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S-E-X. Sex.

Why does the word make some of us queasy and turn our faces red? 

Even though many of us engage in it, the topic of sex is still seen as taboo and kept on the down-low. When a large part of sex involves pleasure, the discourse on the pleasure gap gets drowned out as well. Why are women struggling to achieve sexual pleasure compared to men?

Search up the definition of sexual intercourse on Merrian-Webster, and you’ll get “heterosexual intercourse involving penetration of the vagina by the penis”. There are many problematic things about this statement. Firstly, why is sexual intercourse directly related to just heterosexual relations? Doesn’t this definition completely rule out the existence of sexual relations among other sexualities thus, discounting their realities? That’s another topic to be discussed but let’s focus on how heterosexual relations centre sex around the penetration by the penis. Even though most women orgasm through clitoral stimulation rather than the vagina, the wonderful clitoris does not even get recognised as part of sexual intercourse (by the above definition). When a sexual organ that is vital for most orgasms in women is ignored, what does that tell us about the importance of women’s pleasure during sexual intercourse?

Fun fact (actually a very sad fact): studies have shown that more than 90% of men experience an orgasm when they have sexual intercourse, and only 50% of women do the same. Why are men having more orgasms than women? Someone from the Victorian era may argue that heterosexual sex is meant for reproduction and only a man is required to orgasm to reproduce. Therefore, men have more orgasms. Fortunately, sex is no longer seen as an assignment to tick off your to-do list and we can now appreciate the pleasure it gives. If it’s not Victorian men justifying the orgasm gap, it’s our modern-day counterparts arguing that female orgasms are harder to achieve compared to men. This statement might be almost acceptable, if not for studies showing that the rate of orgasms achieved via masturbation for men and women are almost the same.

Turns out, this myth might just be another excuse your sexual partner (and men at large) is using to avoid putting in effort into pleasuring you. 

In addition, with many believing female orgasms are harder to achieve than male orgasms, the lack of orgasm is then seen to be an innate biological abnormality in women. As the blame is put on women, there is a pressure to orgasm to be a “normal” woman. This brings about women faking their orgasms in order to be seen as adequate in bed as well as to validate their sexual partner. Women are going to the extent of faking their pleasure to satisfy their partners’ ego instead of focusing on themselves. As they continue to do so, they (and men) subconsciously start to buy into the belief that their orgasms are less important than men’s. A lot of the times heterosexual sexual intercourse ends when the man orgasms because these societal and gender dynamics have affected our perception of equal pleasure between men and women.

Unfortunately, it is ingrained in us that the male orgasm is a natural (and successful) result of sex while the female orgasm is just an added plus to the experience. 

With this quick breakdown of the pleasure gap, it’s now time to assess and ask yourself if you’ve been viewing sex in this way. If you were, start viewing female orgasms as just as expected as male orgasms. If you realised that you’ve been subconsciously putting more importance on male orgasms, here’s some encouragement to start embracing and exploring your sexuality and empowering yourself by getting familiar with your own body. Here are some tips on ways women can explore sexual pleasure: 

1. Familiarise yourself with your body 

Sometimes you just have to grab a mirror and your fingers and explore your body. Take note of the areas that make you feel good. This may feel weird in the beginning, but as you get to know your body better, you will start to understand the art of self-pleasure.

2. Sex toys 

If the fingers don’t do, sex toys are always the way to go. While certain devices may look intimidating, brands like Smile Makers create adorable, discreet vibrators to experiment with. Different toys target different spots so do a little research before purchasing your own best friend (we also have a guide to sex toys coming up so look out for that!).

3. Communicate with your partner

Long gone are the days of pretending and faking pleasure in bed. If your partner is having difficulty finding your pleasure spot, be understanding and communicate with them and show them what you enjoy. Don’t be afraid to guide their hands and body! 

4. Erotic Audio Books

If you’re an imaginative soul, audio stimulation may just be the trick! Plug in your headphones and choose an erotic fiction from this Spotify playlist!

Shona Menon

Nanyang Tech '22

Shona is an English undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University and the Campus Correspondent for HC Nanyang Tech. During her free time, you can find her watching a psychological thriller film or searching for yet another alternative band to listen to. She has a passion for advocating minority representation and hopes to one day create her own beauty publication that discusses makeup and skincare tips for brown beauties.
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