7 April 2015 - by Christine Webber and Dr David Delvin
Christine and David have years of sexual health experience between them and have seen a lot of changes in attitudes to sex and relationships. In this post they share some of the myths they’ve heard about female orgasm and explain why women’s sexual pleasure still needs to be taken seriously.
Female orgasm: changing attitudes
Attitudes to female orgasm are changing – but rather slowly!
When one of us (DD) was a medical student, it was widely believed by gynaecologists that ‘most women don’t have orgasms.’ Our textbook stated that ‘25% of women are constitutionally frigid.’
A few years later, the famous Masters and Johnson decided that women who didn’t climax during sexual intercourse must have a medical disorder called ‘Coital Orgasmic Inadequacy’. And far into the 1970s, a general practitioners’ newspaper regularly received letters from GPs who said ‘there is actually no such thing as a woman’s orgasm!’ One family doctor regularly wrote in to tell us that ‘the only female orgasm is childbirth …’
Not enough men are taught about the clitoris
Today, things are very different. Most doctors seem to be reasonably clued up about female orgasm. But among the public – and especially the male public – there’s still work to be done. For instance, here are some of the things that men have said to us:
- ‘You wanted me to rub my wife’s clitoris – but I assure you, that does nothing for me.’
- ‘I had intercourse with my girlfriend for 45 minutes – but no matter how hard I thrusted, she still didn’t come.’
- ‘I simply don’t understand my wife’s reactions. Surely she should climax as soon as I do?’
- ‘My fiancée says I’m not satisfying her. I assume that’s because she thinks my cock isn’t big enough.’
An astonishing number of men simply aren’t aware that the clitoris is the anatomical equivalent of the male’s penis – and that therefore, if you want your partner to come, you really must stimulate it.
Naturally, women tend to be a lot better informed about what causes orgasm – and where the clitoris is. So perhaps it’s not surprising that so far we have never seen a lesbian patient who complained that her partner could not bring her to orgasm.
However, we are quite often contacted by heterosexual females whose male partners can’t (or won’t) ‘bring them off.’ These women tend to tell us things like ‘I’ve tried to show him where it is, but he still can’t find it!’
The role of sex and relationships education and porn
Part of the problem seems to be that men are so woefully ill-informed about the female orgasm – and about what causes it. Many young men say that at school, they were taught ‘nothing’ about the clitoris and its function.
Another factor seems to be the influence of internet pornography.
Why does porn focus on male orgasm?
It’s been shown that these days, the majority of younger males look at porn. Often, they rely mainly on these very rude (and very daft) productions for their sex education!
But porn films can be very misleading indeed. The majority of them make no reference at all to the idea that women might want orgasms. And most of the time, the films don’t show anyone trying to stimulate the clitoris. Generally, the plot is to be along the lines of the following:
- the ‘hero’ is desperate to get his organ inside the ‘heroine’
- he rapidly achieves penetration
- he thrusts away intensely – while she just moans and groans a bit
- eventually he has his orgasm – which is clearly the main object of the exercise
- however, just before he climaxes, he ‘pulls out’ – and then ejaculates over some nearby part of her anatomy, such as her abdomen.
Apparently, the purpose of this rather bizarre, but almost universal, ending is to reassure the viewer that orgasm really has taken place (male orgasm, naturally). The image showing the man climaxing is always referred to as ‘the money shot.’
Female orgasm needs to be valued
Does it matter that so many blokes don’t seem to have any idea of how to bring a woman to orgasm?
Well, yes -- it does, really. We receive quite a few letters from females who feel angry and frustrated because their male partners are ‘Roll-on, roll-off Romeos’ – chaps who think that all you have to do is to get your sperm into the woman – and then roll over and fall asleep. In our view, that should be grounds for divorce!
Why? Well, females really shouldn’t be lying in bed feeling cross and unfulfilled, just because some ignorant guy has ‘warmed them up’ – but then left them unsatisfied.
Indeed, it seems to us to be a self-evident truth that women are as entitled to pleasure as men are. So it simply isn’t fair that in so many relationships, the woman doesn’t often get to enjoy the dizzy heights of orgasm.
The benefits of (multiple) orgasm
After all, as one patient told us, ‘An orgasm gives a woman five things:
- a build-up of terrific excitement
- then a complete release of tension throughout the mind and the body
- also, a feeling of warmth and happiness
- plus an increased sense of bonding and closeness with someone you love
- and finally, a post-orgasmic experience of great wellbeing.’
We think she summed it up pretty well. So, we reckon that someone should start a campaign to allow females more orgasms – and multiple ones if they want them. (Incidentally, our latest research suggests that a majority of British women have had multiples.)
An alternative is to do what one woman suggested, and simply change the name of the clitoris to The Queen’s Head.
‘After all,’ she said, ‘even though most men can’t find the clitoris, they can always find their way to a pub.’
Christine Webber is a psychotherapist and advice columnist. Dr David Delvin is a sexologist and family planning expert. They are the joint authors of the book The Big ‘O’ (Hodder & Stoughton)