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The orgasm gap refers to the difference in the percentage of men and women who report having orgasms during heterosexual partner sex. Most heterosexual men report that they orgasm nearly every time they have sex, whereas most heterosexual women do not experience the same thing. About 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone — that is without the extra help of sex toys, hands or tongue, whereas 10 to 15 percent never climax under any circumstances. Lesbian women report higher rates of orgasms during partner sex. For the purpose of this piece, I’d rather not bore you with statistics, which could be easily found online.

There are many reasons for this gap and it is wider in people having just hookup relations than people involved in long term relationships, which is understandable. Getting to a place of comfort takes time and besides, women primarily orgasm from masturbation. As someone who talks about sex and female pleasure online, I’ve had many girls in their 20s message me and ask about masturbation, how to have orgasms, and whether or not to buy vibrators. Many of them have told me that they’ve never seen themselves down there. This comes as no surprise to me, I remember a time when my roommate told me just about the exact same thing. I was shocked then. She almost proudly proclaimed that she had never seen herself down there. Imagine emerging into your adulthood and becoming sexually active, with that low a level of understanding about your own body. The truth is that this situation is sadly, a lot more common than we think.

“When she’s abandoned her moral center and teachings…when she’s cast aside her facade of propriety and lady-like demeanor…when I have so corrupted this fragile thing and brought out a writhing, mewling, bucking, wanton whore for my enjoyment and pleasure…..enticing from within this feral lioness…growling and scratching and biting…taking everything I dish out to her…..at that moment she is never more beautiful to me. ” — Marquis de Sade

The idea of purity is associated with sexuality is probably one of the most harmful notions that can be drilled into a young woman’s mind, and that is a rampant notion in most parts of the world. We are taught from the beginning that being sexual would reduce us to objects, that we must always be respectful and hide our bodies. The body shaming extends to conversations about sex, women’s bodies and pleasure and never taken into consideration when educating children about sex.

Sexual liberation begins with understanding your own body, your needs, and defining what you want.

While talking about the orgasm gap we have to ask ourselves- is hookup culture inherently liberating? In a culture where women have never been taught to communicate their needs, boundaries and desires, the growth of hookup culture is almost worrisome. Do these interactions promote a woman’s sexual agency, the understanding of her needs or does it put her in risky situations she is not prepared for? It really could be either.

Simple solutions for bridging the gap

Women have never been encouraged to acquire or possess this knowledge of themselves. Fulfilling sexual interactions are created between two individuals who are aware of their desires. Before sharing sexual desires, women need to discover, define, and express themselves. The systemic barriers that prevent this are a long way from being dismantled, but there are some simple fixes that can take us towards closing this gap.

To start with, masturbation can be cultivated as a practice. Bringing yourself to orgasm will enable you to figure out your body, and how to best pleasure yourself. These techniques can be incorporated into partner sex. For example, you may find that it is easier to have an orgasm in a certain position, or with a certain kind of stimulation. This information can be very helpful in achieving orgasms with a partner.

Intercourse can be seen as foreplay for masturbation.

Another shift can be made at the level of our perspective on sex. Most women cannot orgasm from penetration alone and emphasising that as a “main event” of a sexual encounter can be limiting. A major issue is also with fixing the expectations placed on men to “perform”. There is a problematic cultural mindset that dictates that men must “give” women orgasms, and this links almost directly to a man’s ego. Women are aware of this, and will often sideline their needs to stroke a man’s ego, this manifests in the fact that many women feel pressured to fake their orgasm.

Recognising that an orgasm isn’t a gift from a man, it is rather something that your own body is capable of.

Creating a healthier, more communicative environment can go a long way in fixing that. Maximising your pleasure requires your involvement, your exploration. It also requires mutual effort. Pleasure education is a very important subject. We need to be having conversations about pleasure with young people, we need to speak to our friends and with our partners openly. Hopefully, 2019 will be the year that we close this orgasm gap.

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