Is feminism wanting women to come first? Literally?ANNA PALMA BALINT

When compared to the male orgasm, the fact that women come is a really well-kept secret. It is made invisible. Where jokes about boys masturbating are ten a penny on shows like The Inbetweeners, we don’t see similar, frank, or even funny representations of female sexuality anywhere near as often.

It seems as though there’s a bit of a vicious circle here. We think of women orgasming as obscene, so we suppress it, so it seems like it should be secret, and on it goes. As a result, the female orgasm is hidden – not only in popular culture but also in the everyday lives of women and their partners.

The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that in a casual sex scenario, women orgasmed around half the number of times that men did. Significantly, they orgasm a lot more with other women, with around 75% reporting orgasm compared to 40% in sex with men. I think this is the result of lack of communication in sex, especially in the case of women who don’t come as much as they’d like.

“Women’s orgasms are unrealistically portrayed as something that can be attained through penetrative, violent sex”

Our culture of sex is built on male pleasure. The porn industry capitalises on what the male gaze wants to see. For instance, women’s orgasms in porn are often for the men who make up the majority of viewers. Women’s orgasms are unrealistically portrayed as something that can be attained through penetrative, violent sex.

Some women might be able to come this way, and porn can be a good way to see kinks normalised and accepted when they can sometimes feel wrong or perverse. However, it fails to represent women’s sexuality as an active thing to be treated independently rather than as a mere receptacle for male desire.

Anna Palma Balint

Even porn that ostensibly shows women enjoying sex in a women-controlled environment, such as ‘lesbian’ porn, creates a passive female sexuality, one that is for men to watch. When women are shown to orgasm in porn like that, it is just as unrealistic as when they perform heteronormative scenes.

Hugh Hefner is said to have made his ‘playmates’ act out lesbian porn scenes while he had sex. Clearly, this was not in aid of their sexual desire or fulfilment – it was in aid of his.

So, porn creates the image that women can and do come wildly through what one of my friends delicately refers to as ‘basic ploughing’. We perhaps see this as the ‘easy’ way to have sex because we are so centred on male pleasure – getting women off is just too difficult, too much of a faff, takes up too much time and energy.

“Making women come a lot of the time is just about asking what they want”

But it isn’t, and it doesn’t. Making women come a lot of the time is just about asking what they want. I think of it like a game of Bop It – if you twist it without being told, or even without asking, the results aren’t going to be great.

And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. That’s fine. Men can have problems orgasming too, so this runs both ways – orgasm does not have to be the end goal of every sexual encounter.

I think when orgasm stops being the end goal, and especially for women having sex with men, its attainment will stop being a subject of such intense pressure. Sex becomes simpler. Reaching orgasm becomes easier when people are chill. This is why heteronormative or male-orientated porn can be so problematic, as it creates a sense of expectation around orgasm that isn’t realistic or helpful.

That isn’t to say we should stop caring about women orgasming less than men. I am a strong believer in the Nicki Minaj mantra of demanding orgasm, because if men are going to come all the time and their female partners significantly less so, that isn’t right.


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That being said, I can count on one hand (well, one finger) the number of times I’ve orgasmed with a partner. I would have to use all my fingers and toes, and probably a few other people’s fingers and toes, to tot up how many times the (male) people I’ve been sleeping with came. That doesn’t mean I’ve been having purely bad sex, but it does mean I’ve been subscribing to the narrative that it’s too much work to make women orgasm, where it’s a given for men to finish.

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Women come less than men in heterosexual sex; it is a sad but true fact. What is especially tragic about this is that things don’t have to be this way. Men of the world, I urge you: watch or read some feminist porn, go on OMGYes.com, ask your girlfriend or wife or new friend from Cindies what they want to happen. Let’s close the orgasm gap together

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