Filling The Orgasm Gap
ICYMI this is a TMI sex post.
In a perfect world, my partner and I would have sex twice a day. (Of course, I would have a partner in a perfect world.) We’d have sex in the morning when we woke up, and at night when we retired to bed.
At least twice a day, but no pressure if everyday didn't work out. Sex shouldn’t be a chore for anyone, and we all need some balance.
Sorry, is that TMI? I have a high libido, and I know--that isn’t something women typically talk about.
But maybe we should.
My libido means I am not the kind of person to fake a headache to get out of having sex in a relationship. In fact, I’m more likely to request it when I’m in some kind of pain. Though again, this is all in the context of a healthy relationship, because hey, I’m demisexual.
Of course, that’s also assuming that an orgasm is potentially coming, and with me, that can be a bit tricky. Again, not something we often talk about.
The truth is--like a lot of other women--I have a hard time getting off. Sometimes, my body feels utterly incapable of climaxing, and I feel like I somehow lost my orgasm.
Sometimes my orgasm gets lost for weeks.
I wouldn’t exactly call it fair. I’m 36-years-old and I didn’t actually have my first orgasm until I was 31. I had my first child at 32 and became a single mom at the same time. Since my young daughter has been my priority these past 4+ years, sex is typically off the table.
Just looking at my numbers, I have a lot of lost time and bad sex to make up for. The fact that I “lose” my orgasms at all is a bit frustrating.
It's just one more factor in the orgasm gap, I suppose.
In case you missed it, “the orgasm gap refers to the fact that in heterosexual sexual encounters, men have more orgasm than women.”
Somehow, men getting off during sex became the gold standard while a woman’s pleasure got left behind. And there are tons of reasons for this.
Here are some of the factors that have impacted me.
I have written a lot about the ways my strict Christian upbringing impacted my early sexual encounters. At first, I couldn’t even have sex because I battled vaginismus.
It took a lot of years for me to get used to painful intercourse. It took even more time for me to finally experience an orgasm, because I had developed the habit of stopping right before I climaxed.
Guilt and shame
I always stopped because I felt guilty, and I wasn’t particularly comfortable with my body or my sexuality. Of course, I wasn’t trying to be controlled by guilt or shame. I was simply very sheltered about sex and steeped in the church’s purity culture of the 90s.
It’s no secret that young people make bad decisions when they don’t know any better. My cluelessness about sex left me wide open for negative sexual encounters. I was never taught about consent, or even told I had the right to enjoy sex at all.
Let’s talk about [bad] sex.
Over the years, I’ve learned that bad sex typically means different things to men and women.
When men talk about bad sex, they often mean it was boring or maybe awkward.
For women, bad sex has meant something very different:
- Feeling pressured or coerced to have sex, or certain kinds of sex.
- Experiencing painful penetration.
- Having a demanding, selfish, or degrading partner.
- Rarely reaching orgasm ourselves while male pleasure became the clear priority.
- Being slut-shamed or body-shamed.
What about good sex?
I like to think that good sex is pretty damn simple. Good sex should be an exploration taken together where both partners feel the freedom to express themselves sexually without fear of judgment or ridicule. Good sex is satisfying to all parties involved. Maybe that includes an orgasm. Maybe not. It’s all up for discussion. At least, it should be.
Sex is supposedly the most intimate activity two people can do together, yet plenty of people are afraid to speak up during the act. Women are frequently reluctant to voice their needs due to our existing cultural script.
Both men and women have a responsibility to work together and flip the script to help fill in the gap and offer women more positive sexual encounters. But it starts with knowing the current state of affairs.
America may have come a long way when it comes to how we talk about men, women, and sex--but we still have a long way to go. As much as personal agency must play a role in healthier intimate relationships, it's worth mention that women are still frequently discouraged from sexual exploration, while men are encouraged to go wild.
Unsurprisingly, it helps a woman to have an encouraging partner.
Sexual myths inhibit women.
In the 1900s, Sigmund Freud taught that women who experienced clitoral orgasms over vaginal ones were immature and possibly mentally ill. Talk about a major setback. Since then, multiple studies have made it clear that most women need clitoral stimulation to climax, yet many people still insist there’s something wrong with a woman who struggles to experience a vaginal orgasms.
Worse yet, women today get shamed for having a preference for climaxing.
Likewise, many men are disinterested in giving a woman clitoral stimulation through oral sex, despite the fact men by and large expect their female partners to give them head. This plays into the myth that women are dirty down there, and as a result many women are too self conscious to enjoy receiving oral sex.
Women already face pressure everyday to match conventional beauty aesthetics. As they become sexually active, they discover that many men have strong opinions about the way a woman should look, feel, and smell when the clothes come off as well.
No one needs to be shamed for getting a bikini wax or for going natural. We don't need to be shamed for having sexual drives and urges in the first place. And we surely don't need all of the double standards sent our way.
How we fill the gap.
This is not a story to criticize men in the bedroom. Rather, this story is intended to encourage men to make themselves part of the solution. Women need to hear that we're safe to talk to our partners about our wants and needs when it comes to sex. We need partners who will listen to and value us as individuals worthy of your respect, time, and effort.
One surefire way to know if a partner is worth our time? They can handle these conversations about sex.
Most every hetero girl knows what it's like to have a sexual encounter with a man who takes whatever he needs without ever asking what we want. We end the date with a sudden case of carpal tunnel syndrome,TMJ, and zero orgasms for ourselves... while they climax three times thanks to our efforts.
At the same time, we women must be willing to speak up for ourselves--an admittedly tough and vulnerable task.
I didn't experience my first orgasm until I was 31, and that's because I finally decided to make a change. I not only asked my partner at the time to help me work through my sexual issues, but I also called him out gently to quit talking about how giving he was going to be in the bedroom--and you know, start giving what he said he would. It was an awkward, even cringe-worthy conversation at the time, and he was a little offended to feel like I was calling him out as being all talk.
To be fair, I was calling him out. And we did need to have that conversation twice. But after that, it was definitely worth the effort.
Like a lot of other issues, the first step toward change is to talk about it--especially when it's uncomfortable. Or TMI.