How the modern female orgasm strokes heterosexual male ego
Here’s a fun fact: sometimes I just can’t fucking cum.
As much as I squeeze my dildo up higher and crank up the vibration, my body is not feelin’ it.
A while ago, I was having sex with someone after a lovely first date. Let’s call him Luke. He came, laid back and asked the famous question: “did you cum?”
I awkwardly responded, “no, it’s okay though!”
“Really?” Luke seemed offended. He stuck his fingers inside me and began to speedily finger me to get the job done. I removed his hand and explained that I felt satisfied for the night.
“But you didn’t cum?”
“Sometimes I can’t cum.”
“Are you sure? I want to make you cum. I can make you cum.”
No, Luke, you can’t right now. Get over yourself.
The female orgasm is complex. It takes longer to achieve (sometimes up to 20 minutes) and often requires more technique. To add to the confusion, there is a prevalent assumption that without men, women could never orgasm.
Even orgasm language enforces this storyline. We hear things such as “he made me cum” rather than “I came” and “he gave me an orgasm” rather than “I had an orgasm.”
Yet, even with the idea that it’s a man’s job to give women orgasms, there is a huge orgasm gap between heterosexual partners. In a study examining about 800 college students, 39% of women and 91% of men said they usually or always experienced orgasm in partnered sex.
This gap results in societal rewards for men who actually make women cum. Guys pat themselves on the back for being woke. They are on a higher plane. They want women to feel good! Wow!
In the case of Luke, he wanted to make me cum because he wanted to feel good about himself. He hungered to be the magical, modern man that gifted me with a squirt. I left that night feeling guilty for not “cumming for him.” I wondered if I should have bitten the bullet and faked it.
I’ll admit it; I’m part of this problem. I have encouraged heterosexual men to hail themselves as heroes when they make me cum. In the past, I would animate my awe when I came with a man: “Oh my god! I can’t believe it! You’re doing it! I’m cumming! Good for you!” I have not once, BUT TWICE, moaned, “god, you’re such a feminist.”
I’m not the only one who has exalted men able to “make” women cum. In 2004, sex positives and feminists praised sex counselor Ian Kerner’s She Comes First. The book taught men about the female orgasm and included a step-by-step guide to eatin’ pussy.
This book should have been a breath of fresh air, right? I mean, if it’s a man’s job to make a woman cum and statistically speaking, women aren’t cumming…isn’t this a step forward?
I don’t praise this book AT ALL. Neither does Lux Alptaraum in her book, Faking It: The Lies Women Tell About Sex – And the Truths They Reveal. She explains that Kerner’s book “served less to liberate women or improve heterosexual men’s bedroom behavior than to set up a brand-new paradign for what sexual experience ‘should’ be like.” After all, the title alone is a command to women during sex.
And thus, we get the Luke-type, madly fingering my sore vagina. These men aren’t invested women’s happiness but rather a “badge of honor and proof of a man’s virility, rendering women’s actual needs, desires, and authentic pleasure subordinate to the appeasement of the heterosexual male ego.”
What is left out of the Sex Comes First narrative, explains Alptaraum, is “women who – for whatever reason – don’t want their orgasm prioritizied during sex, or don’t want to, or can’t, orgasm at all.”
She Comes First expands the myth that good sex requires an orgasm. If Luke didn’t make me cum, did the sex count? The sex we see in movies and porn ends with a grand finale. Both people cum at the same time, aggressively moan, and then collapse, panting and sweaty.
But, as mentioned above, sometimes you just can’t fucking cum. So, we fake orgasms.
Often women are accused of faking orgasms to get subpar sex over with, explains Alptaraum. Yet, I have faked orgasms during amazing sex. I felt satistified without a big O and ready to end the sex act. Out of fear of disappointing and embarrassing my partner, I clenched my vagina and loudly screamed “I’m coming!” I felt like I would rather put on a show than later comfort a bruised male ego.
Media portrays orgasms as mind-shattering, glorious rewards. A piece in Cosmopolitan describes the big O as “better than chocolate, cake, wine, a juicy juicy episode of Real Housewives…It’s basically one of the best things we’re able to experience – especially those full-body, toe-curling, ‘scream out loud and don’t care’ orgasms.”
The media also talks up the gift nature of an orgasm. It is described as something special given by someone you love. I grew up wondering what dream guy would shoot me off to toe-curling heaven. The fact of the matter is, women are extremely capable of making themselves cum and many women may never have an orgasm with a partner.
Women are told that when you cum for the first time, you’ll know it right away because it will be THAT incredible.
I think I came for the first time by humping on my pillow at age 10. I don’t remember anything earth-shattering. I remember feeling good for a bit and then feeling done. No volcanic eruption. No blackout. Just done.
Yet, when women fake orgasms, they pull out all the bells and whistles. They moan and flail. Sometimes, even when I have been ACTUALLY ORGASMING, I have sprinkled in some fake screams just because I thought that’s how cumming was supposed to look.
Here’s the thing! It is wonderful that our society is starting conversations about female anatomy and orgasms. However, these new talking topics don’t mean that we have achieved equal sexual experiences for men and women. The interpretation of the female orgasm as a gift from man and the pressure on women to fake orgasms are ways that heterosexual sex is still male-centered.
I am tired of women feeling ashamed for not being able to cum or not enjoying certain sex acts (such as getting eaten out) that are branded as earth-shattering when done “right.”
There is no “right” way to have sex. An orgasm is not the spectacular end-all-be-all.
It is not awkward if a partner doesn’t cum but feels satisfied (for both men and women!). Attempting to force an orgasm out of a woman is never a good idea. – HS
Hannah Schweitzer is Popularly Positive’s Sex Editor and the host of Boston University’s “Love is on the Air.” She can be pitched using firstname.lastname@example.org.