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Report: Women don’t have orgasms in hookup sex. Feminists: Who needs orgasms?

November 13, 2013

Here’s a sad story, from the NYT:

Natasha Gadinsky, 23, says she doesn’t have any regrets from her years in college. But the time she hooked up with a guy at Brown University does come close.

After his own orgasm that night, she said, he showed no interest in her satisfaction. The next time they got together, it happened again. He “didn’t even care,” said Ms. Gadinsky, a health care case manager in New York City. “I don’t think he tried at all.” He fell asleep immediately, leaving her staring at the ceiling. “I was really frustrated,” she said.

And that’s not just an anecdote:

Research involving 600 college students led by Justin R. Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, and researchers at Binghamton University found that women were twice as likely to reach orgasm from intercourse or oral sex in serious relationships as in hookups. The paper was presented at the annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research and at the Annual Convention for Psychological Science this year.

Similarly, a study of 24,000 students at 21 colleges over five years found that about 40 percent of women had an orgasm during their last hookup involving intercourse, while 80 percent of men did.

Naturally the researchers are falling all over themselves coming up with a reason why college hookups–currently promoted as an  empowering way to express your female sexuality–prove not to be what they’re cracked up to be in most cases. That is to say, coming up with any reason except the obvious one: women feel happiest when sex has an emotional component.

Paula England, the NYU sociologist who conducted the 24,000-student survey, says the problem is that female college students aren’t getting enough hookups:

By contrast, roughly three quarters of women in the survey said they had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship.

“We attribute that to practice with a partner, which yields better success at orgasm, and we also think the guys care more in a relationship,” Dr. England said.

***

The lack of guidance is common, Dr. England said. “Women are not feeling very free in these casual contexts to say what they want and need,” she said. Part of the problem, she added, is that women still may be stigmatized for having casual sex.

23-year-old Vanessa Martini says the problem is lousy sex-ed classes in high school:

Ms. Martini said she was never taught how to have good sex, let alone how to ask for what she needs. The education she received in school was aimed at stopping teenagers from having sex at all; there wasn’t much discussion of arousal. Ms. Martini said most cultural representations of sex left out the messy details.

And then there’s always blaming men:

Duvan Giraldo, 26, a software technician in Elmhurst, Queens, said that satisfying a partner “is always my mission,” but added, “I’m not going to try as hard as when I’m with someone I really care about.”

So–what to do about “orgasm inequality”? Rationalize it away with some chick logic!

Some women, confronted with these roadblocks, are redefining casual sex and the physical pleasure that they expect from it. Sex without strings has carnal and emotional benefits that don’t depend on reaching orgasm, they say.

“Something we don’t talk about is why having an orgasm is the main goal or the only goal” of sex, [Indiana University researcher Debra] Herbenick said. “Who are we to say women should be having orgasms?”

And sure enough, where there’s chick logic, there are chicks thinking chick-logically:

For Kim Huynh, a 29-year-old filmmaker in San Francisco, sacrificing a reliable orgasm for sex without the burden of commitment was a conscious decision. After a couple of relationships in college, Ms. Huynh spent about five years without a serious boyfriend and many on-again, off-again flings.

“As far as my ability to climax consistently, that’s something I was able to have in my monogamous relationships that I never had” in less committed circumstances, she said.

Yet mediocre sex was a small price to pay “for the freedom to be able to enjoy it all.” The physical aspect of a tryst with a relative stranger was gratifying, she said, even if her chances of reaching orgasm were limited. When her partner’s performance was lackluster, she still took pride in her own sexual prowess.

“To sort of know yourself to be sort of skilled in a way or to be able to see someone else’s pleasure that was your own doing, I think there’s definitely something very empowering about that,” she said.

Riiiight.

h/t: Susan Walsh

Posted by Charlotte Allen

One Comment
  1. Thanks for the link, Charlotte!

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