Ladies…We Need To Talk About Orgasm Inequality

One of my favourite North African women writers is Alifa Rifaat. Her short story collection titled Distant View of a Minaret gave me an indepth look into things like female genital mutilation, lack of education for girls and the manner in which women tell lies to ourselves in order to stay with emotionally abusive men.

In addition to the above three, that short story collection also gave me a look into what is now termed orgasm inequality. In the first story, the writer described a woman whose husband was so selfish in the act of lovemaking, such that as he was sleeping with her, her mind was more concentrated on how to clean the spider webs on the ceiling. Not just that, the story went on to describe how in the early years of their marriage, when they had sex, each time he saw that she was about to climax, he would abruptly stop the act intentionally and leave her unsatiated. This was such that she often had to masturbate shortly after the act in order for her to reach an orgasm.

I have often thought about that scene when I see statements like: “Stop this obsession with female orgasms”; “I can never give a woman head” and “Even when sleeping with men as a woman you have to hustle for your orgasm”. I have seen variations of these three statements online and in particular on Twitter during conversations on pleasure and sex. Hardly have I seen men being told not to expect to receive head or to hustle for their orgasms when they are sleeping with women. 

It is expected that they must receive head as many times as they want. It is also understood for men that the very act of sleeping with another person or with a woman, means that you both have agreed to not “hustle” for your orgasms in that moment because well…you are not masturbating.

Orgasm inequality refers to the fact that compared to men, women and especially women who have sex with men do not experience as much orgasms and pleasure in sex. It also refers to the actions that make it such that this gap exists. Some of these actions refer to partners being selfish and intentionally not performing acts that can make women cum i.e not engaging in clitoral stimulation or what is better known as giving a woman head. 

Again, orgasm inequality can also describe how women are raised to pretend that the sex is good so as not to bruise a man’s ego. This is such that even when he gives her head and is terrible at it, she fake moans and makes him feel as though she did have an orgasm. It can also refer to women not being raised to be intentional about our desires such that we feel shame around sex and inadvertently are not bold enough to articulate what we truly want from a partner.

But how do we move from a place of shame, fear and pain to a place of body love and reclaiming of our sexuality? The first place to start is to detox your mind of the belief that your body is for an imaginary husband and that sex is shameful. When you believe that your body is to be kept for a husband you don’t know if you’ll ever meet, what happens is that you feel fear and shame when you experience arousal. 

This shame can even lead to sexual disorders like vaginismus that will affect you even when married. Unlearning shame around your body and being with people who respect your desires are a foundation to ensuring better sex.

Speaking with Vivian, a writer, she explains that she got her ability to be comfortable with her body and orgasms from exploring sex toys.

In her words: “Before now, I never really believed orgasm was possible for me, I liked sex but I never orgasmed. Sex was almost painful and boring. Then one day in 2020 (I started having sex at 16); I was about 23 or so in 2020. I bought an electric toothbrush and used it as a vibrator and I experienced squirting. It was… madness… that changed my life. I realised that I came from clitoral stimulation and not penetration or head and that was just my body’s function. I was already in a committed relationship then and I introduced him to my brush, we eventually added sex toys and now the rest is history.”

She went on to say: “I can now say that I’ve orgasmed (like literally cum) squirted and enjoyed sex. Unlike certain men, he doesn’t feel threatened by my toys, he sees them as tools, me getting turned on turns him on. I just want to encourage women to explore with sex toys. A vibrator and see if things change for them. 

They should not involve anyone else yet until they can successfully live on and pleasure themselves, when that happens for them, they can now involve other people. This is my story and I would like to share with other women how I overcame it.”

True freedom and equality has to touch on all aspects of women’s lives. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not irrelavant to discuss issues like sex, pleasure and women’s rights to orgasms.

Doing this ensures that “bigger” issues such as female genital mutilation and rape culture are looped into the conversation on women’s bodies.

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