Secret to turning on a woman every time
If I’ve learned anything from strangers emailing me with intimate details about their dating life, it’s that most women don’t like sex.
As a woman myself, it’s not entirely surprising. What is striking is how differently men perceive women’s sexual experiences.
A quick scroll of comments from all the columns I’ve written on female pleasure suggests that the majority of men think they are exemplary lovers. So much so that there is a confused disbelief sewn into their dialogue.
“This woman clearly slept with the wrong guys. I’ve never had a complaint ”is one of the most common reactions I’ve read from men when I talk about the orgasm gap.
It would be funny if it weren’t so revealing of our cultural shortcomings in sex education.
Frankly, it logically flows that men are not informed about female pleasure. We provide them with so little information about how women’s bodies work, it’s a miracle that we have satisfying sex.
This is only made worse by the fact that we raise girls to disassociate themselves from their sexuality – and in doing so, we make their silent sexual disappointment an inevitable one.
Researchers have long known that there is an anomaly in the way women reach climax when they compare solo and couple sex. Studies suggest that most women orgasm around the same time it takes a man to do so – as little as four minutes – during masturbation. But this number changes during sex.
A 2018 paper published in The Journal Of Sexual Medicine found that it takes an average of 14 minutes for women to reach climax when having sex with a partner. That’s more than three times the time it takes to get there when we’re alone. Plus, only 63% of us have an orgasm, compared to 95% of men.
So what is wrong?
Well, for starters, it probably doesn’t help that we can’t agree on what sex should look like in the first place. Countless studies on the subject point out that the only consistent thing about our collective definition of sex is how inconsistent it is.
For example, a investigation conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, found that only 24 percent of people considered oral sex to be “real sex.” Another, found that less than 40% of people think digital stimulation is a significant part of sex.
This is truly surprising when you consider that up to three-quarters of women need direct clitoral stimulation – something that is not usually achieved through penetrative sex – to achieve orgasm.
The vast majority of research indicates that when women receive prolonged deep, passionate kissing, manual stimulation, and oral sex, we are much more likely to come. And yet one of the main complaints I hear from paired friends is, “our foreplay is basically non-existent.”
The sex scenes in pop culture really don’t help our case. There is almost always an immediate leap between a male figure kissing a woman and the two figures depicted naked, in the grip of a vigorous penetrating sex. We don’t see how they got there, what discussion – if any – took place around consent and boundaries, or whether someone had to look for a bottle of lube or a vibrator to get things started.
The message is basically: kiss a woman and her clothes will fall off.
In truth, it is a little more complicated. While most men experience arousal spontaneously (that is, instantly and with or without stimulation), for women, desire is usually something that occurs reactively and depends on the situation.
In her groundbreaking book, Come As You Are, author and sex educator Dr. Emily Nagoski notes that 85% of women will never experience spontaneous desire. In other words, when women complain, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I never want sex,” what they really say is that they don’t feel. never spontaneous excitement.
Unfortunately, because we fail to recognize the complex ways in which women’s desire works due to the shame in which we envelop female sexuality, women often mistakenly believe that they are sexually broken and give up sex altogether. It’s no coincidence that the feeling of being broken leads – you guessed it – to more shame.
Shame has proven to be a historically powerful tool in subjugating, and ultimately sexually depriving, women. The theory behind it is this: teach girls that their bodies are dirty and their desires are not trustworthy, and we can prevent them from becoming promiscuous. The unfortunate consequence has been for women to experience unsatisfactory, sometimes painful and even non-consensual sex.
For women, good sex means recognizing the mechanisms of contextual arousal. If she has had a stressful day chasing the kids and resents her partner for not taking out the trash, she is unlikely to be aroused and, eventually, hit her peak.
The good news is that the reverse is also true. If she’s relaxed because her partner is doing her equal part without being asked, and she’s feeling sexy because she’s dressed for a date, she’s much more likely to be sexually receptive.
The probability of her orgasm will be further increased if her partner does not go GO and go straight to penetration. In particular, if the undressing is delayed and there are several minutes of passionate kissing. Add in oral sex and manual stimulation that recognizes the importance of the clitoris, and you have a recipe for satisfying sex for both parties.
It would of course be ideal if women could say this directly to their partner. Without a doubt, there are a few men who are reading right now and lamenting, “Why does this always have to fall on me?” – and look, I understand. But sadly, we still live in a culture that shames women for being suspicious of their own bodies and for being silent about sex. So in the meantime, I’m here to say it for them.
That could mean guys have to do a bit more work in the meantime, but it’s a pretty good compromise for a lot more sex – the kind of women who really enjoy, not just pretend.
Originally published as Secret to turning on a woman every time