Why is There a Pleasure Gap?
Sex. It’s at the core of our humanity. A necessary part of the evolution of our species. It’s how we connect and bond as humans, and oh yeah- it’s a whole lot of fun.
Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of gaps when it comes to pleasure between men and women. A little disclaimer; this article is addressing these disparities in the context of heterosexual relationships.
In fact, the likelihood of orgasm for women increases when they are in a same sex relationship.
While orgasms aren’t the only barometer of good sex, they do give a good indication of satisfaction. One study found that amongst college students, 91% percent of men usually or always reached orgasm during sex with a partner, while the same was true for only 39% of women.
Another study from The Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasmed during sex, while only 65% of heterosexual women did.
That’s a big gap, and there isn’t a straightforward answer about why this is happening. But there are many factors that come into play.
Quickies aren’t Cutting It
The female body works differently than the male. While there are of course individual differences, women tend to need more time to warm up- so that they can fully ease into the moment.
An all too common reality for women, especially in their younger years, is moving right into penetrative sex. Maybe they make out for a few minutes, touch a boob here and there, and then wham! Straight to it. While this may work for some people, most women need plenty of foreplay and sensual touch before any penis in vagina action (or whatever you choose to put there). On that note, there are plenty of ways to get it on sans pentration.
The Trauma is Real
The World Health Organization, WHO, claims that one in three, or 35% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner or non-partner in their lifetime. This gutwrenching reality leaves so many women feeling vulnerable, hurt, ashamed, and traumatized.
When someone experiences sexual trauma, the body may associate any sort of physical contact as “bad”, leaving people feeling numb and wanting to avoid sex. Or on the other hand, engage in lot of sex that ultimately leaves them feeling devoid of connection and pleasure. Victims of sexual violence may be left feeling unsafe in their bodies, as well as with other people- especially in an intimate setting.
It’s not just sexual trauma that interferes with people’s sex lives. Other forms of abuse, as well as trauma from birth and injuries can cause a disconnection from the body, and a habit of “checking out” physically.
Outside of trauma, the stresses and anxieties of everyday life can totally dampen our sex lives, and make it difficult to reach orgasm.
Here Cums the Patriarchy
Patriarchal structures are alive and well in many (most) societies. They infiltrate our government, our education, and our relationships. Part of closing the pleasure gap, means breaking the traditional patterns of hierarchy and shame that carry over into our sex lives. Feminist movements have fought for decades to help dismantle these systems, and bring more equality overall- especially in the bedroom.
The Clit is Not That Hard to Find
Remember your sex-ed classes in high school health class? Because I sure don’t. What I do know, is that they sure didn’t discuss the complex anatomical structure that is the clitoris and the many different ways women can reach orgasm.
Lack of knowledge and education on anatomy lends to the confusion many men experience when facing a vagina. Talk to your kids, talk to your friends, talk to your man- the more we normalize these conversations, the better sex we’ll all be having!
Taking Your Pleasure into Your Own Hands (Pun Intended)
My mom always told me, “You can’t tell someone else what you like, without figuring it out on your own first!” Here at Intimina, we are all for masturbation (). Whether that be with a toy, or good old hands, exploring your body and figuring out what makes you tick is an important piece in cultivating a thriving sex life.
Communication and Exploration are Key
Now that you know what you like, or are at least figuring it out, you need to communicate this with your sexual partner. Try having these conversations before things get hot and steamy, as it can be difficult or daunting to do so in the moment. If your partner loves and respects you, they will want to hear what you have to say.
Leave time for exploration and experimentation. It’s a wild world out there when it comes to our sex lives, and the options are endless. Exploring kinks and turn ons helps to break down stigma, and release shame you may be carrying around your sexuality.
Now let’s get to work, and close that gap people!
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.