Wednesday 12 December 2018

Niamh Horan: 'The orgasm gap...and why it’s a more pressing issue than the gender pay gap'

Women have used their voices for positive change - the last feminist frontier is the bedroom, writes Niamh Horan

'Sex ought to be wholly satisfying link between two affectionate people, from which they emerge unanxious, rewarded and ready for more' Alex Comfort, author, The Joy of Sex
'Sex ought to be wholly satisfying link between two affectionate people, from which they emerge unanxious, rewarded and ready for more' Alex Comfort, author, The Joy of Sex
Sunday Independent journalist Niamh Horan
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

"Sex ought to be wholly satisfying link between two affectionate people, from which they emerge unanxious, rewarded and ready for more." - Alex Comfort, author, The Joy of Sex

The latest research on the female orgasm has been released, and if more depressing data on sexuality exists, I'd love to see it.

According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 87pc of husbands say they "consistently experience orgasm" during sex - compared with only 49pc of their wives.

What makes the 'orgasm gap' so frustrating is that the couples questioned weren't living under the same roof for 40 years, sick to the teeth of each other's habits and foibles - these were newly- weds.

So then, if over half of these women have difficulty climaxing with the man they have chosen for life, what hope have the millions of awkward young girls and women in the big bad world of Tinder hook-ups and one- night stands?

No wonder so few young people are having sex -they're not enjoying it!

Sunday Independent journalist Niamh Horan
Sunday Independent journalist Niamh Horan

The 'orgasm gap' is a feminist issue, far more important than even the gender pay gap, because it cuts to the very heart of our humanity: intimacy, relationships, communication and primal happiness.

And what makes the gulf between men's and women's pleasure so unnecessary is that physically, women are better built to enjoy sex even more than men.

Sure, anatomical differences play a part - a woman can orgasm only if there is some sort of rhythmic pressure on her clitoris (unfortunately, there is no reference to this in the millions of porn videos consumed by men, and it's also the reason why a good lover will always master the art of oral sex) but once that body part is in some way stimulated, most women have everything going for them to have, not just any orgasm, but an even more explosive finish than their partner.

For a start, women's brainwaves are 10 times stronger than men's during orgasm and, unlike men's tough bodies, even just touching or running your hands over other areas of a woman's body will excite her more sexually than a man. As for the 4,000 nerve endings found in a penis, women have 8,000 - and that's just the clitoris. The average female orgasm also lasts four times longer than a man's, while women possess the only body part (the clitoris) that solely exists for the purpose of pleasure. Unlike men, women can also enjoy multiple orgasms in a very short space of time. (And yet still they claim God is a man!)

So why then, as one guy put it to me, is the female orgasm "like chasing mercury around a saucer with a pair of chopsticks?"

This is where a separate recent study might shed some light.

According to the findings in The Journal of Sex Research, a man's sense of masculinity is enhanced when he is able to make his partner orgasm.

After investigating the responses of 810 heterosexual men aged 18 or older, researchers found that "men state that women's orgasm is one of the most sexually satisfying experiences that men can have", study authors Sara B Chadwick and Sari van Anders, both of the University of Michigan, stated.

Men across the board reported feeling more masculine when they had helped their female partner achieve orgasm. And women innately understand this. So no pressure then, ladies!

It may explain why almost 70pc of women have felt compelled to fake an orgasm, compared with just 27pc of men.

In fact, the longer these women were in their relationships, the more likely they were to pretend. - 20pc of women have faked it during a one-night stand, 29pc have faked climaxing with a new partner, and 31pc have faked it in a long-term relationship.

For all our talk of female advancement, it seems many women are still putting their concerns about men's feelings - and their egos - before their own personal satisfaction.

While writing this piece, I asked a couple of women if they ever had trouble orgasming. They were surprisingly candid.

One woman told me she didn't orgasm until her late 20s, another said 'la petite mort' came only when she was 32. There were similar "I do, but only once in a blue moon" admissions. And this was just a quick straw poll.

But it was one woman blessed with the ability to orgasm more than once in the same session that really made me think we need to address the inequality.

She said: "Sometimes I feel I could orgasm a second time in one morning when he's about to get up to go to work, but I am too shy to ask."

Now, can you ever imagine a world where a man would be afraid to ask for a second whirl if he were in the mood?

So why aren't women talking to their lovers?

A friend who enjoys a satisfying sex life and is in a long-term relationship with her partner, said: "The most damaging myth out there is that it's 'all down to the man's size' or that somehow the ability to satisfy a woman is a reflection on his manhood in general. It means that, if a woman raises the issue, then she's insulting his ego and questioning his prowess.

"And there are lots of men who would feel hurt if you brought it up. When the reality is it has got nothing to do with them. It's all down to intimately getting to know a woman and the uniqueness of her body. And yes, that can happen at any stage. Even after years of going to bed together, skills always need updating, and you can discover how to please someone all over again."

People aren't mind-readers. It is each person's personal responsibility to ensure they do what they can to orgasm and if this generation of women are so gung-ho about empowerment in the outside world, then surely they can extend their voice to the sanctity of their bedroom.

The truth is, if it's approached in the right way, men want to know. In fact, this is probably the only area where men want to be told what to do by a woman, so for the love of God, make the most of it!

Even if you have to talk them through it, even if it takes time (the average woman takes 20 minutes to climax), the right guy will want to know the best way to get you there.

Life is too short. And, if recent reports of a sex recession are to be believed, our time for having sex has got even shorter.

Women have already used their voices to change so much. Let's stop using them to fake it in bed and - in a gentle way - start using them to improve our sex lives. There'll probably be relief all round that you brought it up.

Sunday Independent

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