Today is National Orgasm Day, and a great time to remind everyone that women’s sexual pleasure is important and legitimate, but happens far less frequently than it should for straight women.
Earlier this year, another study has confirmed what many women have known for some time: Straight women have fewer orgasms than lesbian or bisexual women, proving yet again that we need to stop glorifying penetrative sex and considering penises to be some sort of magical sex wand for women.
So, not only does an orgasm gap exist between men and women, but there’s an additional gap between heterosexual women and those with higher Kinsey scale scores (in case you need a refresher: a zero on the Kinsey scale means “exclusively heterosexual” while a six means “exclusively homosexual”).
In the study of 52,600 people in the United States, heterosexual men were the most likely to orgasm, coming 95 percent of the time during sexual encounters, followed by gay men (89 percent) and bisexual men (88 percent). Lesbians fared the best among women, orgasming 86 percent of the time.
Then comes the big gap: Bisexual and heterosexual women came 66 and 65 percent of the time, respectively (read: any time men are involved).
The study included penetrative and oral sex as well as manual stimulation.
In a shock to no woman, the research found that few heterosexual women climaxed through penetrative sex alone. In fact, there was a noticeable pattern between people who had more oral sex having more orgasms in every demographic except straight men.
Women who did orgasm with penetrative sex typically had a sexual encounter that also involved deep kissing, manual genital stimulation and/or oral sex. The authors of the study refer to this as the “Golden Trio,” making it sound like a mythical power-force in a young adult fantasy book series rather than something most couples could engage in.
So how can we fix it?
First of all, we need to stop treating penis-in-vagina penetrative sex as the be-all and end-all and prioritizing the sexual pleasure of heterosexual men. We need an overall shift to thinking of sex as something that should be mutually pleasurable and consensual for all parties involved. And we definitely need to stop dismissing women’s bodies as “tricky” or not designed to orgasm — in fact, the clitoris is the only part of any body (male or female) that exists exclusively for pleasure.
Yes, our sex ed leaves a lot to be desired and in many cases doesn’t even acknowledge sexual pleasure as a desirable goal of sex (more on that another day), but nothing’s stopping you from learning about your partner’s body or your own. A recent (or really any) edition of the women’s health bible Our Bodies, Our Selves is a good start, as are sites like Scarleteen and content from sex educators like Aida Manduley, Ignacio Rivera, Laci Green and Ericka Hart.