The Problem: Two Partners One Orgasm
Sexual satisfaction can significantly increase relationship satisfaction.
Yet, a 2015 online survey of more than 1000 women using the “HealthyWomen / Lippe Taylor Women’s Health Behavior Index” confirmed ongoing concerns about the female sexual experience.
According to survey results, 60% of women want more sex in spite of the fact that only 27% of women orgasm with every intercourse engagement. The rate increases to 34% with oral sex. Overall, women orgasm rate is 69%, compared to 95% for men.
Sadly, the lack of sexual satisfaction is a cultural norm embedded within a system that emphasizes a particular power structure that only entitles men to orgasm. Female orgasm is optional in spite of the fact that the female body is particularly designed for orgasm, as the clitoris has no other function.
Women have fought robustly to remove power structures that restrict success. Yet, research reveals that women compromise their body autonomy to fulfill the sexual “needs” of their partners, including agreeing to ‘threesomes,’ watching pornography at the partner’s request, and performing as bisexual at parties. Women also rationalize coercive sexual experiences. However, normalizing sex without orgasm is the most common compromise of body autonomy.
The single orgasm sexual experience, where only the male orgasms, is no less oppressive than separate educational systems for races or the denial of marriage based on gender. There are significant physical and emotional benefits to orgasm. Both oxytocin and endorphins are released during orgasm. No wonder men are more confident and experience less depression than women. No wonder married men live longer than unmarried men.
Assuming that women and men are ready to shift the narrative of the single-orgasm sexual experience, language around body autonomy is important during intimacy. The old assumption that things just go according to what the male partner desires has to be replaced with partner communication.
The Solution: Talk that Talk
The language of sex can feel as awkward as learning to speak any foreign language. However, what may feel most awkward is the shift in power dynamics. The language only works with a mental shift in the relationship around power and passion. The shift has to start with an acceptance that women are equally entitled to orgasm. Men have an equal responsibility to engage in sex with the intent to deliver pleasure, not just receive it.
The mental shift does not come with effective communication or directives. So here are five requests that can increase sexual satisfaction for partners who are ready to engage one another beyond traditionally oppressive scripts.
“We have to use protection.” Partners have a right to protect themselves from unwanted consequences, particularly pregnancy and disease. Research says that women who are less educated, economically disadvantaged, or underage are more likely to experience sex without protection, and more likely to suffer negative consequences. However, the Center of Disease Control 2017 report on sexually transmitted diseases shows a sharp increase in STDs in the overall population since 2013.
Sex should not be an expression of power that puts individuals at risk. Sex is a partnering experience, and partners communicate. Communicating about risks is a good place to start. Moreover, taking an unwanted risk out of the situation may allow for a more relaxed experienced. A more relaxed experience increases the likelihood of female orgasm.
“I need more touching” is important to convey to a partner and important for a partner to respect. If a partner does not respect this request, then consent is not happening. Compliance, maybe, but not consent.
There is a difference between consent and compliance.
Compliance is about avoiding consequences, part of the traditional paradigm that compromises female body autonomy. Consent is about engaging in pleasure. Women should not be expected to be donors of pleasure. They should be participants in sexual pleasure.
Although foreplay estimates range from 13 – 22 minutes, there is no limit to how much touching a woman should have before she is ready for genital contact or penetration. Women love longer foreplay far more than men but are reluctant to ask for it. However, men who want to partner, not dominate, are willing to acquiesce to a woman’s desire.
If a partner ignores a request for more touching, then sexual pleasure is likely not the only problem in the relationship. You may have to fix the power dynamics in other areas of your relationship as you work on improving your sexual experience.
“Help me orgasm first.” Since intercourse ends with male orgasm, it simply makes sense that female orgasm occurs before penetration. “Female first,” may be the biggest, most essential shift in the sexual experience. The requirement for females to orgasm before penetration immediately levels the sexual experience.
If men withheld penetration until after the woman orgasmed through other stimulation, the ratio of male-to-female orgasm encounters would be equal. What a simple solution! But, women have been conditioned to be used as objects of sexual pleasure rather than subjects of sexual pleasure. So, a serious mental shift in both men and women have to take place for these words to be used.
Traditional sex scripts place the penis at the center of the sexual experience. So, men are less inclined to use their hands and mouths to produce female orgasm, much less prioritize female orgasm. Consequently, in spite of women being physiologically capable of experiencing multiple orgasms, many experience none.
Research shows that men invest in their partner’s orgasm according to the commitment of the relationship. In single-sex encounters, women are least likely to orgasm as compared to married women. It’s as if women have to earn the right to sexual pleasure to which men are entitled. However, women get to control their own fate with negotiation of the centrality of the sexual experience.
Female orgasm before penetration is a reasonable request. The clitoris is not a glitch. It has twice the nerve endings than the head of the penis and contributes significantly to the outcome of the sexual experience. In addition to the clitoris, nipples and the G-spot can also be stimulated without penis involvement.
“Don’t come yet” may be intimidating words associated with sex for men, second only to “I love you.” However, the request also means the woman is enjoying the experience. The degree to which males can delay their orgasm varies, but practice makes perfect.
Men who have never been asked to delay an orgasm may not be capable of it. Men who are fully invested and practiced in gratifying their partner may be quite good at it. The expectation of allowing a woman to determine the sexual experience of the male is a reversal of the traditional paradigm.
Requesting a man to delay orgasm along with the preliminary female orgasm before penetration may sound like double dipping. It is double dipping, and there is nothing wrong with it. Any man who complains about his partner having multiple orgasms should do a check on his patriarchy assumptions and social expectations. Female orgasm is a way to engage her in the sexual experience as a subject, rather than an object. It is not a cue for the male to ‘take his turn.’
Many women accept synchronized orgasm with her partner as the ultimate sexual experience in lieu of requesting her partner to delay his orgasm in order for her sexual pleasure to continue. This is a reasonable practice when the male orgasm is the centrality of the sexual experience and female orgasm is seen as optional. Females feel privileged instead of entitled to orgasm when they get to ride the coat tail of the male ejaculation. But, at the deepest level of partnering, both partners negotiate when sex begins and when it ends.
“I want to switch positions” is important to the practice of body autonomy and should be a welcomed request. A woman’s body changes throughout the monthly cycle. So, even if she achieved an orgasm in a particular position a week ago, the same position may not feel as stimulating. Finding the right degree of stimulation based on positioning may be trial and error and may result in multiple interruptions during intimacy. However, it increases the chance of female orgasm.
Switching positions may also bring greater comfort to females based on body image. Bodies appear differently in prone positions than kneeling over a partner. Women who are concerned with body image may prefer particular positions.
Women who are embarrassed to advocate for more desirable positioning during intimacy may be complying with sex instead of consenting. Men who do not honor a request to switch positions may be forcing compliance instead of adhering to rules of consent.
Conclusion: Practice Makes Perfect
The sexual experience is a partnership. Sex is not something that one person gives to another or takes from anyone. It should not require females to be orgasm martyrs. Female orgasm should not be considered any more optional than male orgasm.
Communication must penetrate the sexual experience to break free of the traditional paradigm that places females as objects with compromised body autonomy. The language of sexual communication may be as awkward as creating new sounds with your tongue to speak a foreign language. Yet, practice is the only way we learn. The more we immerse ourselves in the language, the more comfortable it becomes.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (2017). Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/std/stats17/infographic.htm
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Frederick, D.A., John, H.K.S., Garcia, J.R. et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior (2018) 47: 273. https://doi-org.libproxy.uccs.edu/10.1007/s10508-017-0939-z
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