The Orgasm Gap Leaves Women Finishing Last


This story originally appeared in the February 2018 issue of Jerk Magazine and was written by Danielle Edwards.  “Did you finish?” 

The first time I heard this question I was shocked. It had been my much anticipated -first time-and I hated it, but when my then boyfriend posed this question to me, grinning in self-satisfaction, I did not have the heart to tell him that I had not, in fact, finished. I remember laying in my bed later that night thinking that something had to be wrong with me: maybe I had finished and I didn't realize [this one I quickly threw out as I had orgasmed plenty of times on my own accord]. Maybe I was broken and could not enjoy sex with someone else, or maybe that was what sex was and I just had to learn to enjoy it. It was not until a year later, when I started dating someone new that I realized orgasms from sex are real.  

Throughout history, the female orgasm has been shrouded in mythology, coming across as more of an urban legend than actual occurrence. A simple google search of “female orgasm” pulls up countless Cosmo or GQ articles instructing readers on how to achieve the mystifying female orgasm that always seems to be right out of reach. Jokes about men being clueless when it comes to women orgasming are a dime a dozen across television shows and comedy routines. Deeply ingrained in our social norms is the idea that female pleasure is secondary to male. This orgasm gap is often discussed, but rarely is much done about it. A man's pleasure is considered paramount, and women will go to great lengths to get him there despite their hesitance to do the same for themselves. Once the guy finishes sex is generally over, and women are supposed to live with that.  

According to a 2014 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine,  85.1 percent in men experience orgasm during sex with someone they know, while only 62.9 percent of women do, a gap which the study classifies as statistically significant. (It is important to note that for men, variance in sexual orientation did not affect this statistic, but for women the study found that lesbian women experienced a mean rate of orgasm at 74.7 percent while the rate for heterosexual women was a staggering 61 percent and bisexual women at 58 percent). While this would lead one to believe then that men would notice this lack of orgasming in their partners, another study done by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction found that 85 percent of men believe that their most recent partner orgasmed, though only 64 percent of women report having an orgasm during their most recent sexual encounter. 

85.1 percent in men experience orgasm during sex with someone they know, while only 62.9 percent of women do.

Heterosexual men seem to be continually astounded that their female partners are just not finishing. Nobody who has seen When Harry Met Sally can forget the shock when Meg Ryan’s character Sally successful mimics a faked orgasm in the middle of a restaurant. Much like I did during my first encounter, many women find themselves in the midst of “faking it”, trying to assuage fragile male egos and convince themselves that 'hey, maybe this orgasm thing is overrated anyway.  

We deserve better.  

While I am not one to dictate the sexual preferences of other people, and I do believe sex can be pleasurable with or without orgasm, we are doing a great disservice to ourselves and our partners when we let them get away without satisfying our needs. There are many different reasons for the orgasm gap and some of them require cultural shifts to end [looking at you repressed feminine sexuality!] but there are simple ways we as individuals can have better sex, and who doesn’t want better sex?  

The easiest way to improve sex, (and hopefully achieve more orgasms on both ends,) is simply speaking up. Be honest with your partners when you don’t orgasm or when something isn't working for you, and encourage them to do the same for you. It can seem like a daunting task to tell someone that what they are doing isn’t working for you, but think about how much satisfying sex you’re denying yourself by not talking about it.   

Though I do not believe this orgasm gap will truly be closed anytime soon, work on closing it for yourself, so that maybe next time you are hit with the “Did you finish?” question, you can say that you did, and mean it.