“Did you finish?” Too many of us have been asked this question and answered with a lie. And what for? For the fear of offending your partner? Because you just knew it wasn’t going to happen and you needed a break? Estimates tell us that straight women orgasm during 45-60% of their sexual experiences. There are so many valid reasons why a person with a vagina wouldn’t orgasm, so why do we insist on lying to spare the feelings of whoever we just satisfied sexually? It makes minimal sense, but even the most stringent of feminists and even the most sex-positive of us have told the white lie to spare the dignity of whoever we happen to be with. But at what cost to our own?
Chances are, you can explain why and how someone with a penis orgasms during penetrative sex. Biology textbooks and sex education tell us plain and simple: the male orgasm is the goal of sex and anything else before or after that is simply an added bonus and not worthy of too much attention or recognition. Why is the female orgasm so elusive? Both to come by and be talked about, it remains a shameful taboo swept under the carpet of sexual experience, only to be spoken about in hushed whispers a couple of bottles of wine in with your friends when you discover just how small a role it plays in so many of our sex lives.
“Since the female orgasm has little to no impact on the reproductive aspect of sexual intercourse, is it nothing more than a pleasant evolutionary relic?”
Upon doing some research and hearing an unmentionable amount of anecdotes, I’ve got a couple of theories as to why it carries this societal weight, especially in heterosexual intercourse. Statistics say that up to 15% of women never experience an orgasm, including during masturbation. Is it because we are, at the end of the day, programmed to reproduce and since the female orgasm has little to no impact on the reproductive aspect of sexual intercourse, is it nothing more than a pleasant evolutionary relic? Or is biology once again trying to explain away thinly veiled sexism by citing biological differences instead of actually exploring the issue? The ignorance surrounding the female orgasm is representative of how women’s bodies are predominantly viewed in a heterosexual context. As something to be used and there to provide the pleasure rather than receive it.
“Sigmund Freud did argue that the vaginal orgasm was the “superior and more mature” orgasm; I can only hope this is because he was a believer in what’s seldom is wonderful.”
Sure, it might have become a joke that some men have a complete aversion to locating the clitoris (which is how a huge portion of people with vaginas can exclusively reach orgasm), but when we peel back the layers of these biological blunders they seem to be sending a strong message of dismissal and shame towards the female form being truly appreciated and pleasured in the way that the male one has historically and consistently been.
The way that we have and talk about sex must change. We must take into account that whilst there is no fertility benefit to the female orgasm, we have evolved to be much more than simply tools of procreation. The complexity of sexual experience is not to be scoffed at, the health benefits of actually getting pleasure and sexual enjoyment from intercourse are just as important as the ability to reproduce. Hence, the clitoral orgasm and how people with vaginas actually have the potential to climax must be viewed as legitimate and healthy, and not dismissed by sexual partners who prefer to look after their own needs with short, penetrative sex. Sigmund Freud did argue that the vaginal orgasm was the “superior and more mature” orgasm, I can only hope that he was a believer in what’s seldom is wonderful.
It must be said that it’s not all bad news and whilst this is an underinvestigated area, what we do know is that the difference between the orgasm rate in heterosexual and homosexual relationships is absolutely startling. Research once again shows that 74-80% of women in lesbian relationships expect any given sexual experience to end in orgasm. Is it because having the same genitals as your partner makes it easier to know the ins and the outs, or are people with vaginas simply more tuned in to learning about their sexual partners pleasure? Or could it be perhaps when the biological, primal function of intercourse is removed entirely from a sexual experience, the concentration lands instead on actual sexual satisfaction and appreciation of ones’ partner. The critical difference appears to be expectation. If you go into a situation with the expectation of orgasm, as people in homosexual relationships report doing and assume that one will be given, your partner is likely to do the same and lead to a general improvement in the quality of the sex you’re having and the rate of orgasm from the perspective of both partners.
“Oftentimes I wonder whether the problem lies in the lack of orgasm itself or the fact that so many of us consistently lie about whether or not it even happened at all.”
Everywhere we see sex represented in mainstream media, it’s like the sex either stops when the man does or when the (more often than not) straight couple has a simultaneous, earth-shattering orgasm from thirty seconds of penetration. The reality of sex is much messier and much less equally satisfying across the board. That’s not to say that sex can only be good if you reach climax and it shoud most certianly not be the only goal of a sexual experience, but it certainly does play an important role in our individual perceptions of any given sexual experience. Oftentimes, I wonder whether the problem lies in the lack of orgasm itself, or the fact that so many of us consistently lie about whether or not it even happened at all. Surely in order to have sex with someone, some kind of trust and honesty must be established with them and with this comes an honesty over the kind of pleasure that you expect to receive from the experience. Whilst it may be the acceptable thing to focus solely on your partners’ pleasure, if they’re not doing the same for you it’s time to take control of the situation and make sure you get as much out of it as you’re giving. Enjoying your body and the way that you feel is nothing to be ashamed of, you deserve the respect of sexual satisfaction, without having to fake it.