man in suit

Worrying about how many calories you’re burning while having sex seems like one of the worst kinds of punishment. Instead of just noticing how your body is feeling, you’re distracted by thoughts like, “Does taking my clothes off burn 10 calories? 20?”

This article on woman empowerment encourages women to think about their bodies this way. Sex becomes an activity to enjoy not in itself, but as a means to an end: to get thinner.

As a woman, I am tired of that kind of thinking. I want to have the confidence to enjoy what I’m doing without worrying about how my body looks, or will look. I want to gain confidence in bed and to feel how my body feels, and let that be enough.

Confidence–studies show women generally feel much less of it than men do. Even women who seem to be at the top of their game, professional basketball players and CEOs and lead research scientists, suffer from a lack of it.

According to the authors of “The Confidence Gap,” “There is a particular crisis for women—a vast confidence gap that separates the sexes. Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities. This disparity stems from factors ranging from upbringing to biology.”

For instance, one study found that “men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women do, and that when women do negotiate, they ask for 30 percent less money than men do.”

In a study published in 2011 by Ernesto Reuben, a professor at Columbia Business School, men consistently rated their performance on a set of math problems to be about 30 percent better than it was.”

In fact, study after study has confirmed that men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Yet their performances do not differ in quality.

“Women feel confident only when they are perfect. Or practically perfect,” the authors observe.

Not surprisingly, then, “We still have an orgasm gap,” according to Dr. Herbenick, who is a research scientist at Indiana University and the sex educator at The Kinsey Institute. “While 85 percent of men thought their partner had an orgasm during their most recent episode of sex,” Herbenick says, “only 64 percent of women reported having an orgasm.”

I know more than one woman (including, at times, myself) who has the idea, I’ll enjoy sex only when I feel like I look good doing it. Look good to whom? To him, of course, or to an imaginary “him,” a man vaguely based on my partner whom I cast in the role of my judge.

I want to point out that this way of thinking is really messed up. It perpetuates the confidence gap, but most importantly, it keeps one from enjoying an enjoyable activity.

Consider: Do you feel sexy to yourself when you are doubting yourself? I know I don’t.

When I’m full of self-doubt in bed, I’m way less likely to get on top, a position I enjoy because it’s more active than being on the bottom and gives me more freedom to move around during sex. It also gives more control over the pace and depth of thrusts, which many believe is beneficial for women who have trouble getting to an orgasm.

By focusing on maintaining your confidence in bed–rather than on how your body might look or how many calories you think you’re burning–you’ll be able to have more active, fun sex, and you’ll be way more likely to have an orgasm. Check out this article to learn about the female orgasm. Doesn’t that sound better, and healthier, than just “burning calories”? Go ahead and get on top.