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Why women fall short when it comes to orgasm

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Research has consistently found that men report having more orgasms than women, often referred to as the orgasm gap. The popular belief is that women take longer to reach orgasm and that it takes more effort to achieve it than men – but that belief is being challenged by new research conducted by a team at McMaster University in Canada.

To sing a large, nationally representative sample, the researchers interviewed a subgroup of 40 men and women. They corroborated previous research and found that 86 percent of men reported having an orgasm during their most recent sexual experience, compared to just 62 percent of women. Like many straight men and women, this subsample acknowledged that they knew that oral sex is an effective way for some women to achieve sexual pleasure that leads to orgasm. Despite this knowledge, the gender gap remained.

The researchers delved deeper into the reasons for this gap when they surveyed their participants. One explanation is highlighted in the persistent belief that men and women have different reasons for having sex. This includes the view that men need some form of physical release, unlike women who need an emotional connection with their partner to demonstrate exclusivity.

This is part of a broader theory of gender essentialism, which suggests that there are biological and physical differences between men and women. This was used to support, for example, the idea that women should be housewives and men should be breadwinners.

Understanding this broader perception of gender and expectations helps to understand the differences in sexual pleasure. The study participants defined regular sex as penile-vaginal intercourse, which apparently directs the sexual pleasure and stimulation of the penis and not the clitoris.

Again, male orgasm is prioritized and facilitated at the expense of female orgasm, although participants know the most effective ways to ensure female stimulation and orgasm. Many of the participants shared their view that this requires additional ‘work’ and is both challenging and time-consuming. Providing some reasons for the schism between knowledge and sexual practice.

This is reinforced by the way female participants described their views on alternatives to vaginal intercourse, such as oral sex. They used descriptions like “bad,” “dirty,” or “unnatural” when describing oral sex. This has undoubtedly been shaped by stereotypes and social exchanges that build on an already distorted belief that women and men have different sexual needs and, worse, that women’s sexual pleasure is less important than men’s.

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This sexual double standard is propagated through long-standing judgments about women’s needs, which in turn create negative feelings about the ways in which they might achieve sexual gratification. Women are routinely judged more severely than men when it comes to sexual fulfillment and the methods by which it is achieved. The message is that women should control and self-regulate their sexual desires and behaviors, while men are not subject to the same restrictions.

Significant achievements have been made in recent years to reduce broader gender inequality in the workplace and in society. But sexual pleasure has missed out on this advancement, as the orgasm gap adequately demonstrates.

We are a bit shy when it comes to discussing sex and this limits changes in sexual inequality. There is hope, as the successful menopause campaign has shown, what was previously a forbidden and shameful topic has been reframed and discussed more broadly by improving uptake of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat the symptoms and ailments that lead to many women unnecessarily have endured.

Certainly we can be more ambitious than just looking at women’s health, and important as it is, there’s a lot more to life than treating menopause.

Sexual pleasure is a right and should be a part of every woman’s life, as it is for the majority of men.

Bringing this issue out of the darkness can only succeed if we overcome our collective shyness when talking about sex. I think we can afford a little embarrassment to ensure that women – like men – can enjoy partnered orgasms on a regular basis rather than as extraordinary events.

This aspect of equality is no less important than any other. We just need to mature a little if we are to address sexual injustice and correct the years of unfulfilling sex women have endured.

Ian Hamilton is a Lecturer in Addiction and Mental Health at the University of York

https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/why-women-are-being-short-changed-when-it-comes-to-orgasms-41609376.html Why women fall short when it comes to orgasm

Fry Electronics Team

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