7 Dangers Of Buying Into The Orgasm Gap
Working in the sex industry, I’ve recently heard the term orgasm gap a number of times in blog posts, on social media and in press emails to me. What is this orgasm gap? Why is the spotlight on it now? And why do I believe there are dangers associated with it?
How The Orgasm Gap Became A Thing
According to a study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior in February 2017, 95% of heterosexual men orgasmed during sex compared to only 65% of heterosexual women. Although folk of other sexualities were also included in this study, it was the difference between heterosexual men and women’s orgasm frequency during sex that gave rise to this phrase: the orgasm gap.
What I Don’t Have A Problem With
I will say here and now that I don’t have a problem with research into sexual behaviour of a wide variety of folk, and studies which aim to highlight ways in which more people can experience sexual pleasure are, in my opinion, a good thing. What I’m less than impressed with is when such research is used to either beat a certain group of people over the head, and/or to sell them products to ‘solve’ their problems.
The 7 Problems I Do Have
I’ve seen several adult industry businesses use the research from the recent well-intentioned study in ways I find distasteful, to say the least. Forgotten are the other sexualities mentioned in the study, for the most part; hetero sex is where all the attention’s at. Isn’t it always. Here’s why I find the common use of the ‘orgasm gap’ in the adult industry specifically to be short-sighted and offensive.
1. It Assumes Orgasms Are The Main Goal Of Sex
Not everyone dives into bed with another person in order to have an orgasm. Sure, they’re nice… but I don’t believe sex is a race to orgasm and I think it’s very short-sighted to push that opinion on to the world. Do people really only have sex with each other so they can personally reach orgasm? It’s a selfish way to approach sex, and this thought is probably what has led to generations of hetero men thinking sex is over the moment they ejaculate. Let’s not preach the misnomer that orgasms signal the end of sex.
2. It Assumes Sex Without An Orgasm Is Terrible Sex
But is it, really? Are you really telling people that if they have sex with someone else or engage in sexual activity and don’t orgasm – it was a fail? A waste of time? Plenty of hot humping and frenzied frottage encounters say otherwise.
3. It Assumes There’s Something Wrong With At Least One Of You
Using the orgasm gap in this way assumes there’s something wrong with either the person who does orgasm (leading to guilt that their partner didn’t), the person who didn’t orgasm (leading to anxiety/shame) and/or the sex session in general.
Aren’t enough people in the world anxious over their sexual ability/ability to orgasm as it is, without using research to beat them into a state of frightened inertia?
4. It Perpetuates The Myth That All Sex Is Hetero
Ignoring the other stats in the orgasm gap study and simply focusing on the divide between orgasm rates amongst hetero men and women results in an incredibly heteronormative tone.
You might think, “oh well, the other stats are there for those who want to read them”, but by bleating about how much men orgasm and how little their female partners do, you’re actually implying that either most if not all sex is hetero, or that the only sex which is ‘normal’ and/or ‘matters’ is hetero. A dangerous and already widely held view that sexuality activists are continually trying to change.
5. It Perpetuates The Gender Binary Myth
Repeatedly using the orgasm gap and associated data in your marketing spiel, your press releases, your product taglines and advertisement perpetuates the myth that all people are one of two genders. It’s all ‘men do this’ and ‘women do that’. But not everyone having sex identifies as either male or female.
Please stop supporting the outdated opinion that everyone in the world is one of only two genders.
6. It Encourages A Gender-Based Orgasm/Sex War
Marketing founded on the het sex orgasm gap seems to assume that women are so insecure in the face of Men/The Patriarchy that they will do anything not to be beaten in anything, even sex & orgasms. Yes, even buy your product.
We can’t let the men have more orgasms than us, girls! Quick, better buy that guaranteed O product so the mens don’t win!
Don’t you think there’s enough gender based tension in the world without inciting more division?
7. It Preys On People’s Insecurity For Profit
So why do adult industry/sexuality-based businesses really care about the orgasm gap? I’m not convinced they actually do, in all honesty. Although the initial study was unbiased and well-intentioned, I believe the stats from it were convenient for this industry and are being presented in a way which preys on people’s sexual insecurities to sell more products.
3 examples of hetero-normative orgasm gap marketing spiel, with the primary purpose of selling products (click to enlarge images)
Business is business of course, but the cases where I’ve seen the orgasm gap phrase being used has so far been in relation to selling something and nothing else. No education (unless you count educating people on what products they can buy from you, like sex enhancers, potions, lubes and sex toys) and no genuine desire to help.
It’s the exact premise the beauty industry has been profiting from for decades: tell people there’s something wrong with them, there’s a problem, then sell something to them to fix it. Tell people that the gender they’re trying to attract will find them irresistible with this product… buy it now.
What Businesses Could Do Instead
I find it distasteful and offensive to use the research from the recent sexual study simply to make money, and to do so via the route of inciting negativity such as guilt, jealousy, shame and insecurity.
Instead, why not encourage people to research better ways to have sex – for them? Instead of throwing your weight behind increasing orgasms for simply one group of people, why not encourage discussion on topics like whether people of any sexuality and gender feel that orgasm is a necessary part of sex? Or teach techniques (that don’t necessarily include your fancy new product) which lead to satisfaction for both partners – not necessarily with orgasm as the aim?
Lose The Pressure, Welcome The Pleasure
For all sex-havers out there, I’ll say it again. I don’t believe sex is a race to orgasm. Orgasm isn’t the finish line, and you haven’t failed if you don’t tick that particular box during sex. You don’t have to feel pressure to ‘make’ your partner orgasm, and you don’t have to feel pressure to ‘orgasm on demand’ so you and your partner feel you’ve ‘done it right’.
Sex is a personal activity by nature, so talk to your sex partner(s) about what you’d personally like. If there’s an aspect you’d like to improve on, or that you’re feeling insecure about, tell them. Share your feelings and aim for open communication at all times. It’s the only way to ensure that you are having the best sex ever – for you personally.
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