Lesbian vs. Straight Sex: Research shows that the orgasm gap is a non-issue in lesbian relationships — as it essentially disappears. With lesbian women experiencing orgasm 86% of the time. Interestingly, men’s orgasm rates were unaffected by their sexual orientation.
Women Alone vs. With a Partner: Women have significantly more orgasms while masturbating vs. while with a partner.
So — if lesbian women and masturbating women are having more orgasms than women when they have sex with men… what’s causing this gendered gap in heterosexual sex?
Though it could appear that penile involvement is to blame — the orgasm gap is a cultural problem.
Here are just a few reasons why the orgasm gap is as complex as it is cultural.
As a society, we overvalue penetrative sex. Just 3 to 10% of women reliably orgasm from penetration alone, yet society consistently presents us with images of women having mind-blowing orgasms from intercourse in movies, porn and on TV.
Our language tells a similar story. We use the words ‘sex’ and ‘intercourse’ interchangeably and clitoral stimulation is considered as ‘foreplay’ and not part of the main event. We have countless nicknames for ‘penis’ and few (if any) for the clitoris. All of this results in misinformation, false expectations and couples thinking they’re doing it wrong.
There are endless cultural reasons that contribute to the orgasm gap, but they all seem to stem from our denial of female pleasure. To start, sex education doesn’t usually focus on pleasure. Growing up, our definition of ‘sex’, begins with a male getting an erection and ends with ejaculation. Our society judges women for enjoying sex, having casual sex and having multiple sexual partners. And yet, being able to openly communicate with your partner is key to reaching orgasm.
You can see why it could be difficult to explicitly ask for something that our society is in denial of. Additionally, many women are plagued by self-consciousness during sex… and it’s basically impossible to have an orgasm while sucking in your stomach. Finally, reaching orgasm requires a mindfulness that few of us have mastered in our daily life, let alone our sex lives.
In an interview with Cosmo, Nicki Minaj made explained that she demands orgasms from her sexual partners. She also explained that she teaches her friends how to demand (and receive) orgasms from their male partners too: “I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that. I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life. In her life! That hurts my heart. It’s cuckoo to me.”
Closing the orgasm gap
Closing the orgasm gap comes down to education, clitoral knowledge, and the willingness to apply that knowledge.
To close the orgasm gap, we have to hold clitoral stimulation and penetration as equal. Most women require clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, and not penetration alone. Both women and men must understand this and really apply this knowledge.
Because when it comes to the orgasm gap, the work is far from over — not just in raising awareness of it’s existence — but in exploring the deep and complex reasons as to why it’s so difficult for women to ask for and receive orgasms. We must give people the tools they need to explore their own sexual pleasure, and the confidence to communicate that with their partners.
Adding toys into the mix can be a fantastic way to show your partner exactly what works for you and to increase your level of intimacy. Normalizing and using vibes is a simple way to begin closing the gap; vibes are a great addition to foreplay and can be used externally during penetrative sex.