Sex advice: Weird orgasm myth women believe

I’m having brunch with a new friend in a crowded Surry Hills cafe. She’s bisexual, but is in her first relationship with another woman, and can’t stop gushing about it.

“I used to think I was asexual,” she tells me.

“My boyfriend made it feel as though it was really difficult to get me off. I just assumed it meant I didn’t like sex, you know?”

She eyeballs the kids that have just been seated next to us, then leans across the table, gesturing for me to meet her halfway.

“But now …” she begins in a lowered voice.

“All we do is have sex. And I’ve been surprising myself with how quickly I’ve been orgasming. She can get me there in just a couple of minutes, it’s incredible!”

I’m not surprised by this revelation.

Women have been writing to me for years, convinced there’s something wrong with them because they can’t climax with their male partners.

When I ask these same women, “Do you orgasm when you masturbate?” they almost always answer, “Yes”.

This is because the problem isn’t with their ability to reach climax, or even that the mechanics of getting there are particularly complex. Conversely, research indicates women are able to achieve The Big O incredibly efficiently and reliably during solo sex – usually in as little as four minutes.

It’s also notable that the orgasm gap (the stats you’ve no doubt heard mentioned here before: straight men get off 95 per cent of the time during sex, while their family partners do so just 65 per cent of the time) doesn’t extend to gay women; the same study found lesbians climax almost as frequently as heterosexual men.

Despite an entire industry built around the idea that getting women off is a laborious and complicated task requiring the support of supplements, e-courses and clinical intervention, and the proliferation of online memes joking about how hard it is for men to find the clitoris, the female orgasm isn’t elusive.

Women don’t have an inherently low interest in sex – myriad studies have confirmed we’re at least equally as interested in it, if not more so, than men – and our anatomy isn’t difficult to navigate.

However, we live in a culture that would sooner dupe people with vulvas into believing their pleasure is mysterious and complicated, than address the fact most men are neither skilled at nor invested in pleasing them.

Sex education instils this complacency in boys by teaching them about wet dreams, erections, and ejaculation, but not of the ways they can reciprocate pleasure.

Conversely, girls learn their bodies are vessels for discomfort and pain – we warn them about menstrual cramps and childbirth, and tell them in hushed voices losing their “virginity” (a heteronormative construct if ever there was one) will probably hurt; but never of the fact their bodies can experience joy, release, and satisfaction.

It follows logically, they grow into women who have sex that’s not only largely non-orgasmic, but, for three out of four of them (according to an estimate by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists), will be physically painful at some point, and only half of those affected will ever speak up about it.

It’s ironic, really, that heterosexual men joke about being able to turn gay women (who have the most orgasms of any group of women) straight, while simultaneously failing the very women relying on them for pleasure.

Of course, straight men are rarely encouraged to interrogate what they bring to the table sexually in the ways women are. There are no supermarket shelves lined with products to fragrance penises like there are for vulvas; no magazines spouting “oral sex tips to keep your girlfriend interested” like the ones most women grew up with – warning us we’d better hone our oral skills or risk losing his attention.

Comedian Amy Schumer jokes about this confidence gap in her Netflix stand-up, The Leather Special.

“Have you ever had a guy c*** in your mouth and go, ‘Does … it … taste … OK? I haven’t been drinking a lot of water and I’m worried’.

“No! That would never happen. Because, men, you aren’t raised to hate yourself. They’re just like, ‘Everything you do is a miracle!’ And you’re like, ‘Yeah, everything I do is a miracle!’”

This ultimate consequence of this ideology, is a false dichotomy in which all sexual issues lead back to women.

If a woman’s male partner doesn’t get off, she internalises this as a personal failure – “I’ve let myself go/I’m not sexy/he doesn’t desire me”, she’ll tell herself. However, if she is the one who doesn’t climax, the problem is also with her – she must be sexually defective, “difficult” or have a low libido.

In reality, there is no pathological issue inhibiting women from enjoying sex. The path to the female orgasm is neither lengthy, nor complex, as we’ve been hoodwinked to believe, certainly not if the high orgasm rates among lesbians are anything to go by.

Undoubtedly, there’ll be men reading who’ll insist I’m wrong, that getting women off is far more complicated and time-consuming than I’m indicating.

Some of them may even declare my very suggestion they’re not doing enough is misandry; because in a world where men are taught everything they do is “a miracle”, as Schumer puts it, critical feedback from women is routinely labelled man-hating.

And to those men I’d say, you’re kind of proving my point, guys.

Consider ditching your ego and making a conscious investment in learning about your partner’s anatomy, turn-ons and desires. Because if you don’t, there’s a queer woman out there who probably will. Just sayin’.

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Originally published as Nadia Bokody: Weird orgasm myth women believe