BY APRILL EMIG | Managing Editor | Orgasms are great. Hell, orgasms are the best. I rue the day when the closest I’ll get to the feeling is by sneezing. As a straight lady, it’s not like I have orgasms as often as I want (or, frankly, could).
Let me break it down: 57 percent of women have orgasms most or every time they have sex, while their partner climaxes 95 percent of the time. This is according to a survey of 2,300 women ages 18 to 40 conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine. If you’re reluctant to believe anything from Cosmo, consider the data from Indiana University’s national survey that found 84 percent of men orgasm with a familiar partner compared to 68 percent of women.
Enough with the statistics. While they lend an argument credibility, anecdata is more exciting and relevant because it’s about more than just getting off. The so-called “orgasm gap” is most prominent in heterosexual partnerships. It’s partially due to plumbing (the space between clitoris and vagina makes it difficult to stimulate the former while penetrating the latter) and partially due to a lack of knowledge, but a lot of it boils down to respect.
In the Cosmo survey, 74 percent of the women said they thought their partner wanted them to orgasm. That’s great, but 72 percent also said they’ve had a partner finish and then not help get her off. Look, I get that it’s not any man’s fault for this dearth of female orgasms—we were all born well after patriarchy was established—but we’re responsible for closing the gap now.
For much of history, no attention was paid to female orgasms. Here’s some super brief, simplified history: Back in the 1800s when women were diagnosed with “hysteria” the cure became a doctor stimulating her clitoris and vagina until she came. These wonderful doctor’s hands would eventually tire, thus leading to the first (archaic) vibrators.
This didn’t really translate into the bedroom, though. Hysteria and its “cure” were considered medical issues. It probably wasn’t until around the 70s, with access to contraception, that women began demanding their right to come. Our Bodies, Ourselves was printed and women were taking ownership of their bodies that had been used by men for so long. Marital rape was still legal in some states until the 1980s.
The irony in it all is that women have been inundated with a million ways to please our men (lest they leave us for a woman with more tricks and we die a lonely spinster death). What corollary do straight men have? Porn? If that doesn’t change soon, women are screwed (jack-hammer style, probably).
We need events like I Love Female Orgasm, which is happening tonight at 6 p.m. in the Ballroom. I hope I see plenty of straight men there because they’re the ones who need it most, but women also need to open themselves up, to tell their partners what they like (because 84 percent of college women have orgasmed and 39 percent need a toy or their hand to do so).
Sex and pleasure needs to stop being a guessing game, and it can only happen when we start being honest about something that’s easier to ignore (looking at you 74 percent of women who have faked it).
Sex is different for everyone. There’s no one rule a guy can follow to “make her come every time.” The only way we’ll know how to get better is by talking to our partners and being open to learning. Let the orgasms begin!