Only 65% of straight cis women regularly reach orgasm during sex compared to 95% of straight cis men. A 2017 study revealed that ridiculous difference in sexual enjoyment. In a society that prioritizes male pleasure and puts it at the centre of heterosexual intercourse, how can we (re)take control of our pleasure? Sexologist Anne-Marie Ménard shares her knowledge and wealth of experiences in order to better equip us to enjoy our sexuality.
The terms “women” and “men” have been used to lighten the text and refer to people with a vagina and people with a penis respectively. This article is based on the sexuality of cis people; the experiences of trans and non-binary people with sexual pleasure are unfortunately still little studied.
Myth or reality? It’s more difficult for people with a vagina to reach orgasm than people with a penis.
This idea is widespread and has been around for so long that I, having a vagina myself, came to believe it and accept that my orgasms had to be less frequent than those of my male partners. But hang on tight . . . because that’s a MYTH.
If 30% more men have orgasms than women, it’s not because sex is more complicated for women to enjoy. Rather, this gap in enjoyment is reflective of the great lack of education surrounding the sexuality of people with vaginas, a lack that extends throughout the field of sexuality and actually applies to anyone. Still, it’s most glaring when it comes to female pleasure.
The sex scripts we read from in the straight world just don’t spend much time developing female pleasure. I’m sure we can all agree that the heteronormative sex script par excellence comes down to a 3-act play:
- There’s the beginning of the story, what people call “foreplay” (which is often skipped or given very little time);
- Then we move on to the middle of the story, which is sexual intercourse (here, we’re referring to penetration, which is placed on a pedestal in the beds of straight people);
- Before the credits roll, we get a little cuddle time,often following the male partner’s orgasm.
So the script is hyper-phallocentric and based on male pleasure. It idealizes penetration as the central activity, with everything else shoved aside. It’s therefore a part of sexual intercourse per se. Nevertheless, here’s a FUN FACT (well, not really all thatfun): only 1 in 5 women reach orgasm through vaginal penetration. Let’s put it another way: 4 out of 5 women will not reach orgasm thanks to penetration, despite all the glorification surrounding it! The external clitoris is the great forgotten element of this story…
First, let’s go back to that enjoyment gap. It doesn’t exist just between straight women and straight men, it’s also an issue among straight women and lesbian women (65% have orgasms regularly during sex vs. 86%). And it’s not because straight women are more complicated than lesbian women! It’s that the sex scripts lesbian women act out are really different.
What does it mean to be sexually fulfilled?
To be sexually fulfilled, you have to feel free. That’s the first funadmental. And freedom begins with knowledge. It can never be said enough that knowledge is power.
The starting point is unlearning the sex education we got when we were young. That education flowed mainly from the patriarchy, and it tinted the way we live our sexuality. If we can become aware of this and start breaking out of the small boxes the system has put us in, we can take a huge step toward greater sexual fulfillment.
- Question EVERYTHING you’ve been told about sexuality, from your orientation to your gender, your identity to the sexual script you perform. Ask yourself if you’re really doing what you want or just what you’ve been taught.
- Ask lots of questions! When you know all the options, you can consciously choose the right avenue for you.
- Surround yourself with resources. Books, Instagram pages, podcasts, Table Rouge. A lot of resources are at your fingertips if you want to start addressing this topic or delving deeper.
- Question what people say. Some people will just spout more myths, and we don’t want that!
In short, like Anne-Marie says, “Education is transformation.”
How can you unleash your sexual power?
Sexuality is part of our well-being in the broadest sense
initimacy is about much more than the sexual act itself. It also includes emotions, your relationship with yourself, and your relationships with others (both sexual partners and romantic partners).
Often, when someone’s facing challenges in their intimate sphere – for example, difficulty having an orgasm or a drop in sexual desire – it’s a sign that something’s going on in some other part of their life. We’ve often compartmentalized sexuality into a separate category, so much so that we sometimes forget that it’s actually part of a whole – it’s interconnected with the all the other aspects of our lives.
Masturbation (aka pleasure at your fingertips!)
If you feel the call to exercise some of your sexual power by, for example, throwing away the scripts imposed by society and exploring new horizons, why not discuss it with your partner(s)? For your partner to satsify your preferences, you have to learn them yourself first! Learning to tame our bodies often involves a little masturbation.
It’s a bit like when you try giving someone directions: if you’ve never taken the route yourself, you’re going to need a GPS; otherwise, you won’t be able to steer anyone anywhere. It’s the same thing with your body. How can someone who doesn’t share your body and can’t read your mind know what you yourself don’t even know? You’re just groping around in the dark!
Unfortunately, we hear a lot of negative – and totally wrong – things about masturbation, which deters many people from making it a common practice of sexual self-care. Things like: “If your partner masturbates, it’s because you don’t satisfy her sexually”; “Masturbation makes you deaf” (my aunt used to tell me that…); “You can’t masturbate too often, or you’ll desensitize your genitals”; etc.
Here’s an exercise to deconstruct beliefs that you may have internalized in spite of yourself. Take the time to write down some answers to the following questions:
- What have I been taught about masturbation? Write down everything, whether negative or positive. Then circle what you want to keep and cross out what you want to get rid of (you can also write your answers on pieces of paper and tear them apart, burn them, or whatever else makes you feel good).
- What would I have liked to have been taught about masturbation? And here, you can spoil yourself. It’s your story, your narrative. These are your beliefs. Writing them down is a way of taking back your power and giving yourself the permission you may need.
You’ve got your pleasure at your fingertips … so enjoy!
(Note that if you don’t like masturbation, it doesn’t matter – there are other ways to do it!)
Talking about sexuality, even when it’s going well (and especially when it’s going well!)
Often, we wait until something goes wrong before addressing the subject of sexuality in a relationship. Here’s a little tip: if you never talk about it when it’s going well, you create unnecessary challenges for when it isn’t!
Don’t panic if you’ve been with your partner for 5 years and you’ve never talked about sex. It’s happening today! After all, you physically get naked with that person, so you can reveal yourself in a discussion too!
It’s pretty weird,when you think about it, to not talk about sex with your partner. You get naked, have an experience together (or with others) that you don’t have with everyone else, and then you just put your clothes on and carry on like nothing happened? Compare that to when we go to a restaurant and have a great culinary experience and just can’t stop talking about it: “My lasagna was incredible!” Or “The atmosphere wasabsolutelyamazing!” Why don’t we do the same when it comes to sexuality?
Here’s a little tip for opening the discussion: Listen to the @aulitavecannemarie’s TikTok videos next to your partner with the sound turned up to the max 😉
- Pillow talk is your best friend
After each frolic, share with each other something you liked and something you’d like to improve or try the next time. Because the next time you have intercrouse won’t just be the next time you’re in bed. Nope! Right when the last time you’ve had sex ends is when the next time starts. Sexuality isn’t just genitals. And it can be prepared.
Example: “It was pretty hot when you took off my sweater. Next time, I’d like to be blindfolded when you touch me. How does that sound?”
- Mirror, mirror, show me my fantasies.
What do I experience in my fantasies? What do I think? What kind of porn do I watch, and what do I like about it (if I watch porn, that is)? Is that something I want to bring into my sex life? If the answer’s no, how do I offer my partner scenarios that resemble the ones I fantasize about?
It’s totally possible to prepare your dream scenarios in advance! Just because it’s not spontaneous doesn’t mean it won’t be any good. On the contrary.
A yes-no-maybe list can be a nice tool to express your needs, limitations, and fantasies.
Intensifying our orgasms: The edging method
Do you want more powerful orgasms? Well, that’s easy! You just need your fingers (or those of your partner) or your favourite toy! The practice of edging is all about delaying your orgasm as long as possible so you can accessnext-level enjoyment.
Here’s how it works:
On a scale of 1 to 10, the orgasm is a 10. Between those two ends, there’s sexual tension, the rise of arousal that brings you to orgasm. Edging is a wayof raising the tension up to 8 or 9 and then hitting the brakes so it goes back down to 6 or 7. You see me coming (ha!). You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down, and then you finally reach orgasm. During the process, you can change your masturbation technique, stroke yourself elsewhere, or whatever else comes to mind.
- Orgasms increase tenfold. Warning: you may go to the cosmos!
- For people with a penis, this is a good technique to try at the moment of ejaculation, which will lead to longer intercourse (if that’s your intention).
- Have greater control over your body: You choose when you want to reach orgasm. You’ll see, for many, it’s super empowering!
The famous sexual desire … how can you awaken it?
Be kind to your desire
Often, we tend to worry when our desire wanes a little, but actually, that’s totally normal! Desire is something that constantly varies, just like appetite. There are days when we’re hungrier and others when we’re less hungry. Period.
The more anger you cultivate in the face of your lack of desire, the more you resist it, the less desire you’ll have. So be gentle and kind to yourself ♡
Learn to recognize your turn ons and turn offs
Let’s do a small intro course on desire. This complex principle operates according to the system of duality, that is to say, it fluctuates according to the brakes and accelerators(turn offs and turn ons).). These mechanisms of sexual inhibition and sexual arousal work 24/7. And yes, even right now!
If you want to nurture your desire, it’s essential you recognize the contexts in which you feel turned on and turned off so you can get some control. We all have different sexual patterns. For one person, a turn off might be a bad smell, dishes lying around on the counter, or the dog in the bed. For another, it may be stress at work, the mental load of looking after children, or just having the light on for too long.
In short, get to know yourself without judgment. Positive sexuality is about welcoming ourselves into our differences, preferences, and desires. It’s what happens when consider that there’s not just one valid way of doing things.
We hope that these little nuggets of knowledge will allow you to enjoy life both in and out of bed!
Anne-Marie is an entrepreneur and holds a bachelor’s degree in sexology and a certificate in feminist studies. Her mission is to normalize discussions around sexual well-being in an inclusive and positive way. You can find Anne-Marie doing one of her weekend radio columns on FM93, and you can also follow her on TikTok and Instagram or one of its online platforms.
- Anne-Marie’s platforms: Instagram, Tiktok, website.
- Kali Yoni (artistic break during the Red Table live ): Instagram
- Making Love in a Divine Way (Barry Long book)
- Small Manifesto of Female Masturbation (book by Mélanie Guénette-Robert and Roxane Gaudette Loiseau)
- The Clitoris: The Truth Laid Bare (book by Alexandra Hubin and Caroline Michel)
- Oral Sex (podcast)
Promo code FEMININEPLEASURE: $10 off our entire online store!