When it comes to sex, our society has two narratives for young women. It begins with the basics: contraceptives and consent. This is the core of sexual education in our country and often where the conversation stops, leaving a lot unsaid. What fills this gap? The second narrative on sexuality is a cultural dialogue: media, consumerism, pornography … This is how girls learn about sex.
Not only conflicting at times, these two narratives are incomplete versions of the truth. They consistently neglect a key component of sexuality. The biggest discrepancy in our cultural and societal discourse on sex is the failure to speak to female pleasure — and it’s directly impacting young women.
Young women are not nearly as informed as they should be on their capacity for and entitlement to pleasure. For example, while men and women equally engage in hookups on campuses, only half of women report climaxing in these casual encounters. Additionally, young girls are more likely to classify a sexual encounter as “successful” if their male partner was satisfied than if they themselves orgasmed. Good Clean Love founder Wendy Strgar describes this sorry state of affairs as an “If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me” complex. The problem, she says, is that it’s generational. Despite our perceived ‘sexual liberation’, young women are consistently settling for less than their male peers.
As a woman-owned intimacy company we wanted to do something to open up the dialogue surrounding pleasure — it is kind of our business after all.
That’s why Good Clean Love started the sexual health initiative, Make It Good. One of the focal objectives of Make It Good is to create a space to talk about equal pleasure, (In addition to advocating consent and the use of healthy ingredients within intimacy products.) Why is it important to talk about these things? While unaddressed by typical sex ed and practically purged from the media, female pleasure deserves recognition. The refusal or omission of these topics minimizes the sexual agency of all women.
Whether by not having the courage to advocate for our needs, permission to explore our own bodies, or information to make informed decisions — the grey area of pleasure is deeply hindering.
Good Clean Love isn’t the only business in the industry to speak out either. Our friends at Dame Products took on the orgasm gap in 2014 with their innovative couples vibrator, Eva. Designed to provide clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex, the creators describe Eva as “born of necessity”. Their commitment to equal pleasure resonated strongly with our mission for Make It Good. If relationships aren’t equal, then how can they be healthy?
Stronger in numbers, we decided to pair up with the folks at Dame to give you the scoop on female pleasure: why it matters and some tips on how to obtain it.
So much ink has been spilled on the science behind the female orgasm that it’s easy to forget the role it can play in our lives.
In addition to lowering anxiety and helping your sleep cycle, orgasms burn calories, lower heart attack risk, and even boost your immune system. Elevated levels of oxytocin — the “cuddle hormone” — can alleviate anxiety, and make you and your partner feel more connected (if you want that!). And did we mention it can increase bladder control? Orgasms aren’t just fun, they’re functional. Like, Swiss Army Knife functional. We never leave home without one.
Whether your orgasms are a celebration, a fun secret, a pressure valve, a group activity, or something all your own, they come from your body, so you’re worthy of them! It’s especially important to remember that when others are involved.
We believe in closing the Pleasure Gap — our term for the discrepancy in pleasure between many women and their partners. Did you know that women are four times more likely than their male partners to describe recent sex as “unpleasurable?” That’s a lot of toes left uncurled, and immune systems left unboosted.
Your orgasms can make a lot of noise, but they can’t speak for themselves. We encourage women to be advocates for their orgasms, in a number of important ways. When it comes to partnered sex, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or intimidated to teach your partner what feels best to you, or how to do it better. Likewise, remember to be easy on yourself as well! Solo play gives you both self-knowledge and pleasure — a winning combo. Take your time to get to know yourself, and what works best for you.
Alex Fine, Co-Founder & CEO at Dame Products
We agree 110% and what better way to get to know your body than to experiment? Two of the most important aids for female sexual pleasure are lubricants and sex toys. In fact, a study in 2013 found that 9 out of 10 women who use lube report that it made sex more pleasurable and more comfortable. So it’s not surprising that nearly 50 percent of women who have used lube also say it makes it easier to orgasm. Climaxes come when we’re relaxed and taking friction out of the equation sure can help.
That being said, vaginal intercourse alone doesn’t do it for most women. In reality, nearly 75% of women need some type of clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. This is where vibrators come in handy. Studies have also shown that women who use vibrators are more likely to be confident with their bodies and in their sex lives. Aristotle famously said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. He may not have been speaking about masturbation but he might as well have. It’s easier to communicate with partners and advocate for your needs once you’ve learned what feels right for you.
The pleasure gap for us isn’t just a discrepancy in our orgasms, it’s a gap in our conversation about sexuality. There is a long history of de-legitimizing and dismissing female pleasure but hopefully by starting a conversation, the shame and misinformation can be combated. It’s only then that we can close the gap.
(As a sidenote: You can also have orgasmic pleasure without a definitive orgasm! We want all women to feel empowered to express their want for pleasure, orgasms, or a mix of one or both or neither. Orgasms are great, but there’s more to sex than a single concrete goal.)
If you think pleasure should be central to our understanding of sex, you’re not alone! Check out these up and coming organizations that advocate for a pleasure-informed sex education.