The Big O

Words by Ella McEwan
Art by Susie Nahm

It’s not uncommon to see men in movies getting off. If anything, men in film are getting off too easily, whilst women are merely along for the ride (innuendo intended). When I really mulled this over, I felt bad for these on screen women. Then, in my most obvious epiphany ever, I realised the lack of women climaxing hit closer to home than I thought.

After some frantic research on the topic, I discovered a 2017 study that found 95% of straight men regularly orgasm during sex. This wasn’t shocking news, but I was stunned when I learnt that just 65% of straight women orgasm consistently, and 50% of women fake it.

This is the Orgasm Gap, the disparity in heterosexual sex between men and women when it comes to orgasming. So why does this exist?

I think one of the main reasons behind this is that we prioritise the male orgasm. If you’re looking for proof, the same study found 86% of women with female sexual partners orgasmed regularly. Now don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying this is the fault of men, or the women who have sex with them. This seems to be more of a cultural issue, one that sees penetrative sex as the be all and end all of intimate encounters. This is weird, given that between 70 and 90% of women don’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone. The ways to change this are varied. The first is to understand what you like yourself, as it’s unrealistic to expect your partner to be able to get you off if you don’t even know how. Then, armed with this information, tell your partner. It seems embarrassing, but if I have to choose between an awkward conversation or unfulfilling sex, I’ll always pick the former. If you’re a woman or a man, having this conversation uplifts our self-esteem in the long run, and is incredibly empowering. If you aren’t comfortable having that conversation just yet, instead praise your partner when they do something you like, or ask to switch up what they’re doing to subtly tell them what you don’t like. At the end of the day, your partner wants to make sure you’re enjoying yourself as well.

There also simply hasn’t been enough scientific research done to understand how women orgasm. In 1982, a revolutionary book was published, one that popularised the term, the G Spot. One of the more notable authors, Beverly Whipple, argued that not only did the G Spot exist, but that male and female sexuality were almost identical, meaning both men and women could experience multiple orgasms. The book has since sparked debate over whether the G Spot exists, as study after study has found no physical proof. So does this mean it simply isn’t there? One study postulates that perhaps orgasm is achieved when the clitoris, urethra and anterior vaginal wall are all stimulated at once. Wherever it is, the fact all these different theories exist is a sign that we haven’t given enough attention to female sexuality and pleasure, science-wise.


Lastly, our education is the root of our behaviour. Sex education classes in schools tend to focus more on our anatomy rather than pleasure when it comes to women. All I can remember from my sex education is how babies are made in excruciating detail, and how to put a condom on a banana, which weren’t especially helpful when I wanted to understand my own body. I’m not suggesting we get super graphic with high-schoolers, but we could stand to talk more about sexual pleasure. Without this, teens are going to look to Hollywood and porn for answers, both of which are typically unrealistic when it comes to how women experience pleasure. If these sources are all we have to show us what sex looks like, it’s no wonder men aren’t sure how to get women off, and women aren’t sure why they aren’t orgasming. If you want media that will actually educate you while making you laugh, How Cum and Bobo and Flex are two podcasts that are honest and frank about sexual inequality and female empowerment.


The best thing and the worst thing about humans is that we’re all so different. There’s no one-way to achieve orgasm, and what got your ex off might not work on your latest partner. After all my hunting on the internet, I think the best way to start closing this gap is to open the dialogue. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one night only thing, the beginning of a relationship or your boyfriend of two years. Tell them what you want and ask them what they want. At the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw, sex shouldn’t be a quick transaction where women are just there to provide satisfaction. We should be equal participants, who deserve to orgasm just as much as our partners.

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