Gender inequalities abound in our society. The gender pay gap, for starters, shows that men's work is valued more than women's. Women hold less than 20% of congressional seats in the United States, which creates a huge disparity in political representation. Women are significantly underrepresented as film and television writers and directors, and as artists in our nation's museums. They are also more likely than men to live in poverty. The list about disparities between men and women can go on, but here I want to focus on another gender gap, ideologically connected to these, but definitely less talked-about. The orgasm gap.
Yes, inequality doesn’t end in the boardroom; it's there in the bedroom too. The term orgasm gap, also known as the Big-O gap, refers to the disparity between heterosexual men and women, which concerns sexual satisfaction and in particular the difference in reaching orgasm during sex.
The orgasm gap is a rigorously documented disparity in the percentages with which men and women achieve orgasm. Based on a study conducted by Durex in the Netherlands and Belgium, research shows that almost 75% of women do not orgasm during sex, whereas only 28% of men say they don’t always climax. It doesn’t happen only there. In a study published on the American Association of University Women examining about 800 college students, 39% of women and 91% of men said that they usually or always experienced orgasm in partnered sex. A difference of 52%, that is the orgasm gap. Yet 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. To make the matter worse, not only do women climax less, but many of their male partners are unaware of the fact that this is happening.
Some argue that this gap exists because it takes women a long(er) time to reach the orgasm, others suggest that women don't orgasm as often because we don't "need it" the way men do or that women are naturally more generous as sexual partners. Some may even suggest that women aren't interested in sexual climax.
All that is absolutely not true. There are many reasons why we still face orgasm gap, but predominantly it is because female pleasure is all too often seen as just a “bonus”. The orgasm gap exists because most men don't care about women's pleasure and satisfaction. To prove it, a research led by sociologist Elizabeth Armstrong and her colleagues, found that as a woman's care increases in a man, the orgasm gap narrows.
Another reason could be the idea that it’s physiologically easier for men to orgasm - a “fact” that most people don’t think twice about. But women are not not more “complicated” than men, yet they’re having less pleasurable sex and report a lack of respect and satisfaction in their sexual experiences. Even on dates, women often feel pressured to provide pleasure.
Women’s obligation to provide sexual satisfaction, and the idea that their own pleasure is an optional extra, is deeply ingrained in the way we talk about sex. There’s still a lot of work to be done, both in schools and in the mainstream culture. But it is also up to women to value themselves, ourselves, to own up our desires and our right to pleasure and demand it from our partners.
Written by Paige Trimbly