Gentlemen, we suck at sex

Jachimike
Jachimike
Jul 22, 2019 · 8 min read
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Honestly, before I started writing this article, I don’t think I really understood the extent to which women have been suffering — and I probably still don’t. Sex is such a beautiful thing and the idea that a significant amount of women have, for so long been tolerating, instead of enjoying sex is appalling to me.

For decades, post-colonisation especially, conversations around sex have largely been an interesting subject. Even a casual look through Nigerian society will leave you convinced that we are a conservative society; indeed, sex is a subject that is often left out of civil discourse, largely due to the influence of religion and colonisation. Because of this exclusion of sex from ‘serious’ conversation, sexual education tends to be relegated to the fringes of intellectual rigour. Music, movies and pornography tend to be the dominant forms of sex (education) that young adults (and even older adults) interact with. It is here that the perceptions and expectations of sex are framed and often, we are found wanting.

This has affected the way we interact with sex, especially heterosexual relations. Despite all the sex we’re having, women simply aren’t having enough orgasms. Some research tells us that 33% to 50% of women have orgasms infrequently and are dissatisfied with how often they get orgasms and only 25% of women have consistent orgasms. In contrast, 95% of heterosexual men have orgasms. Ninety five percent. What this means is that in a line up of 100 women and 100 men, if you ask the women to describe, in general, their sexual experiences, 25 of the women will respond “meh. It’s alright” and they’ll actually mean, “it’s actually been pretty good”. However, if you ask the men, virtually all 100 of them will say “meh. It’s alright” and they’ll actually mean “Oh damn, it’s largely been great”. And while I recognise that for men, having an orgasm does not necessarily mean a great experience, that our rate of orgasm is so much higher than women’s is a troubling indication of how men’s orgasms seem to be the centre of heterosexual sex.

Why is there such a significant difference between heterosexual male pleasure and heterosexual female pleasure? One reason is that men simply do not care about the female orgasm. It may not be conscious nonchalance, to be sure, but it is nonchalance. Because it takes more effort and/or work to help women achieve orgasm and conversely, so little time for men, it’s not difficult to see how men stop all sexual activity as soon as their orgasm has been achieved. We confirm this when we see that 86% of lesbian women consistently have orgasms. This sexual dissatisfaction is most notable when we see that women are the driving force for the sex toy industry.

You would expect women to speak up about something so obviously pervasive, wouldn’t you? Women are having relationships with men, men they have an emotional connection to/with but there is obviously a missing part of the relationship: the sex. And it is not crazy to see why. Much of the imagery around heterosexual intercourse is centred not just around the male gaze (and as such, male pleasure) but also around the penis. For decades, the general consensus was that the woman’s g-spot (and the woman orgasm) was a myth. Think about how many times you have heard some variation of “it does not exist, much like the female g-spot” in Hollywood/media. It’s often used as the punchline of some joke but that relatively harmless joke is something that seeped into media from our collective consciousness.

The restrictive nature of society around women has largely prevented this conversation from happening on as large a scale as it should be. Virginity culture has [sometimes, literally] prevented women from truly exploring the full experience of sex and their sexuality — this has had profound consequences. We have seen women treated and portrayed as conquests and sexual objects for the pleasure of men, where women can’t enjoy sex too much otherwise, they might be labeled ‘sluts’, ‘whores’ and/or a host of other pejoratives. Where women that have had some taste of sexual exploration are subconsciously cajoled into revealing precious little about that part of themselves in pursuit of the holy grail of marriage. Even something as relatively simple as female masturbation was not as mainstream an idea as male masturbation and even today, many women report not masturbating at all. Little wonder that the experiences of women in sex have largely been neutral or negative.

A number of inaccuracies have fuelled the current nature of our interactions. Consider how the general view of men’s notorious infidelity is one of acquiescence. “That’s how men are”, “Men are hunters, they can’t help themselves”, crafts a narrative that portrays men as these insatiable sex hunters whose desire for sex cannot be satisfied by one woman. This is a view that should easily be dispelled but for some reason, has consistently maintained life. Women have an organ whose purpose is exclusively for their pleasure. It is an interesting evolutionary design but the clitoris is the most powerful sex organ in human anatomy. Through it, women are able to have countless orgasms and most importantly, they, unlike men, tend to lack a refractory period. Theoretically, women can have limitless orgasms. This means then that narrative is on faulty ground. It is often shown that sex is something that women do simply for men’s pleasure; you see how media shows how female characters threaten men with a lack of sex even though it is women that should be the biggest beneficiaries of sexual experiences.

It seems then that women have the ability to not only enjoy sex as much as men but possibly even more than men can. And yet, this intense sexual organ is largely ignored by men in sexual experiences. Many people are under the impression that penetration is the most important way for women to have orgasms and who can blame them? How many times is the clitoris even focused on in media? Most of the time, the image portrayed is one of penetrative intercourse in the throes of romantic passion. So much so that there was a point where giving women pleasure with your tongue was seen as an unacceptable request.

“Why don’t you just tell your man then?” is a valid question. Why not? Sex does not occur in a vacuum. The same reason that prevents women from driving that conversation about men’s sexual inadequacy is that very same reason that [generally] prevents women from having that specific conversation about sex with their partners. Sex is seen as one of the areas of society that defines masculinity and the pride that comes along with that is one that is fragile and prone to destruction. How can you be a man if you can’t perform?

This is where the inherent contradiction of misogyny plays out. On one hand, there is a natural realisation that sexual experiences would be better if both participants are enjoying sex to their full (or close to their full) capacity and that it makes relationships better and stronger. Where you want women to be more vocal and less stationary during sexual intercourse. However, you also have the aspect of misogyny that also wants to limit women’s sexual experiences, where deeply dehumanising and frankly evil practices like FGM actually seek to limit women’s pleasure. Where young girls are ‘betrothed’ to much older men and where many men actively make comments about wanting to marry a ‘good girl’ as though goodness is predicated on the desire and ability to enjoy sex.

We then get a compromise. Men are free to enjoy sex, women then free to make men feel like they were enjoying sex. This very nicely solved the paradox that faced society. That is why sexual experiences are visualised and shared as conquests for men. In pornography, that is centred largely around the male gaze, visualise the images you often see as it relates to intercourse. It tends to be a relentless thrusting experience like a hammer to a nail where the woman is held in many frankly, ridiculous positions and this woman, in all of this has an orgasm. This clearly uncomfortable situation is designed exclusively to portray sex as some sort of war where the man is the victor and the woman, happily vanquished. This has allowed society to ‘clear its conscience’ so to speak and is why despite the clear conditioning of women when it comes to sex, men still have the audacity to ask “why do women just lie there in bed?”

However, this does not come as a shock. A society that relegates women to the sidelines in issues of justice, equality and liberty will undoubtedly relegate the pleasure of women as well, no matter how ‘mundane’ it may seem. Cue: the sexual revolution and the explosion of interest in the woman’s sexual experience. A significant part of the feminist revolution is the destruction of the unspoken rules that prevent women from speaking about and enjoying sex. Here, women assume the control that society has tried to wrest from them and it spills into the general conversation about women’s equality as well.

That means unravelling not just the fact that women are having inadequate sex, but the factors that contribute to that and our roles in that. It means unravelling the society that is more open about sex and sexual health, one that is less focused on men and more focused on a balanced and healthy relationship. It means that whenever a woman is enjoying sex, your first thought should not be about labelling her with what you think is a derogatory term but instead revelling in the experience with her. It means instead of waiting for her to tell you what she likes, you should be more vocal and proactive about asking her what she likes, because you know that the scales are already tipped in your favour and you’re doing what you can to balance the scales, making the experience more worthwhile for her.

More importantly, it is pertinent that you realise that this is not merely a sex thing. It is representative of a far deeper, and more pervasive problem about how our society treats and regards women and, in addition to closing the gap on women’s sexual experiences, there are deep seated issues of justice and equality that we have to resolve and the two are undoubtedly connected. The pursuit of pleasure is an ideal that men have had unrestricted access to for centuries and the data tells us that it has not been an equivalently good experience for women. Women deserve more than this, women deserve to have their desires have as much weight as men’s and it is a goal that we should actively work towards.

Mensplainr

Mansplaining, but to men.

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