“Was it as good for you as it was for me?” The post-coital question gets asked so often, it’s practically a pop-culture meme. It’s usually asked by the man and directed towards a woman with a pained look on her face. (Cue Daenerys’ iconic Game of Thrones squint-smirk.) That’s because most likely only one of them crossed the finished line.
For that, you can thank the orgasm gap—a disparity that leads to men experiencing climax way more than women. Similar to the pay gap, the orgasm gap stops women from getting what’s theirs, which in this case is a mind-blowing intimate encounter.
The orgasm gap exists for a lot of reasons but the primary reason is sexism. We’ve long-lived in a society that sidelines women’s pleasure and makes it secondary to male satisfaction. Decades after the sexual revolution and the seminal Kinsey Reports, science has ultimate insight into the ins and outs of the male orgasm and how to achieve it, how to improve upon it, while the female orgasm elicits an unconcerned Kanye shrug. The sexual revolution accomplished a lot, but the genders never reached pleasure parity. Everyone deserves pleasure, but not everyone is getting it.
Recent research showed that 85% of men climaxed the last time they had encounters compared to 64% of women. While sex-positivity is on the rise, the fact these stats hold up today in 2020 is staggering.
So what’s the deal? If you’re to believe popular thought, you would think men are just genetically built to experience more pleasure than women. Women are engineered differently, right? So wrong. All bodies are capable of experiencing pleasure. The clitoris has the same biological tissue as the male anatomy and has double the amount of nerve endings. All signs point to female orgasm being attainable and readily available. And yet it isn’t.
From girlhood, we’re punished for being sexually curious or active, while boys are encouraged to explore their sexuality. By the time we reach adulthood, we have men who feel entitled to orgasm and women who are passive participants in intimate encounters. This mentality is so pervasive that a lack of orgasm from a man signals that the encounter is incomplete. You two didn’t “finish.”
To close the orgasm gap in your own life, you must start by knowing and understanding your own body. Once you have that self-knowledge, you’ll be in a better position to demand what you desire from your sexual partners. That means no more faking. No more being grateful for scraps. No more stroking a man’s ego—among other things—without getting anything in return. How does your body get off? What kind of touch do you respond to? What do you shirk away from?
Lubing up and spending quality time with yourself is key to answering these questions. Only 35% of women orgasm from penetration alone anyways. Self-pleasure is self-care and you should seek it out unapologetically.
And while self-pleasure is an important part of that, pleasure encompasses much more than physical exploration. It can look like putting on an aloe face mask, buying some ridiculously ravishing lingerie or soaking into a luxurious Victoria’s Secret Body Mist or Lotion. Whatever it takes to get you there, nothing is out of bounds. Every bit of body confidence you earn will better empower you to effectively communicate your intimate needs.
The orgasm disparity isn’t a physical shortcoming, it’s a cultural one. By all genders acknowledging the gap and working to close it, we can achieve pleasure for all.