what it is exactly what we are doing.
I had never used my fingers until I learned about masturbation and saw images of women touching themselves with their hands. I remember thinking: “But isn’t that something only boys do?” Even now female masturbation is still considered less normal than male masturbation. Men do it because they are filthy pigs, they can’t help themselves, they can’t control their erections and when they have one, they need to come. We all know and accept that. But women, no, they don’t do that. This is where the social force that Lisa Wade mentions, starts. Men desire sex, women are sexy. Men need to be satisfied, women satisfy.
Girls don’t explore their lust as easily as boys do (so they don’t know their body so well) and when they grow up society tells them they need to be desirable, sexy and willing to please men. To satisfy the male desire there is female nudity every where. Male nudity on the other hand, especially the penis, is obscene. Men are not allowed to be seen as sexy, desirable and willing to please. They are not sexually objectified as women are, so apart from not being used to it in the way we are used to seeing female nudity, women tend to not allow themselves to feel lust when seeing male nudity. I am only sexually attracted by men. Still, I get aroused more by seeing a video or a picture showing a pair of breasts than a penis. This could very well be explained because of the social conditioning mentioned above. We are allowed to be aroused by female nudity, not male nudity.
The social force continues: a woman who freely enjoys her sexuality, who knows what she wants and goes for it, is a slut or a nymphomaniac. A man who does the same thing is simply… a normal man. If you take all this in consideration, it should be quite obvious why there is an orgasm gap between men and women:
- Exploring your body as a child aka masturbation is still taboo
- Female masturbating is even less normal than male masturbation
- Consequently girls/women don’t know so well what they like and what they don’t like
- Girls/women learn male sexual satisfaction is more important than theirs – their body is not that capable of reaching an orgasm anyway
- Girls/women who do know what they want, how they want it and go for it, are sluts
- Consequently women don’t claim their right to have an orgasm.
And then there is the heritage of Sigmund Freud, who said that a woman who could not achieve an orgasm through intercourse with a man had a problem. This means that 75% of women has a sexual problem. This means that while having intercourse both men and women pressure themselves. She thinks she has to come just from being penetrated (so he must know how to give her an orgasm!) and in stead of using her fingers to additionally stimulate her clitoris, in her mind she focusses purely on that. He tells himself he has to make her come. Apart from sex like this not being much fun for either one of them, being so wrapped up in her head will certainly won’t increase her chances to having an orgasm.
So what is the solution? Should we just be happy that some men are willing to invest more into our pleasure – when they are in a relationship with us – and hope more will follow? Should we be angry at them for being more able to take what they want without returning the favour and not feeling bad about it? Honestly, I don’t think so. In fact, I think women should take men as an example. These are my solutions:
- Masturbate! Masturbate yourself silly! Find out what you like. Nothing will happen to you, your hands won’t fall off and your won’t turn blind. You will only get to know your body and have lots of fun.
- Ignore the social forces. People call you a slut? Poor them! They probably never had an ounce of fun in their lives.
- Be responsible for your own orgasm! He certainly takes responsibility for his, so you can too. Don’t expect a man to know how you can come. Even if he is experienced and loves to please women – and there are enough of them out there – we don’t all tick the same. Show and tell him what you like, use your own fingers to stimulate your clit, use a toy, think of images that arouse you. There is nothing wrong with that!
- An orgasm is an orgasm, no matter how you achieve it.
My last tip is especially for the random hookup situation:
You want to have sex with a guy you’ve just met and you want to have an orgasm? Then claim it! Tell him you desire him, you want him to pleasure you first (orally, manualy, there are enough options hat work rather quickly if you are properly turned on) and then he can have his way with you. If he does not want to, then say “bye bye!”.
But really, dear guys who don’t give a shit about pleasuring a hookup girl: isn’t sex much more satisfying for you when a woman comes in your presence? Don’t you want to experience what a post-orgasm-woman is like during sex? Isn’t a satisfied woman the cherry on top of your exciting hookup?