The Myth of the Orgasm Gap

Illustration of a woman on a unicycle crossing the gap between two cliffs on a high wire


You may have heard of the Orgasm Gap. A tidy label to encapsulate the fact that hetero-cis-women* have less partnered orgasms. Unfortunately it is also used to perpetuate the myths;

  • That women don’t orgasm as easily, 
  • That we are less sexual, 
  • That our sexual responses are complicated or 
  • That it takes twenty minutes for us to orgasm.**

This is bullshit! 

What is true is that hetero-cis-women do have less partnered orgasms than their male partners. And less than lesbians and those having non-partnered sexual experiences, ie. masturbating. 

In fact, the stats are staggering with some studies stating that at their last sexual encounter 95% of men and only 69% of women had an orgasm (Richters, 2006). 

So that proves it, right? Hetero-cis-women are harder work when it comes to coming? Not in the slightest.

What we are dealing with is an ingrained cultural bias towards penis in vagina sex that was exacerbated by Freud’s ramblings about clitoral orgasms being immature.

As soon as researchers move away from sexual intercourse as being the be-all and end-all of sex, we suddenly find that women are much more orgasmic than was previously reported. Quite a bit more (Mahar 2020). 

When it comes to partnered sex, one of the most important messages I think that can be gleaned from the brilliant books Come As you Are (Nagoski) and Becoming Cliterate (Mintz) is that communication is key. No one can read your mind, you need to state loudly and proudly what it is you want, need and desire in order to feel pleasure. 

Sounds simple but it is not always that easy to tell someone else that what they are doing isn’t doing it for you and to then explain what will.

It is even harder if you don’t actually know.

Which brings us to how society as a whole has let down women and their clits. We live in a society that looks down on women for enjoying sex. That slut-shaming still happens in 2020 is ridiculous. How are you meant to feel sexy when you feel worried about backlash not just from your friends but sometimes from the very guy that is sticking his dick in you? A society that not only has insufficient Sexual Education but any Sexual Education we do have is focussed on STI’s and contraception, not on pleasure. A society that focuses on impossible physical standards as the norm (including surgically altered labia). Where men’s pleasure is paramount. Where despite how far we have come on LGBTQI issues, penis in vagina (PIV) sex is still seen as the standard. A society that believes that women’s orgasms are just too hard to achieve and not really that important. These are all generalisations, but they are unfortunately general enough to be impacting the number of orgasms being had by one part of our society. 

I know I'm not going to be blowing anyone’s mind with the idea that porn is unrealistic, but a quick reminder that most women do not come from being vigorously hammered away at by big dicks.

Same goes for mainstream movies, being banged standing up against a wall in a bathroom is not always as hot as they make out.

  • 95% of women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm.
  • Every woman is different, different techniques, positions, toys, tongues, fingers, pillows, water jets may get them there. 
  • It can be different for the same woman on different days.

Stress, worrying about your body, not trusting your sexual partner, being “in your head”, feeling unwell, being on certain drugs (prescribed or otherwise), and trauma** can all contribute to an inability to orgasm.

The obvious catch 22 of orgasms is that if you are worrying that you are taking too long to come, you will take too long to come. Stop worrying. Read Mintz’s book. It has some great ways to look after your clit and your mind in regards to orgasming. Or watch tutorials on how to orgasm by OMGYes by Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross. 

If you are not having as many orgasms as you would like, you might want to take the time you deserve to learn more about how your anatomy and your brain work. Hopefully you will find great advice about how you can experiment with new and different ways to get yourself off. And then you can tell other people who would like to make you come what you have discovered. If you like, you can share some of the experimentation with them. 

As for the hetero-cis-men, if you are already one of the enlightened ones who know that a woman needs her clit stimulated to come and that penis in vaginal sex is not going to do it for more than 5% of women then, congratulations. Great work. Now perhaps you might want to take a step back and stop treating a woman’s orgasm as a goal that you need to achieve. This is not a competitive sport. 

In fact a lot of us might benefit by taking a look at how we are approaching our sex lives and reassessing. If we can try and be more in the moment of pleasure and stop seeing orgasms as the sole objective, we might actually achieve more orgasms. If not, we will have enjoyed the journey. 

Now for those engaging in casual sex, the stats on orgasms are even worse only 55% of men and get this 4% of women came during their latest hook up. No wonder women feel shit after casual sex, they didn’t have any fun. It would be like getting all the calories from a box of chocolates without getting to eat them. Fuck that. Let’s stop seeing foreplay as just an entree and let’s treat it like it is the main course and the desert. Then actual penis in vagina sex can be the cheese platter afterwards. I do love a good cheese platter.

Let’s all work together to shut down the myths that woman are naturally less sexual and less orgasmic.

*I speak from a hetero cis perspective, I apologise that this is not more inclusive. If you have more to add from other perspectives, please do. And according to the research, if you are bi or a lesbian, good work on the higher levels of communication, understanding and the number of actual orgasms.

**Anorgasmia (being unable to orgasm) can affect up to 41% of women. For those of you that are anorgasmic because you have experienced trauma, there is another book recommended by Laurie Mintz; ‘The Sexual Healing Journey’ by Wendy Malz. You may want to explore finding a good sexual therapist if your therapist is not experienced in that area.
 

9 comments

  • Naughtydouble2

    Naughtydouble2

    More than a month ago

    Experience has taught us the before any body contact seduction of the mind is first and foremost and very successful for all parties

    Reply
  • BSWebscam

    BSWebscam

    More than a month ago

    100% Spot on Emma ;-)

    Reply
  • Addie41

    Addie41

    More than a month ago

    What is a hetero-cis-woman? What is orgasm Gap? The article doesn’t actually explain what they are!

    • AMM.Editor

      AMM.Editor

      More than a month ago

      Hetero means being sexually attracted to the opposite sex.
      Cisgender means you identify with the gender which matches the genitals you were born with.
      You can find more information about gender and sexuality terms in our blog article

      So Emma has stressed that she's talking about straight, born as a woman, women, ie. hetero-cis

      The orgasm gap is the term coined for the gap which some research has identified between the number of orgasms women have vs the number of orgasms men have, as in the stats quoted 95% vs 69%

    • Call.me.x23

      Account Closed

      More than a month ago

      Why not just say women then?

    • AMM.Editor

      AMM.Editor

      More than a month ago

      Because the article isn't about all women, just hetero cis women. It doesn't necessarily apply to trans women or intersex women and it doesn't apply to non-hetero women.

    Reply
  • Surrendertome

    Surrendertome

    More than a month ago

    Thanks, Emma - personally, I aim for a ratio of 5-6 orgasms for my woman first, to every 1 of mine. A woman should never be pressured to have an orgasm - this is setting her up for failure - my partners are only allowed to cum when I give them permission - they beg me for that sweet release - once I give them permission, I then extend and intensify the orgasm until they are a quivering hot mess. When a strong man leads in the bedroom with dirty talk, the woman is more likely to follow and surrender - women do not want to be labelled sluts; yet they want to be slutty and please their strong man in the bedroom - all men have to do, is give them permission! It is this dichotomy of business woman/wife/mother as opposed to good little cumslut that women find so exciting and intoxicating, when they are with a strong man. In short, when a man is a man, then a woman can be a woman.

    Reply
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