The Female Orgasm: It's Not That Difficult

After years of being unsure of how to approach this subject, I have something to say: a woman’s pleasure is just as important as a man’s in a heterosexual relationship. Every time. This is something that seems to be forgotten amidst the media and, in turn, real-life relationships.

I was once told by a boy that cunnilingus was a much more intimate act than blowjobs are. Being the young and sexually inexperienced girl I was, I pretended to understand, agreed, and never brought it up again.

But here I am, five years later, bringing it up again after learning that too many women my age and older have never reached orgasm.

Illustration and feature photo by Kirsten Samanich, @kir_andloathinginlasvegas

Illustration and feature photo by Kirsten Samanich, @kir_andloathinginlasvegas

Women are indirectly taught that sex is over when the man finishes. If a woman senses her partner is about to burst and she hasn’t even come close to orgasm yet, she’ll sometimes fake a climax to protect his oh so delicate ego. Simply put, this is unfair. (Side note: Neither men nor women should be made to feel inadequate for not being able to climax.)

The sociological reasonings behind the orgasm gap are just as important as the physiological ones. Female orgasms are considered to be a big, scary mystery that will maybe hopefully happen, while a male’s orgasm is usually assumed. The causes of this can be drawn back to the huge differences between the way women and men are first exposed to their sexual bodies.

“The first time women interact with their body parts at all is because of our periods. They’re gross and make us feel ashamed,” says Rebecca Plante, Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Ithaca College. “Boys wake up with erections and literally hold the pleasure in their hands.”

According to Plante, girls don’t make the sexual connection between pleasure and their genitalia as quickly as boys usually do. “From the get-go, women are not told about the sexual aspects of their bodies and don’t visibly see them in quite the same way,” she said. “That comes from a long story of misogyny and fear of women’s sexualities.”

The differences between young boys' and girls' upbringings and what they they absorb from the media almost completely shapes the way they view sex.

“Imagine the scenario in which a woman takes a 10-year-old girl to the side and says, ‘I don’t know if you’ve touched yourself, but let’s talk about orgasms! Let’s talk about masturbation!’ It’s a laughable scenario and the thing is, we don’t even need to spin the same scenario for boys. Not all boys, but many boys, figure it out themselves.”

The silence surrounding the female orgasm established during childhood and puberty naturally pervades adult life, but it doesn’t have to. Men should feel encouraged to ask what they can do to ensure the woman’s pleasure—and vice versa. If he fails to ask, she should feel comfortable enough to speak up. The fear of speaking up during sex—from either party—can lead to emotional issues in the relationship, resulting in poor communication.

According to Plante, communication in the bedroom can be tricky, and right now, we're not exactly nailing it.

“Something that would have to radically change going into hookups is the assumption that we should go into those situations as if we’re customers at a McDonald’s drive-thru,” Plante pointed out. “Like, ‘I have a need, you need to fill it. Here, do it for me.’ Go into them thinking instead, ‘We’re cool to do this — let’s just see what happens here.’”