Male orgasms are a punchline. Male masturbation is a subculture of sex. Impotence, premature ejaculation, starchy Playboys, dark internet search histories, hours locked in a bathroom, clogged community shower drains. It’s funny, right? Boners are funny when not threatening, jizzing is funny when it’s a comedy sketch.
But female orgasms are elusive. The female body is complex and mysterious, and our punchline is that we are difficult to please. Where is it? What is it? Young girls are buried under taught roles of innocence and purity, meaning that the sexual urges of a teenage girl are therefore dark and embarrassing.
We have to realize that from these two binaries, no one wins. From these binaries, men are crazed sex tools and women are delicate sex recipients. We’re taught that from the time they’re young, men feel constantly driven to satisfy themselves using either a woman or their hand, and when they don’t, they explode. Girls have bodies that aren’t safe to touch, that are withdrawn physically and socially, that are protected by the realm of “femininity.” Women’s sex drives are typically much lower than men’s, and therefore the woman will be the receiver or the deciding factor in the man’s opportunity to get off. He gets lucky when she consents.
For all the progress we have made in the world of discussing sex openly and honestly, we as a culture have a relationship with sex in which female pleasure comes out not only the loser, but the shy non-participant who forgot to sign up for the race.
My girlfriends are some of the greatest women I know. I’m sure yours are, too. Our girlfriends fly planes, read the classics, cook gourmet meals, ride horses, play piano, create art, ace calculus, and think the most original and brave thoughts that I have ever heard. They are our CEOs, our waitresses, our teachers, our accountants, our nonprofit managers, our journalists, our engineers. They make the world and they make it wonderful. But like the rest of us in this “developed” society, they are part of our culture’s sexist response to bodily pleasure and satisfaction. And they deserve better.
Too many of my girlfriends have complained about doing it while not in the mood. Too many have given blow jobs to little or no reciprocity, received anal in the hopes he’ll be satisfied with having “a cool girlfriend”, or faked orgasms to encourage his fantasies of masculine accomplishment.
These are women I love, admire, respect, and only wish to have the very best in everything they pursue. I only want them to be happy and satisfied in their emotional and physical relationships. These intelligent women with unique thoughts and unique ideas for the world deserve everything from life.
Where are we going wrong? Why are these women, my friends and your friends — maybe even me and maybe even you — unable to recognize that their sexual satisfaction can be the deciding factor between their right to say yes or no?
The problem starts early — and starts young. We need to teach girls to understand their bodies. We need to teach the female body in the same explicit way that we teach the male body. We need to stop joking about “jerking off” and start acknowledging masturbation as a physical act, not as just a man’s behavior or just a woman’s behavior.
When women understand their bodies, when they understand that they can speak about their bodies without judgment or shame, they will want the sexual relationships they know they deserve.
It should not be taboo for a girl to know what pleasure feels like on her body. If a woman knows what her body feels like and that pleasure is natural, allowed, and encouraged for women, there will be no taboo if she does not feel pleasure during sex. It is okay to perform oral and to receive oral, to desire anal if it is what you want, to fake an orgasm if you feel so inclined. It is okay. It is allowed, and you are free to whatever consensual action in which you and your partner agree to participate.
But you are also allowed to enjoy sex and climaxing and pleasure and release. It is possible for my girlfriends and your girlfriends to enjoy sex. It is possible for me and for you to enjoy sex. We are also not required to enjoy sex and are not required to fake it when we don’t.
We are allowed to proudly acknowledge that physical satisfaction is something which draws the line between what we want and what we do not want. We are free to find a sexual partner who can create, with us, a positive and equal physical experience.
No human being should have to tolerate anything before sex, during sex, or after sex that they do not find enjoyable or comfortable. Nothing ought to be expected from what a person should or should not feel when consensual sex occurs. Female bodies should not be mysterious enigmas darkened by claims to sexual purity, and male bodies should not be sexually frantic enforcers of ejaculation — the human body should be recognized as a vessel of greatness and opportunity, something that can be lived and experienced. Something that is allowed to both enjoy and desire pleasure, and to embrace the full potential of what it means to live a physical life.