Kerry Cohen challenges assumptions about new evidence showing women and men have different experiences during casual sexual encounters.
Surprising news from The Journal of Duh: women tend to not orgasm during casual hook ups, and men do. In more surprising news: people are using this information to suggest women shouldn’t have casual sex, and that this is more proof men are selfish in bed. I don’t doubt that the quantification of climaxes means something. Here are five other possibilities.
1. Women don’t necessarily climax easily. Or, at least most of us don’t. When I was seventeen, you could cough too close to my ear and I’d come, but that time of easy orgasming was short-lived. Nowadays, you pretty much need to be, well, my husband, to know how to make me come. And, here’s a hint: it’s not through sticking your penis in my vagina. Here’s another hint: Watch and learn, because the most effective way for women to get off is on their own. The female orgasm is a complicated thing. While men have outies, we have innies. That thing between our legs is a mystery to most everyone, whereas it’s a pretty straight forward process for a man to get off (I know, I know, calm down. There are some intricacies for men, too, yes. But people who have sex with men know that the basic maneuver of intercourse is an almost guarantee for him to get off.) Sex without a committed relationship is an almost guarantee that the woman won’t, though, because she hasn’t yet taught you exactly what you need to do to pleasure her particular private parts.
2. Sex for women isn’t always about getting off. In fact, I’d say it only is about half the time. Sex for most women can be a way to get close to someone, to take pleasure in bodies entwined. It can be about attention, connection, good feelings, oxytocin, performance, and sometimes, it’s about the endgame. But only sometimes. For men, sex is about the endgame. It is also about all those other things, of course. For men and women, sex is about much more than the orgasm. But I think we can all agree that we know the sex episode has ended when the man busts a nut. Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps that’s not always the case. But when the man comes, the penis must withdraw because it won’t stay hard. I didn’t have to study Masters & Masters to figure that one out. Women, though, can come or not come, and you wouldn’t necessarily know. They can come multiple times (or some lucky women can), or they can fake an orgasm, or they can lose interest, or they can stay in a plateau state and not climax. My point is that women aren’t always in it for the orgasm. Maybe men are in it for the endgame because the mechanism of sex is an almost guarantee that he’ll get to drop his load, while women aren’t because it’s definitely not a guaranteed orgasm. I don’t know, but I do know that women aren’t always getting their legs over someone just to achieve an o.
3. Orgasms can be vulnerable. I don’t know about you, but I love it when my man comes. I love how I get this feeling that he is entirely beholden to me at that moment. All his control is handed over to me. To just me. I imagine he feels the same way when I orgasm. I trust him with that vulnerability, and he trusts me with his. That’s because we love and care for one another. When I was single and whoring it up with men I didn’t know, I didn’t want to hand myself over like that. I wanted to share my body. I wanted to swap bodily fluids and feel their hands all over me, but I didn’t trust them to that full extent yet. And I was entitled to make that choice. Men aren’t as lucky that way because if they don’t come, they face a whole other sort of cultural judgment.
4. Many men aren’t taught to care about a woman’s orgasm. Or, to put it another way, men are taught that they get sex, while women put out for it, so a woman’s orgasm is irrelevant, especially until he actually cares about you. Add to this cultural set up that the woman’s orgasm is mysterious and personal (see #1), and you get a man who either can’t be bothered or is too intimidated by a female orgasm. Maybe once he gets to know her he’ll work on that, but he definitely isn’t going to waste him time that first night, especially if there might not be another one.
5. Men and women are both taught that men are responsible for a woman’s orgasm. A ridiculous and repressive notion, yes, but my point is that’s a lot of pressure for men, who are built to orgasm easily. In Kitroeff’s essay, she quotes 23 year old Natasha who says, “’I don’t think he tried at all.’ [see #4] He fell asleep immediately, leaving her staring at the ceiling. ‘I was really frustrated,’ she said.” Really, Natasha? Really?? I want to shake her. And then I want to hand her a vibrator and suggest she go to the bathroom and turn on the shower to drown out the noise.
Hook up culture isn’t unequal. It’s simply culturally built.
What do you think? Is my assessment fair? Men, do you find hook-ups unequal? Is there something you feel you miss out on in hook up culture?
Is shattering stereotypes about men your cup of tea? Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.
Photo: Flickr/s pants