Once upon a time, an orgasm was simply the synonym of pure physical pleasure. Today an orgasm is the flag of feminist liberation (at least in matters of sexuality). Beginning with the first sexual revolution in the early 1900s, to the current 'sex-positive' feminist movements, a few men and many women have promoted sexual freedom as a component of women's emancipation, helping to redefine female sexuality no longer in relation to men’s pleasure but to the desire and sexual satisfaction of women.
Nevertheless orgasms remain an achievement yet to be accomplished for so women in an heterosexual relationship. Partially misunderstood, often problematic (and sometimes faked it), it is one of the factors contributing to gender inequality. 'Orgasm gap' is the expression that identifies the gap between men and women in reaching the peak of pleasure. Some recent research has attempted to quantify it, and the data show that men reach orgasm more often than women.
One study found that 91% of men vs. 39% of women report always or usually experiencing an orgasm with a partner. Another study by the Archives of Sexual Behavior evaluated the sex lives of over 52,000 American adults and found out that the group most likely to always orgasm during sex is the one made of straight men.
Why is there such a big difference? The number-one reason for the orgasm gap is our cultural ignorance on female bodies and women's sexual pleasure. The good news though, is that the orgasm gap can (and should) be closed. It is both a fun and rewarding challenge to undertake, one that women all around the world should practice daily. Closing the orgasm gap may be a long journey full of obstacles, but I am sure of one thing: pleasure is an endless exploration.
Here are four ways to try to close the orgasm gap.
1. Know your body
Nowadays, many women still have a bad relationship with their body, especially with the part that represents them most: the female organs. Unlike male organs, female ones are not visible and unfortunately, the knowledge of the female body passes almost exclusively through systematically male-oriented textbooks. For this very reason, women have a hard time getting to know their own bodies. As evidence, one study showed that over a quarter of women couldn’t locate the clitoris—their most essential orgasmic organ—on a diagram.
It is therefore no coincidence that many women reach adulthood without knowing what gives them pleasure (sometimes without ever having looked and examined their genitals closely), which then makes it very difficult to reach orgasm, especially with a partner. By improving the knowledge of your own body and learning to love yourself, the chances of having an orgasm during intercorse with a male partner will multiply.
2. Don’t fake it, but ask for what you want
On average, a woman needs about 15 minutes of constant and continuous stimulation (mainly on the clitoris) to reach orgasm, while an average penetrative intercourse lasts from 3 to 8 minutes. It is also worth noticing that, unfortunately, ejaculation often puts an end to the act of sex itself. Result: men come first and the female orgasm remains a distant desire. What to do then?
First of all, and absolutely important, do not fake pleasure. Secondly, ask your partner to focus on you and on what you like. We cannot expect them to know what we like if we are continually faking orgasms and reinforcing this behavior.
Talking about sex may be difficult for someone, but being able to have a mature, out-of-the-bedroom talk about your desires and fantasies will ensure that, going forward, you and your partner are on the same page about each other's pleasure. Truth is that each one of us is responsible for our own orgasm. We must take pleasure in our hands, discover it, experience it and make it our own, experimenting and exploring our body, before entrusting the reins to someone else.
3. It shouldn’t (only) be about penetration
All too often, sex ends at the exact moment in which the penis ejaculates, regardless of the fact that on the other side there is a vulva that is still unsatisfied and rightly frustrated.
In reality, sex is much more than penetration as it also includes all those practices that have been relegated to “foreplay”. For example, only 20% of women are able to reach an orgasm with only penetration. All the others need constant clitoral stimulation. So go ahead for cunnilingus, fingering, and all other possible stimulations of the clitoris, as they are no longer “foreplay", but real protagonists of sex, just like penetration.
4. Talk about your pleasure, loudly and proudly
We grew up with the idea that the male climax is central to sexual encounters. Nobody, not in school, not in the media and especially not in the pornography industry, ever said a word about female pleasure. But women’s sexual pleasure shouldn’t be inappropriate, shameful, or even surprising.
By freeing up the conversation around female pleasure we can help more women become sexually confident and feel comfortable exploring their own sexual desires. Talking about the orgasm gap and educating others on how to close it, is simply a push for progress that shouldn’t be deferred anymore.
Written by Paige Trimbly