You’ve heard of the gender pay gap, right? On average men in the UK earn more than women. That’s a pretty widely-reported fact. To illustrate this fact, consider that men are paid for 12 months of the year and that women stop earning on 9 November, meaning that comparatively, the median wage for women is lower. But we’re not talking about the wage gap, today we’re talking about another gendered disparity: the orgasm gap.
Here in the UK, our sex ed classes have long consisted of a reductionist set of hetero-focused instructions that fail to acknowledge the importance and the nuances of female pleasure. Basically this means that the majority of heterosexual women have grown up going into sex not expecting to enjoy themselves, and not expecting an orgasm. Many view sex as something that is done to them and not for them. Interestingly, but not at all surprisingly, non-hetero identifying women report achieving orgasm with a partner 86% of the time, whereas heterosexual-identifying women report achieving the big O a cool 39% of the time with a partner. Some context – 96% of heterosexual men report cumming when coupled.
What do these stats teach us? They teach us that male orgasms are prioritised over female orgasms and that straight-identifying women are not enjoying sex as much as they could be. They also suggest that this is a gendered issue and we’re calling this issue the orgasm gap. Side note: I just broke my record for writing the word ‘orgasm’ in a single paragraph.
Now, don’t get it twisted, this isn’t necessarily about skill. Plenty of men are miraculous and really know what they’re doing. Women also don’t know what they’re doing a lot of the time and often, are made to feel that communicating more clearly about what we want and how we want it is too embarrassing, too pushy, too tiring, or too tricky a subject to broach with a male partner. This is largely due to paltry sex ed and frank discussions about sex and pleasure remaining somewhat of a taboo in British culture. We’re ashamed to ask for what we want and that’s largely part of the problem here.
So yes, I contend that the orgasm gap isn’t entirely straight men’s fault. Straight women aren’t having enough orgasms because sexual equality and mutual satisfaction is a game of two halves and both halves have an equal responsibility to give, take and communicate.
Women in the UK are becoming more sexually empowered and we’re seeing a clear shift away from slut shaming and bizarre virgin worship into a more sex positive culture in which men and women have an equal right to pleasure. With companies like Smile Makers popping up, normalising pleasure and communication for women everywhere, we’re heading in the right direction, however, the orgasm gap is still an issue that affects women’s sexual wellness and their enjoyment of sex.
You might have noticed that the gap is something that’s now being addressed across social media – this may be because platforms are facilitating more peer-to-peer conversations or because women are beginning to feel more confident discussing sex in the public arena. Or it could be because beauty and fashion brands are cashing in on female pleasure, capitalising on girl power and the sense of agency and validation that the sex positivity movement is currently championing.
Whatever the reason for the orgasm gap becoming a named phenomenon that’s currently being discussed, it’s an essential talking point and not just for straight-identifying men and women. An equal right to pleasure and the ability to talk about pleasure and satisfaction on equal terms without fear of shame or stigma, that’s the goal we should be working towards. After all, we know that women fake orgasms, we know we’re not taught to seek pleasure and we know that male enjoyment has been prioritised throughout history, we’ve just given this BS a name.
What do you think? Have you spent too long prioritising someone else’s pleasure? Do you now feel more comfortable going after what you want? Have you discussed the gap with your partner? Let me know in the comments below.