Let’s close the pleasure gap by discarding our current cultural script for sex.
When I was writing Becoming Cliterate, I loved my first draft of the chapter where I help readers apply all they’ve learned in the prior chapters to sex with a partner. But, my brilliant editor told me the entire chapter needed to be re-written, as it had to be “the climax of the book.” She said that this chapter needed to give women specific directions for having orgasmic sex. Initially, I rallied against her directive, pointing out that I couldn’t give “Do this and you’re sure to orgasm!” advice (as many articles do), because that went against one of the main arguments of the book—specifically that:
While about 95 percent of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, either alone or paired with penetration, just what type of stimulation each woman needs is unique, as every woman’s genital nerves are positioned a bit differently;
It’s thus important to get to know how your genital nerves are positioned, by (as I instruct in one of the chapters) “taking matters into your own hands”;
It’s then critical (as I instruct in another chapter) to tell a partner what type of stimulation you need, using great sexual communication.
The problem I was facing, then, was telling readers in an exciting manner (pun intended), the various ways to apply these principles to having sex with a partner. My editor told me I was going to have to “find a way to stay true to your argument, and write a better chapter.” I felt stuck—and I cried a lot.
But, then, through the tears (which are, despite what culture tells you, healthy and can, as in my case, actually help you work through a problem), a solution emerged. I recalled that the academic literature discusses what is termed the “standard cultural script” for heterosexual sex: foreplay (i.e., just enough to get her ready for intercourse); intercourse during which the man orgasms (and many women fake); and “sex” over. I thought, “Aha! I will create new scripts to replace this standard cultural script!”
Continuing this script metaphor, I created plays named after my female readers’ orgasms. The four female-orgasm centered plays are:
You Come First
You Come Second
Only You Come
You Come Together
All four plays have two Acts. Act I is the same for all plays: “Fooling Around for 20 Minutes.” It is based on research showing that this is the average amount of time a woman needs to get warmed up and aroused before her genitals should be touched. (Guess what research shows the average amount of time young adult heterosexual couples are actually spending on this Act? 5 minutes!).
Act II is where the plays diverge—and they pertain to what you and your partner do between your and his/her legs. Each play has several versions of Act II scripts to choose from, making the plays inclusive of heterosexual sex and lesbian sex, as well as “kinky” sex and “vanilla sex.”
For example, in heterosexual sex, the “You Come First” play could be oral sex during which the woman orgasms followed by intercourse during which the man orgasms. For lesbian or heterosexual sex, this play could be taking turns manually or orally stimulating each other to orgasm.
Continuing the examples, in heterosexual sex, the “You Come Second” play could be enough foreplay to make sure the woman is sufficiently aroused for intercourse to occur without pain or discomfort (sex should never be painful), intercourse during which he orgasms, and then him using a vibrator to bring her to orgasm. For heterosexual or lesbian sex, the script could again be taking turns manually or orally stimulating each other to orgasm.
What about the “Only You Come?” play? If that strikes you as weird, it’s helpful to recall this is what is often happening in heterosexual encounters, especially casual ones, currently. This play was best described by a reader of one of my Psychology Today blogs, in the comment section. He said:
Every man should find some quiet “unselfish” time with his lover and explore her clitoris. Have her lay back and close her eyes, slowly explore and observe. Listen to her breathing, watch her chest rise with each deep breath. Hear her moans and watch her wriggle. I try to do this with my wife every Sunday morning and it is a loving and giving experience that pays huge dividends!!
Of course, for most couples, this won’t be the mainstay of their sex life, but an occasional, bonus activity.
Finally, the “You Come Together” play isn’t about the mythical simultaneous orgasm during intercourse (a myth I debunk in the book, pointing out that it’s hard to be immersed in your own sensations, something that is required for orgasm, and monitoring your partner’s orgasm at the same time). It’s about coming during the same sexual act.
An example is mutual manual stimulation or the infamous “69,” although most women will tell you that it’s just “too much going on.” If intercourse is involved it could entail using an intercourse position that enables you to rub your clitoris against a partner’s body part. Or, it could entail touching yourself with your hand or a vibrator during intercourse, or using “a couple’s vibrator” such as a cock ring with a clitoral vibrator attached, or the Eva, a wearable clitoral vibrator invented by a sex therapist and an engineer to close the orgasm gap.
Closing the orgasm gap, the consistent finding that women are having way fewer orgasms than men in heterosexual sex, is also the goal of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How To Get It. I first wrote this book as a combination of feminist analysis and self-help to bring the clitoris into the limelight and to thus foster orgasm equality. But, after writing this chapter—and peppering it with real quotes of women using these plays—it became a combination of feminist analysis, self-help, and erotica.
I think this chapter is why the narrator of the audio version of the book tweeted that she was turning red narrating. I also think it’s why, much to my delight, a young woman I met at a conference told me that since reading the book she’s been “doing sex differently.” I’m pretty sure she meant that she’s thrown away the standard cultural script, in favor of equal opportunity orgasms. You can too.