Sex, what’s the big deal? Well, simply put, it’s fun and can make you feel great. When done right sex can be many things; exhilarating, sensual, romantic, kinky, orgasmic. With all this good to be had, why do so many women end up unsatisfied?

A recent study has shown that the pleasure disparity between genders is a very real thing. Although orgasms are not the be-all and end-all of sex, they’re a good place to start when understanding this disparity. Stats say that 95% of straight men and 89% of gay men always orgasm during sex compared to only 86% of lesbian women and 65% of straight women. There are a plethora of reasons for this gap but let’s start with the most obvious: different people need different things from sex to reach orgasm. If direct penetration gets you off that’s awesome but allow me to let you in on a little secret, for a lot of people with vaginas direct clitoral stimulation is necessary to reach orgasm.

Different people need different things from sex to reach orgasm.

Have you ever masturbated and climaxed in 45 seconds flat but have been having sex with someone for 45 minutes and there’s no orgasm in sight? Don’t think there’s anything wrong with you, you’re likely just not being stimulated how you like and/or need to in order to reach orgasm. The same can be said for enjoyable sex altogether. If you love the way you feel when you’re pleasuring yourself, but just can’t match that feeling with sex with another, you may need to switch it up.

Society, it would seem, loves to blame women for their own lack of pleasure. “She’s just a tease”; “she takes too long to finish”; “she fakes orgasms so sex will stop”; and (my personal favourite) “the clitoris is just too hard to find”. Put your hand up if you’ve ever heard any of your mates say this about women, or you’ve had those thrown at you after unsatisfying sex. Yeah, me too.

There is a distinct lack of knowledge around female pleasure and sex therapist Gabrielle Lawrie says that it’s due to unsatisfactory sexual education in schools, “Schools only feel safe to teach about reproduction and maybe some condoms to ward off STIs, they don’t really teach anything about pleasure.” She argues that this doesn’t have such an adverse effect on boys as they have testosterone to aid them in sexual experiences, “their [male] bodies – a lot of them you can’t totally generalise – are like a firecracker. You light a fuse and they’re ready.” Women’s bodies, however, need about 20-30 minutes of stimulation to reach a similar point of horniness. If no one is taught this difference, and the importance of foreplay, then sex can end up unenjoyable for everyone. Unenjoyable sex naturally leads to wanting to stop, and it’s often at this point when orgasms are faked, and that ‘orgasm’ gap grows.

We just can’t win. It feels like there is so much standing in between women and good sex. How do we combat all that is against us and just have the amazing sex we deserve?

Another issue with female pleasure is the presence of ‘slut-shaming’ throughout schools, adult life, and of course university. Slut-shaming is the notion of judging women for being sexually active and then owning this identity in a social setting. In other words, slut-shaming exists to judge women for, shock horror, having and enjoying sex. Gabrielle says slut-shaming is just one factor that has worked to repress women’s sexuality for centuries. “It’s just not true,” she says, “it doesn’t make anyone a good or bad person depending on how many people they’ve slept with.” The same goes for women who have had too little sex who may be deemed prudish. Gabrielle places part of the blame on film, television, and music for pushing this narrative onto women “we’ve got to get away from the Madonna/Whore dynamic. There’s definitely a lot of music and movies in popular culture where either you’re a Madonna, you’re sweet and virginal, or you’re a whore.”

We just can’t win. It feels like there is so much standing in between women and good sex. How do we combat all that is against us and just have the amazing sex we deserve?

The first step, says Gabrielle, is building your self-esteem, “We just have to not buy into the people that shame or have beliefs based in fear.” Easier said than done maybe, but finding self-worth from within rather than whether or not someone thinks you’ve had too much or too little sex will go a long way in improving your confidence both in and out of the bedroom.

Another important part of sex that is famously overlooked is good communication. Gabrielle advises people who are having sex to talk with each other openly about their desires, comfort levels, the way they like to receive and give sexual pleasure, and just about everything in between. Masturbate, explore your body and learn what you like, then take that knowledge into your next sexual encounter and guide your sexual partner through it. Open communication about what feels good means you should hopefully be finishing sex off with a bang and not a fizzle.

Masturbate, explore your body and learn what you like, then take that knowledge into your next sexual encounter and guide your sexual partner through it.

The easiest and probably most effective way to improve your sex life is simple: knowledge! Gabrielle says things like SHAG Week, attending workshops, seeing a sex therapist, and reading books and articles from expert sources are all great way to learn new things about yourself and others, and ensure that you’re having the best sex you can. Of course, it isn’t always that easy. Realistically there may always be barriers in place to stop women from openly communicating their desires with sexual partners, or feeling uncomfortable with owning their sexual pleasure, but education is the best place to start.

If the issues raised in this article have affected you, there are a range of support services at the University available regarding sexual health and safety. Click here for advice and information about sexual health, here for support around sexual harassment and safety, and here for counselling information. If you are an LGBTQI+ student who is in need of support visit this page for resource options.

It’s SHAG Week at the University of Newcastle from the 2nd to the 6th of March! There’s a bunch of activities and workshops to attend throughout the week which you can see here.

 

Feature Image via: Gender Photos – Vice

 

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