While many women understand that overall pleasure, exploration, intimacy, and play should all be at center stage in a sexual experience, and not simply an orgasm (although, let's be clear, it is still an important component), the latter often eclipses all else — which is why and how things can often go south. In fact, sex experts agree that goal-oriented sex can actually take the fun out of it for women altogether.
Thanks to social movements like The Cliteracy Project, an art series with the mission of educating a largely “il-cliterate” culture, women are more open to talking about their sexual experiences, preferences, and struggles than ever before. One of the major focal points of female sexuality to emerge in recent years involves the very real orgasm gap between men and women and the root of its existence. According to a 2016 study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior that looked at more than 52,500 adults in the U.S. — including those who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual — 95 percent of heterosexual men reported they usually or always orgasmed during sex, compared to just 65 percent of heterosexual women.
So, why are people creating a goal around something that should just have to do with mutual pleasure? Well, much of it can be traced back to a more archaic view of male and female sexuality — and orgasms in general. “Because the male orgasm is crucial to procreate, our society has built this idea that the male orgasm is crucial for sex; that sex begins with a hard penis and ends with a flaccid penis. Since women don’t have to orgasm to create life, it took a different level of societal importance,” says Shan Boodram, certified intimacy educator to The Zoe Report. "With that said, the majority of sex today has nothing to do with the desire to procreate. In fact, the orgasm numbers for women skyrocket in same-sex partnerships compared to heterosexual relationships. When you are with a same-sex partner, there is nothing to prove — it’s just about what feels good, and that is when naturally more orgasms and more pleasure occurs."
Moral of the story here? Sex should be about being in the moment, true intimacy, and enjoying one another. It's not a race to the finish line. “If you look at sex like, how good can I feel for as long as I want to feel it and for as long as my partner wants to feel it, great," says Boodram. "And if an orgasm is the final result, even better. But if it’s just that you got more play time and felt great and relaxed, it’s still a successful sexual experience.”
Why Goal-Oriented Sex Is Sabotaging Your Intimate Life
Ashley Manta, sex and relationship coach and creator of lifestyle brand CannaSexual, seconds this notion. “Goal-oriented sex often robs the participants of the pleasure and joy of the experience," says Manta. "Often the pressure to be demonstrative while receiving pleasure and to reach an arbitrary goal, in this case the orgasm… keeps them fixated on a point in the future.” Like anything in life, if you take yourself out of the present moment, it becomes difficult to enjoy.
Again, to be clear, orgasms are absolutely important and should be enjoyed by all, however, according to Sensual Embodiment Coach and Priestess of Passion, Ani Ferlise, “our attachment to the orgasm is ignoring all the amazing, healing, and nourishing pleasurable experiences in our bodies! We as a society are addicted to this very specific kind of pleasure based off of a male-bodied orgasm — a buildup of sensation, then a release. It’s the false promises that movies and porn portray. It’s two minutes of extreme penetration and there are fireworks… probably not going to happen.”
When one can detach themselves from the notion that climaxing makes the overall sexual experience a success, one can then truly become sexually free. Redefining what the orgasm is for you can actually help you relax more easily into one.
How To Be More Mindful With Your Sex Life
Ferlise holds Sex Magic coaching programs and workshops to help women cultivate their sacred sexual energy which, in turn, become a microcosm to nurturing passion, vibrancy, and connection in their overall life. One thing prevalent in her teachings is mindfulness, which is about remaining present in the moment and being aware of one's bodily sensations. Intimacy starts with eye contact and can trickle into a conversation, a physical touch, or an energy exchange, even before any clothes are taken off. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and to feel the desire, lust, and emotions as they come can help redefine the orgasm.
“Letting yourself sink into all the subtle sensations of pleasure, really leaning into it and feeling it in your body, and taking the same stock in that, can help you come back into your body and turn up the pleasure all over,” Ferlise says. When one is hyper focused on outside factors, they can train themselves to disassociate during sex, pushing their minds away from sensation, which ultimately decreases the amount one is able to feel.
Top Sex Tips For Ultimate Pleasure
Teach Your Partner What You Like
Manta tells her clients to “relax and breathe… and focus on what brings you the most pleasure, instead of what you think is going to get you off. Mimic the things you do when you're masturbating and show your partner how you enjoy being touched.” Exploring self-pleasure is a great place to start in knowing what you like and dislike. Intimacy is uniquely personal — everyone’s body and interests are different, and we should communicate that to our partner or partners.
Get Out Of Your Head
One major complaint Ferlise says many women have during sex is that they think too much about how they look, how their partner feels, and how they are performing. “Adding all the body shame, the fear of being seen, and the fear of vulnerability, the fear of being broken because you think you can't orgasm, the shame of not performing right — that so many women experience — it leads to a disconnect in your body and can cause you to check out during sex,” Ferlise says. Evidently, your partner will be much more turned on and notice the level of intimacy if you can truly unwind by letting go of these inhibitions.
Accessorize Your Sex Life
Adding tools into the mix can help build confidence in the bedroom. If you don’t feel completely comfortable being naked, try wearing sexy lingerie you feel great in. If you find yourself worried about lubrication and all that comes with it, try enlisting lube or organic coconut oil on your vulva to help ease your mind.
Movement is a helpful tool to be more present. “Move your body sensually in whatever way feels good," says Ferlise. "Start to breathe into yourself deeply and focus your mind on your [vagina] and allow yourself to make some noise. As you exhale, you can moan and release sound. Your throat and your jaw are directly related to your pelvic bowl, and if they are tight and closed, so is your pelvic bowl.”
How To Embrace The Sex Life That Works For You
Women have an incredibly powerful sexual energy with great orgasmic potential. But this expands far beyond society's picture of the “Big O.” Not only has culture suppressed the conversation and education around sex but it has put the female orgasm into a tiny box when it deserves so much more than a toe curl and high-pitched moan.
Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and unapologetic in their sexuality, whether that be via BDSM or missionary style twice a week. Closing the pleasure gap starts with experiencing and experimenting what works for you and letting go of the goal-oriented mindset. Don't negate the importance of orgasms, but rather shift your mind to focus on how to achieve more overall pleasure. You deserve to feel safe and free in your body, as you are, at its highest potential.
Below are some products that help enhance sexual pleasure and health for people with vulvas. A happier healthier sex life should be on the top of everyone’s to-do list.