The Orgasm Gap is Real
Gals, how are your orgasms? Maybe the better question is, are you having any?
Women are experiencing an orgasm gap. Well, not all women — just hetero women. They’re behind every other group who’s happily getting off, including lesbians, bisexual men and women, hetero men and gay men, according to a new study.
Hetero men were most likely to say they usually or always orgasm during sex (95 percent), followed by gay men (89 percent), bisexual men (88 percent), lesbians (86 percent), bisexual women (66 percent) and, finally, heterosexual women (65 percent).
This is depressing news.
So, which women are having their fair share of orgasms? The ones who get lots of oral sex (OK, well, duh), have longer sex (ditto), are in a satisfying relationship, ask for what they want in bed, praise their partner when he or she does something amazing, flirt with their partner, wear sexy lingerie, are open to new sexual positions and anal stimulation, act out fantasies, talk sexy and express love during sex.
They also kiss deeply and are manually or orally stimulated — ideally both — in addition to vaginal sex.
None of this comes as a surprise. And, this isn’t the first study to uncover the orgasm gap. But, still — why the gap?
A matter of control
Granted, some of it’s out of our control. If our partner doesn’t have the stamina to give us a good half hour or so, we gals lose out. And a satisfying relationship takes more than one person.
But a lot of it is actually in our control. Wearing sexy lingerie? No problem. Teasing and flirting with our partner, acting out fantasies, talking sexy and being open to new things? Why not? Asking for what we want?
And that’s where I think it comes to a grinding halt. For whatever reason, hetero women have a hard time asking for what they want — and not just when it comes to sex. They have a harder time expressing their needs and wants when it comes to divvying up chores and child care duties, too.
And who ends up suffering because they don’t speak up? You don’t need me to help you figure that one out.
Asking for what we want
So, why don’t we (I’m a hetero woman, thus the “we”) speak up? Is it our fault?
Yes and no. Yes, women can and should speak up. Yet as economics professor Linda Babcock and author Sara Laschever note:
The evidence is overwhelming that this a problem for which our entire society is to blame — that it is a socially constructed problem rather than something innate to females or just a blind spot women don’t recognize. As a society, we teach women that it is not appropriate or “feminine” for them to focus on what they want, assert their own ambitions, and pursue their self-interest — and we don’t like it when they do. From the time they’re very young, girls are taught to focus on the needs of others rather than on their own. The messages girls receive — from their parents and teachers, from the books they’re given, from the movies and television shows they watch, and from the behavior of the adults around them — can be so powerful that as women they may not even understand that their reluctance to ask for what they want is a learned behavior, and one that can be unlearned. They often don’t realize that they can ask for something they want, that asking is even possible.
You mean we can ask for what we want?
What a concept!
Beyond that, many women have a complicated relationship with their body: “Many women are dissatisfied with their appearance and weight, are less satisfied with their appearance than men and are more likely than men to be self-conscious about their bodies during sex. Body dissatisfaction interferes with ability to orgasm,” the study indicates. We’re even unhappy with the way our genitals look. (OK, granted, many men stress about the size of their dick, so there’s that.)
Those bad messages mess things up for us, which is why bi women miss out on orgasms, too; they internalize negative societal stereotypes.
Our lovers can’t solve any of this for us, although we can believe them when they tell us how much they love us just the way we are (assuming they aren’t turned off by our body).
And neither can Addyi, the “female Viagra.” But knowing what turns you on and how to express it to your partner works wonders, says psychologist Antonia Hall, author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life.
Turn ons and turn offs
First, we need to know what turns us on. This involves some curiosity and exploration. There’s no downside to this. Learning to speak up for what we want? That takes practice but it’s so doable once you know how to start.
As far as I know, the study doesn’t address monogamy. As I’ve written before, there’s really nothing about monogamy that works for women sexually (although it’s nice to have a partner around to help raise the kids, which is less about sex than about being a parent). We need novelty, and if we don’t have it, well … Which is why we are cheating about as much as men are.
But having an affair doesn’t guarantee more or better orgasms, and that’s really what we want.
There’s a lot going on in the world right now that’s really hard, which means we could all use some good self care. I can’t think of a more loving thing to give ourselves this year than orgasms — lots of them. Speak up and make them yours!
Want to learn how to talk about monogamy? (Of course you do!) Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). Order the book on Amazon, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.