Orgasm Inequality - What is it and why should we care?
Orgasm inequality between men and women has been a point of interest for many feminist and sexuality scholars. Because Shaggbox wants to advocate for healthy, informed, consensual, and pleasurable sex, we want to examine this inequality issue. Orgasm inequality between men and women, also known as the pleasure gap, is the measurable difference in orgasm frequency between male and female sexual partners. The pleasure gap has only been measurable in heterosexual and cisgender contexts, because same-sex partners do not experience orgasm inequality, and unfortunately, there has been little to no research on the presence of the pleasure gap among transgender or nonbinary individuals. Statistics have shown that cisgender men experience orgasm between 85% - 95% of the time during their partnered sexual experiences, while cisgender women, experience orgasm roughly 40% - 65% of the time during their partnered sexual experiences. Therefore, Shaggbox wants to take a deeper look into the ways orgasm absence can impact cisgender women, why this occurs, and how we can address it.
Firstly, it's important to note that scholars have demonstrated that an individual can have a fulfilling and healthy sexual experience without experiencing orgasm, and that discourses related to the necessity of orgasm disproportionately and negatively affects women’s perception of their own sexuality, and their ability to communicate with a sexual partner. Therefore, we want to emphasize that orgasm is not needed to enjoy one’s sexuality and sexual experience, absence of orgasm is normal, and that pressuring partners to have orgasms is not a successful way to bridge the pleasure gap. However, we also want to highlight the positive effects that orgasm has on mental and physical health, and the ways cisgender women can empower themselves through communication, education, and pleasure.
Here's a few familiar pop-culture examples that exemplify the issue of orgasm inequality and the perceived sexual passivity of women :
What do we do about it?
Scholars have provided evidence that the lack of comprehensive sexual education, as well as the emphasis on vaginal penetrative sex during heterosexual encounters, contribute to orgasm inequality. We suggest that the pop-culture narratives which minimize female agency in the sexual sphere and normalize the pleasure gap, contribute to orgasm inequality as well. Unfortunately, many of these issues are systemic and beyond one individual’s direct control. However, many of these systemic issues can be mitigated by the choices we make ourselves, we can look at our own actions and reactions and determine if they might be contributing to a system which deprives women of sexual expression. Through self-education, communication between sexual partners, and emphasizing clitoral stimulation in sexual contexts (which we believe can all be assisted by the personal rejection of cultural narratives that diminish women’s sexual agency), orgasm inequality and the pleasure gap can be greatly reduced.
Sex-education in the United States is severally lacking. Unfortunately, this is one of the key elements that researchers have cited as a reason for orgasm inequality between men and women. Because most sex-education in the U.S. focuses on contraception and sexually transmitted infections, understanding pleasure as a function of sex is usually something people must figure out themselves. Us at Shaggbox believe that when people empower themselves with knowledge, and inform themselves about their own and their partner’s bodies, people with vulvas can experience just as much pleasure as those without. Because of this reason, we believe that sex-education content is one of the most beneficial things Shaggbox can provide.
Aside from checking out our YouTube channel, which is full of fun and informative content, here is a list of additional informative and pleasure-focused YouTube channels:
Lack of communication or comfort in expressing sexual desires is another element of the pleasure gap that researchers have found to be extremely significant. Interestingly, many hesitancies to communicate with a sexual partner were due to internalized beliefs in women’s lack of sexual agency and the breaking of cultural narratives and gender scripts that would have to occur in order for open communication to take place. However, communication is not one sided. Communication requires the attention and the willingness to adapt by both parties. This also means that the heterosexual partners of cisgender women need to be willing to deconstruct these cultural narratives in their own life as well, and foster an environment of open, honest, and healthy communication in the sexual sphere. Shaggbox suggests opening up communication between partners by reading erotica aloud together. The descriptive language used, as well as the scenes depicted, can stimulate creativity (among other things) and create an environment in which both partners are comfortable discussing their sexual needs openly and honestly.
The last element that was clearly identified by scholars as a cause for orgasm absence among cisgender women was the focus on penile-vaginal intercourse during heterosexual encounters. More specifically, the lack of focus on clitoral stimulation and foreplay. Of course, a lack of comprehensive sexual-education contributes to this, as well as a lack of open and honest communication between partners. Again we wish to highlight the ways cultural narratives about heterosexual sex, and female sexual agency, can contribute to these factors. By rejecting archaic tropes, and reconstructing narratives about gender and sexuality within our own lives, we can finally begin to bridge the pleasure gap.
But unfortunately, the knowledge, communication, and self-empowerment that we can gain is sometimes not enough if we don’t have the tools to put it in practice. Clitoral stimulation and foreplay are a key elements to female orgasm. This is why Shaggbox wants to support orgasm equality through our Build Your Own Bundles deal! Use this deal to get a premium toy at a discount when you buy at least two add-ons - 15% off the entire bundle. Shaggbox has several toys specifically focused on clitoral stimulation like the Tango by We-Vibe, the Liberty by Womanizer, and the SEI by Evolved. We also like to suggest the We-Vibe Sync, a couples vibrator that stimulates the tip and the legs of the clitoris during penetrative sex. Of course foreplay is important as well, which is why we suggest adding a few extras to your bundles! Massage candles for temperature play, nipple clamps, and clit stimulation serum, are all wonderful ways to focus more on your own, or your female partner’s, pleasure during sex.
To learn more about Orgasm Inequality and how to address it - check out the YouTube video we made on the subject!