Dear Sexually Active Young Women,

About a year and a half ago, I wrote you a letter that went viral. This letter provided

HarperCollins
Source: HarperCollins

advice to help make sex pleasurable that, sadly, too few of you had been taught. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written, but it isn’t because I haven‘t had you on my mind. In fact, just the opposite is true: You’ve been on my mind almost constantly, as I’ve been working on a book written to close the orgasm gap and empower you to orgasm. I’ve learned a lot writing this book—and I’ve become even more passionate about helping you become sexually comfortable and confident. I’m writing to share some of that with you now. Let’s start with the orgasm gap—what it is, why we have it, and what we need to do to close it.

albund/depositphotos.com
Source: albund/depositphotos.com

First, men are having way more orgasms than women are. As just two examples, in one very recent survey of over 50,000 women and men, 65 percent of heterosexual women vs. 95 percent of men said they always or usually orgasm during a sexual encounter. This orgasm gap gets even bigger during hookup sex. In anonymous polls taken over several years in my own classes, 55 percent of men versus 4 percent of women say they usually reach orgasm during first-time hookup sex.

Second, there's also a gap among women based on their self-identified sexual orientation. In this same study mentioned earlier, lesbian women had significantly more orgasms than heterosexual women. In fact, an earlier study that found the same thing is the reason I wrote my last letter just to heterosexual women. But, in retrospect, this was a mistake for two reasons. First, in both of these studies, bisexual women were also having significantly fewer orgasms than were lesbian women. And, second and most important: ALL women can use information to enhance their sexual pleasure. In fact, as many as 50 percent of 18 to 35-year-old women say they have trouble reaching orgasm with a partner.

All of this tells me that rather than there being something wrong with women struggling to orgasm, something is wrong with our culture. Here’s what’s wrong—or in other words, here’s why your orgasm problem is a cultural problem:

  1. We’re bombarded with media images of “sexy” women whose role is to attract and please men. Research shows that these images lead girls and women to constantly assess how they appear to others. Many women’s focus becomes on being sexually desirable to others rather than on their own sexual desires. Even worse, among women who have sex with men, some come to believe that a woman’s main role is to please men sexually, rather than to equally give and receive pleasure.

  2. There’s way too much emphasis on penetration—the way men reach orgasm. Most movies (mainstream and porn) show women having amazing orgasms from penetration alone. As I say in my upcoming book, Becoming Cliterate, the false idea that women should orgasm from male thrusting alone is the number 1 reason for the orgasm gap. Instead, as I will tell you about in more detail in future letters, in order to orgasm, the vast majority of women (up to 95 percent) need some kind of clitoral stimulation, either alone or coupled with penetration. Yet, when with men, women often forgo this need and focus on penetration instead. In fact, during sexual encounters that involve intercourse, 78 percent of women's orgasm problems are caused by not enough or not the right kind of clitoral stimulation. Still, like I said earlier, it's not only when women have sex with men that they have orgasm problems, and the rest of the cultural issues below can affect any of you, regardless of who you have sex with.

  3. Media images of sexy, beautiful, thin women lead many of us to dislike our bodies. If you dislike yourself naked, you’re not going to feel open and free during a sexual encounter. It’s impossible to have an orgasm while holding your stomach in.

  4. Women are judged more harshly than men for having casual sex. This sexual double standard leaves many of you feeling conflicted about the sex you’re having. And, sort of obvious, it’s hard to have an orgasm when you’re guilt-ridden or ashamed.

  5. Sex education focuses almost exclusively on the dangers of sex, and it’s difficult to enjoy something that you’ve learned is dangerous, rather than a pleasurable part of life.

  6. Most of us have little to no training in sexual communication. Good communication is especially critical when it comes (pun intended!) to female orgasms, because what every woman needs is different.

Can you relate to anything on this list? If you identify as heterosexual or have sex with men, have you thought you were "supposed to" orgasm during intercourse? Or, regardless of how you identify or who you have sex with, have you ever felt ashamed of your body during sex? Have you ever wanted to tell a partner what you needed to orgasm, but didn’t know how?

Laurie Mintz/makeameme.org
Source: Laurie Mintz/makeameme.org

Well, to close the orgasm gap, we have to attack all of these problems one-by-one. We have to change our culture, so women and men’s most reliable routes to orgasm—clitoral and penile stimulation, respectively—are viewed as equal. We have to give individual women (including you), the attitudes and skills needed to orgasm, including feeling like you deserve pleasure, knowledge of your body, and the skills to tell partners what you need. I can’t do all that in one blog, but I promise I will write again soon.

With Care for You and Your Pleasure,

Laurie Mintz

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