We Can't Only Blame Men for the Orgasm Gap

Written by Bridget Phetasy for Playboy.com

Illustration by Katie Bailie

In all these years, we've yet to figure out how we can help women orgasm as often as men. A national study from 2010 found 85 percent of men had climaxed the last time they had sex compared to just 64 percent of women. The 21 percent discrepancy represents the–still sizeable–orgasm gap.

Most articles, pundits and YouTube sexperts blame men for this gap, labeling the entire gender lazy and selfish in the bedroom. Women, however, are postured as helpless victims of the patriarchy. This position drives me crazy, and such rhetoric is anything but productive. No matter what men do or don't do, they seem to land on the losing side every time. They are supposed to care about a woman's orgasms, but are told not care too much. They're supposed to want to please a woman, but not get any pleasure from it. The "rules" read one contradiction after the next.

When I’m having an orgasm, I care about me, myself and I. And when I’m making a man climax, I feel like a powerful goddess. For me, my partner’s pleasure is as arousing as his desire to please me. Great sex is give and take. It’s a dance of power and submission, giving and receiving, masculinity and femininity, power and vulnerability. I have never faked an orgasm in my life. I’ve never felt pressured to orgasm because I would never degrade the sanctity of coming for the sake of massaging a man’s ego. That being said, many women do fake orgasms. Three in 10 have faked an orgasm in a long-term relationship. When I’ve asked girlfriends why they do it, they simply say they don't want him to feel bad.

Sometimes a man won't climax. Sometimes a woman won't. It's ok.

When women feel pressured to fake orgasms to appease a male partner, that’s on them. If a woman coddles a man's insecurities by faking it, she isn't doing him any favors. How is a man supposed to learn to please a woman if he isn't being taught? By faking, women aren’t doing themselves any favors, either. Because now the dude thinks he’s amazing when he’s average at best.

There are so many factors that play into orgasms, it’s impossible to extrapolate where one aspect ends and another begins. There are psychological factors involved, like one's past sexual experience. There are chemical issues where medication can impact libido. There are physiological factors, like sexual compatibility and issues with body image. For some women, it's physical, a woman may have a smaller clitoris, making external stimulation more challenging. There's relationship status, length and age as well. Any couple in a successful long-term relationship knows the ups and downs that occur with their sex life.

Women are not powerless over the orgasm gap. It is a woman's job to first become intimate with our own bodies. Then, and only then, are we able to teach others how to please us. Communication is necessary, though it can be uncomfortable. Talking about what works and what doesn’t is the doorway to mind-blowing sexual experiences and deeper intimacy. Trust me. If a man doesn’t care about my pleasure, my dissatisfaction is evident in that he’s not welcome in my bed. Ever. Well, ever again.

In my experience, when a man asks “Are you gonna cum, baby?” he isn’t pressuring me, he’s genuinely wondering if I’m close because he’s doing his best not to climax because he’s close, too. He’s worried he’s not going to be able to resist ejaculating before I can get off. The orgasm comes more easily to men because it’s a biological necessity to facilitate procreation. For women, orgasms are for pleasure and bonding. We don’t need to orgasm to keep the human species quota filled. Men do.

If you’re prone to premature ejaculation, take care of her orally or with a toy. I’m very understanding if I don’t orgasm with a man through intercourse as long as he’s made sure I've had an orgasm through other means. If not, it’s unacceptable. My expectations are high. I expect two orgasms for every one I give him, though five-to-one is ideal. But this is about intention, not numbers. At some point you have to take responsibility for your own sexuality and sexual pleasure.

Orgasms are (or should be) the cherry on top of the sexual experience, not the goal. Despite my own high standards, sex is about intimately connecting with someone first and climaxing second. Sometimes a man won’t climax. Sometimes a woman won’t. It’s okay. What’s not okay is being selfish in bed. If we have problems in the bedroom, it’s probably because we’re in our heads about it when we should just let it be. It’s sex. We’ve been doing it successfully for thousands of years. Sure, it's easy to pass the blame on men, but women not doing anything about it certainly doesn't help things.

And to the rare men who are still selfish lovers in 2017: You are less of a man for not caring enough to make a woman climax. It's embarrassing. To the ladies, I’ll say this: Take charge of your orgasm. And instead of faking it, gather the courage to say, "Be willing to learn—or get the hell out of my bed."