The Pleasure Gap

The Pleasure Gap

Most of us know about the wage gap, less commonly discussed is the pleasure or orgasm gap. Recent studies show that heterosexual men generally experience orgasm 95% of the time during sex vs 65% of heterosexual women. The gap is significantly reduced for lesbian women at 86%.

What the F?

There are many reasons why the pleasure gap persists.

Sex is a taboo topic for most American households and young adults often seek out information online and through porn. 80% of sexually active teens aged 15-17 had no formal sex ed before their first sexual encounter. Sex education in schools varies tremendously and focuses heavily on pregnancy and STI prevention rather than about consent, communication skills and pleasure. Only 25 states mandate sex and HIV education with only 17 states requiring medical accuracy.

Standard porn focuses on the male orgasm and places women in the role as the provider and not the recipient of pleasure. There is also a tendency in traditional porn to normalize aggressive and violent treatment of women. 

In addition, prescribed gender norms and behaviors prevent open communication about sex. CIS women are discouraged from masturbating, vocalizing their needs, and advocating for their pleasure. Meanwhile, CIS men are discouraged from being vulnerable, identifying and expressing emotion.

When coupled with the fact that our society prioritizes penetrative sex over foreplay, it’s no wonder that fewer heterosexual women consistently have orgasmic sex compared to men.

How do we close the gap?

  1. Masturbate: You are both deserving and responsible for your own pleasure. Every body is unique, so take the time to play and get to know what works for you. 
  2. Communication: Now you have the knowledge of what works for you, it’s important to share what’s working and what’s not with your partner. The more specific the better.
  3. Mindfulness: Focus on the sensations in the moment rather than the end goal. “When sex becomes goal oriented, we may race to orgasm with such single minded focus that we never even notice all the lovely sensations that come before (and, for the matter, after).

Photo Credit: Tan Danh