While sex isn’t a game, the best solution is to make sure everyone wins. Bex VanKoot explains how.
The stories we tell ourselves about our shared human condition shape society in weird, and often unglamorous ways. According to modern hook-up culture mythology, unhappy young women and all-too-eager young men are at odds with each other in nearly every way.
A Game that No One Wins
Not all men desire many partners and those who do are still in the minority. And young women are nearly as likely to engage in casual sex as men. College-age adults aren’t having any more sex than they did in recent decades past. The world isn’t about to be overrun with sex-crazed college kids.
But overall, young adults are more likely to have a casual sexual encounter than a long-term committed relationship. This shift in preferences presents a different problem.
The Pleasure Problem
Guys orgasm most of the time regardless of the emotional investment and commitment. But a woman’s orgasm on the other hand, is twice as likely in a relationship as in a hook-up. Why is that? Sex scientists argue that with hook-ups, men are less likely to focus on their partner’s pleasure and women are less likely to advocate for their own pleasure. Everyone seems to know the basic skills necessary to bring most men to orgasm, but that’s just half the situation
The problem is cultural. Not only are men convinced that the female orgasm is some foreign and difficult thing to understand, women often lack the skill set to talk about making a clitoral orgasm easy. And we certainly aren’t inclined to teach it to some guy we just met either.
Because talking about sex is serious business and female orgasms are hard work, right?
Wrong. The solution is actually just a few short steps away.
No More Zero Sum Games
The idea that sex is a sport is a common but problematic metaphor used to discuss sexual experiences. We might as well try to change this culture from the inside. It’s as good a place as any to start the process.
If sex is going to continue being one of our favorite cultural pastimes, we need it to be the kind of physical “sport” where only skilled collaboration wins. Let’s ditch the games where your sexual partner is your adversary you need to win something from. Sex isn’t Dodgeball or Capture the Flag. It’s a cooperative MMORPG (like World of Warcraft) and you won’t survive alone.
Play nice. Have fun. And try to learn something!
The New Rules
I’m all about making up your own rules of engagement, but here are a few of my thoughts on forming the guidelines for a new game.
1. SHIFT YOUR PRIORITIES: think for a few moments about what might be stopping you, or your friends, or the made-up dude on TV from feeling invested in a woman’s pleasure.
If a man is bragging about his sexual achievements without actually saying anything about how much his partner enjoyed it, what does that say about his priorities? It’s like quieting a room to announce how many participation awards you’ve won—it doesn’t say much about your skill.
Kitroeff’s blog points to the lack of skills as the primary factor of orgasm inequality: both communication skills and sexual ones. We still think of female orgasm as mysterious and complicated but few people have figured out that we can talk about all orgasms in pretty much the same way.
Make sexual skill a priority. It’s actually not as difficult as it sounds.
Think about giving a woman pleasure the same way we’ve all been taught to think about pleasuring a man: get turned on, find the sensitive parts, figure out the ways to touch those parts that feel the best and do that repeatedly for a reasonable amount of time. Lather, rinse, repeat. It really is that simple.
2. LISTEN TO THE LANGUAGE OF CASUAL SEX TALK: how do we talk about our sexual experiences with and about women? And how does the way we talk perpetuate the idea that the female orgasm is less important and more difficult than the male orgasm?
Doctors and scientists claim that women have other reasons for enjoying hook-ups, suggesting that orgasm inequality isn’t such a big deal. Maybe not, but why should her orgasm be a smaller priority than his? And who gets to decide whether not having an orgasm is important or not?
I’m all for focusing on more than just the orgasm. There’s no reason why we can’t enjoy the other primal pleasures of physical affection. But that only really works if the ease with which orgasms occur remains equal and if we expect mutual pleasure to be the norm.
3. CHANGE THE LANGUAGE: what is the object of your story: the pleasure experienced or the partner who shared it with you?
Become known as a man who loves to give pleasure. Talk to your partner in the same way you expect them to talk to you. And don’t perpetuate the finicky ladygasm myth. You can use your voice to create a culture in which a woman’s orgasm is as important and expected as a man’s.
Tell a new story and make a new mythology.
image credit: Flickr/.reid.