I’m starting to question a lot of the sweeping statements made in the name of science and research about women’s bodies and their physical capacity to orgasm. Because if there’s one place research cannot seem to get its shit together, it’s about the female big O.
My latest question is about the oft-repeated stat that up to 50%/70%/80% (depending on which study you’re reading) of women cannot orgasm from penetrative sex. I’ve used it myself.
But some sex educators, sex therapists and sexologists are so certain about this, that they’ll repeat the ‘X% of women cannot orgasm from penetrative sex’ and add to it the addendums: ‘There is no such thing as the G-spot’ or ‘There is no such thing as an internal orgasm’.
The story goes that women need direct clitoral – that is, stimulation to the little external bean – to ‘achieve’ orgasm.
Anecdotally, it seems about right, yes? If you just lay back and systematically poked a penis, finger or a dildo in and out of your vagina, you’re unlikely to get a lot of joy. The clit, or at least the little bit that pokes outside your body, is super sensitive, fairly easy to manipulate and any kind of rhythmic grind is likely to get you off.
So, the fundamental take-away to women’s sexuality lessons today is: It’s all about the clit.
Ok. Now let’s put that to the side, and look at some facts about the clitoris.
First off, our ‘discovery’ of the massive internal structure of the clit is very new. The full structure of this little pleasure palace was outlined in 1998 but our collective awareness has only focused in on the ‘new reality’ of the clit since 2009. I’ve got bras older than that.
I’ve written about the internal structure of the clit before, but in brief: the clit is an internal and external organ made up of erectile tissue and has more nerve endings than the penis (about 8 000, we’re told). It’s the only part of the human body created solely for pleasure – it has no other function. Its wishbone-shaped structure runs along both lengths of your labia and its little arms almost wrap around your vagina.
There is growing consensus that what we’ve been perceiving as G-spot or ‘inside’ orgasms are really just forms of clitoral orgasm. That because its internal structure is so big every time it engorges, the orgasm can be felt deep into the vagina.
Ok, let’s go back to those ‘X% of women cannot orgasm from penetrative sex’ and ‘G-spot/internal/deep orgasms/etc. do not exist’ chestnuts.
Now, I’m not saying that there are women who don’t experience these deep or ‘internal’ orgasms and that’s ok too. I believe orgasms have a million different textures and sex is about more than just getting off in the ‘right way’.
But ‘cannot’ orgasm from penetrative sex? Cannot experience deep, ‘internal’ sensations of orgasm?
The problem with these 50%/70%/80% stats is that they don’t take into account – or at least you never hear about – everything that plays into the test subjects’ capacity to experience orgasms.
What about their vaginal muscle tone and reflexes? What about their psychosexual make-up and how comfortable and accepted they feel in and outside the sexual relationship? Do they know how to touch themselves and tell their partners to touch them?
Or were they just asked: Do you have an orgasm when your hubby bones you?
If the clit is a small nuclear bomb of pleasure, created solely for the purpose of physical yumminess, a small nuclear bomb that is supposed to explain away G-spots and the like – then surely experiencing deep or ‘internal’ orgasms is not a matter of ‘cannot’, but rather one of not knowing ‘how’? At the very least.
Look, have any orgasm you like, it’s all good – internal, external, clitoral, A-spot, U-spot, G-spot, whatever. But don’t buy into believing that a part of your pleasure, your birthright almost, is not physically available to you.
Of course, even if you set semantics aside, there are many reasons you might feel this way.
If your first experience of penetration and your vagina as a sexual space is a jabbing at the hole with the overeager, inexperienced fingers or penis of a silly teenage boy whose idea of sex was created from bad porn and sexism, how quickly does that instill in you the idea that there is nothing arousing about your vagina? What if your first experience of penetration is traumatic?
There has also been a cultural need to de-emphasize penetration as a way of demystifying the penis. Women have been drip-fed the idea that a man will deflower them and give them the gift of orgasm via the penis. When this doesn’t happen, it’s easier to shrug off penetration and any power points inside the vagina as a bad call and to settle on pleasing the small area of exposed clit outside that everybody can see and vaguely understand.
But what about the other 90% of the clit that might need more stroking, pinching and pulling? What about the part of it that might need internal manipulation via the vagina, say where the ‘G-spot’ is, to enjoy really deep, internally felt orgasms?
I feel like we’ve approached the vagina with the on-off attitude we take to the penis. If the penis can ejaculate with an up/down, then the vagina should respond to a simple in/out. If it doesn’t respond, then it is a vagina that cannot orgasm. It may even be a ‘dysfunctional’ vagina.
God, the establishment loves itself some dysfunction.
Those that punt the ‘cannot’ stats love to hold up the clit as the be all and end all, but then seem blind to its capacity. But you can’t hold both realities. In my opinion your vagina and your clitoris have enormous capacity for pleasure and orgasm. There is no cannot.
‘Not able to (yet)’, ‘scared to (maybe)’, ‘unsure of how (possibly)’, ‘inexperienced to good lovers (definitely)’, ‘too traumatized, ill or medicated to’ are all possible substitutes.
Read Dorothy’s blog,