Men, we should hang our heads in shame. Given that we spend a good deal of our waking time thinking about sex, talking about sex and trying to get people to do sex with us, it's pretty embarrassing how bad we actually are at it.
You could be forgiven for thinking that in the hookup age, where we're all bumbling around Tinder and only have to swipe right for some casual no-strings nookie, we'd be getting a bit better at it.
But no, it seems we have about the same level of sexual skills as a 14-year-old heading off to boarding school on the train in 1923.
"Good grief, Simpkins, everyone knows a lady will faint and have a baby if you look at her bottom. Nanny told me!"
Lost without a map
See, there's an orgasm gap out there in loveland, and it's all our fault.
A huge study of American adults shows that in heterosexual encounters, a woman will only have one orgasm for every three a man enjoys, and unfortunately, we're not talking about just one night. A slew of other studies concur this dismal statistic.
Now, to be clear, the clitoris isn't just the little nub at the top of her lady parts. It's an extraordinary organ that runs deep into her body and has only one purpose – her pleasure. It has around 8000 nerve endings to communicate sensation. Your penis has only 4000. A 3D image of the clitoris looks like something elegant designed by Philippe Starck.
Women who sleep with women orgasm pretty much on par with men and women who don't orgasm from penetrative sex have no trouble climaxing when they masturbate. (And it takes her about the same time as you – four minutes).
Which brings us to the dark heart of the issue – the problem is us, and our shocking lack of knowledge and technique.
Knowledge and technique is something smart men apply to every area of their lives, so why not the boudoir?
A one-sided afair
Poor old casual sex guy is the worst in bed. The orgasm gap shrinks as a woman gets to know her partner better and, for a woman in a relationship, the orgasm gap allegedly shrinks by half.
There's a number of factors working together to create the gap. Freud is partly responsible. His thinking was that orgasm through penetrative sex was the best and most "mature", and it eventually slipped into science as fact. It's not. Add to that we still value men's sexual pleasure over women's. He is "sexual", she is "sexy". Women still don't seem to feel comfortable asking for equal sexual pleasure. "I think I felt kind of guilty, almost, like I was kind of subjecting guys to something they didn't want to do and I felt bad about that," said one survey subject.
"The guy kind of expects to get off," said another, "while the girl doesn't expect anything."
The main contributing factor is we see penetrative sex as "real" sex, the end-game. Clitoral stimulation is relegated to the murky territory of "foreplay".
What's ridiculous is men all want to be seen as sex gods. And there's a little button we can push that will magically turn us into one but instead we just go "yeah … nah."
The more you know
If I had a son, we'd totally have clitoris lessons. I'd say "Mate, it's not confusing or difficult or weird. If it came with instructions, it would simply say, 'Rub This.' That's it."
I'd advise him to make sure she was liking what he was doing by … asking her (crazy, hey?). If she has any suggestions, feel free to follow them.
We follow our American cousins in many things but surely this is one area where Australian men need to stand up and be counted. Do we really want our delightful female partners to be missing out?
In my sadly very limited experience, the sexiest thing a man will ever encounter in his life is a highly aroused woman who wants him to keep doing what he's doing. There should be more of it.
No longer should we put up with this outrageous inequity. We should take to the streets in our thousands, campaigning for the rights of women everywhere to have as many orgasms as possible. I'm sure no-one would have a problem with that and it would also make the news more interesting.
It's time to do a better job. It's time to learn a little more about our partners. It's time to stop being lazy. It's time to close the #orgasmgap.
With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is a consultant creative director and communications specialist, currently writing a book on "man stuff" for publisher New Holland. He is a regular commentator on the lives and style of Australian men.
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