The Orgasm Gap is a huge issue in modern dating, sex, and relationships. The term refers to the enormous inequity in orgasms between men and women. A study conducted by Durex in 2017 amongst Dutch and Belgian women between the ages of 18-65 found that 3/4 of straight women did not orgasm during sex with their partner. The figures for men were significantly lower, with 28% saying they had trouble reaching climax during sex. Of course, there are so many reasons for this, and no single factor can explain why the gap is so significant. However, for the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on one glaring issue that seems to be ever-present in every single piece of straight television and film produced in our favourite rom coms: the focus on vaginal penetration as the sole and ultimate way a woman orgasm - aka: no foreplay ever.
This acutely came to my attention during my recent 10-day isolation having contracted
Coronavirus (a truly horrific experience, although I did catch it returning from holiday in Magaluf - iconic from me). In the last few days of my ordeal when I had enough energy to concentrate on Netflix, I dipped into the rom coms of my childhood and early teens for some comfort watching. The sex scenes were shocking.
Here is an actual quote from The Holiday:
Jude Law: “How do you feel about foreplay?”
Cameron Diaz: “I think it’s overrated. Significantly overrated.”
Jude Law: “You are quickly becoming one of the most interesting girls I've ever met.”
*Cue what would certainly be the least interesting sex ever*.
The reality is, only 20% of women can reach orgasm through vaginal penetration (and for those ladies you go queens). However, Durex’s study found that one in three men think that vaginal penetration alone brings women to orgasm. Reality: it’s all about the Holy Clitoris. The vast majority of women - 80% - orgasm from external stimulation of the clitoris. In fact, even orgasm from penetration comes from the clit - US sexologists working in the 1960s William Masters and Virginia Johnson where the first to discover that any pleasure women experienced was due to the connection between the clitoris and vagina - vaginal penetration stimulates the internal structures of the clit that encircle the vaginal canal (sorry for the biology lesson but it’s clearly needed). Furthermore, a Forbes study found that 39% of women are able to orgasm every time when they masturbate, compared to only 6% during sex. So even though the problem is worse
when with a sexual partner, it still exists when women are alone. Maybe this is due to the
messages shoved down our throats that life-changing orgasms only come from a sexy Jude Law who just hops straight to it with no warm up round, maybe it’s down to education, the way that society frames the concept of straight sex as penetration, maybe it’s down to confidence and a lack of autonomy over the female body.
Whatever is causing the Orgasm Gap, it’s fucked up and perpetuated through media, porn, and a major lack of education. I don’t know what the solution is - but I suppose we can only hope the next generation of men start to worship the Holy Clitoris, and the next generation of women feel more empowered to discover what it is that gets them going, and to communicate that to a partner.
PS The Holiday is still a cracking film.