Newsflash: Most Women Probably Won’t Orgasm From A One-Night Stand And That’s Ok

One-night stands can be glorious, adventure-filled examples of instant wish-fulfillment, but very few women look drunkenly at the man they’re snogging and think ‘I’m only taking you home if you can guarantee me an orgasm.’

Jan 23, 2013 at 4:26pm | Leave a comment

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It is highly unlikely that women will orgasm from a one-night stand. This is true not only because I know it to be so, but also because science shows it to be the case.

Not only do women generally orgasm less than men, creating what is known as ‘the orgasm gap’, but this gap is widened when women have sex outside of a relationship.

A recent study conducted by Stanford and Indiana University* split sexual encounters into four different contexts: a first encounter, one to two previous encounters, three or more previous encounters and a relationship.

In all of these, ‘the orgasm gap’ sees women coming less than men - yet the statistics are much worse for one night stands than for women having sex in relationships.

I’m not convinced that women have sex in the same way as men – or for the same reasons, and this persistent focus on orgasm seems to me to be a very narrow-minded, myopic way of looking at sex.

There are several things I really hate to hear during sex.

1) "How does that feel?" - No matter how pleasurable the experience, it is instantly makes me feel as though I’m having sex with a sleazy, mustachioed Kinsey-type statistician.

2) "You like that, don’t you?" – This makes me want to stand up affrontedly and explain that I am perfectly capable of deciding on my own likes and dislikes.

3) "Are you going to come?" - Because sex isn’t necessarily a destination-led activity and it certainly isn’t a race. Even the semantics of it annoy me - "are you going to come?" as if there is a party to which everyone else has been invited, and I’m late, and possibly inappropriately dressed. In French, the word for orgasm is ‘jouir’- which means to play, to enjoy, to climax.

Women have sex for all sorts of reasons. Because it feels great, because it’s a highly effective way to re-affirm attractiveness, because it’s fun and exciting, and because we just really want the mixture of comfort and thrill that comes from having the feel of someone else’s weight and skin against ours.

Very few women look drunkenly at the man they’re snogging, think, "I’m only taking you home if you can guarantee me an orgasm." Probably. I imagine it’s more like, "You seem nice, I like kissing you - let’s see what happens next."

And often one-night stands are glorious, adventure-filled examples of instant wish-fulfillment. Released from the pressure of being a ‘potential girlfriend’, it’s a great opportunity to have what my flatmate terms ‘really filthy sex’. (I have asked her several times to explain what she means by this, throwing out "anal?" and "pretending you are a hooker?" at random moments during the day, but so far have gotten nowhere. I’m sorry, and will of course be re-doubling my efforts moving forward).

So, assuming the other half of the one-night stand is pulling their weight (and women are much more likely to make sure they do this with a sexual partner they are not going to see again, ‘politeness’ being, in fact, one of the greatest enemies of women’s sexual enjoyment), does it really matter if we don’t orgasm?

The recent academic obsession with women’s orgasms seems like it could only be a good thing - it acknowledges that our sexual enjoyment is a valid and important part of sexual encounters; that women are more than simply vessels to be ‘masturbated into’, as one of the participants in the recent Stanford and Indiana study reported.

Yet I can’t help feeling that all we have done with this perpetual quest for the female orgasm, is put even more pressure on women. Now, not only are you supposed to be having exciting, interesting, spontaneous sex (thanks Cosmo, for helping me realise that the intimate, lazy, Sunday-hangover sex I was enjoying marks me as old and boring), you are also supposed to be experiencing intense, consistent vaginal orgasms.

I can’t help but feel that whilst ostensibly looking to improve women’s sex lives, we have simply turned them into yet another area where women feel they may not be measuring up.

A great deal of life is a competition, and we do ourselves no favours by pretending it isn’t. But surely, having moved to a place where women feel comfortable and shame-free about having one-night stands, where we accept that women can find sexual fulfillment and pleasure outside of a committed relationship, we can also begin to view sex as a mutually enjoyable, personal event, rather than a pressure-filled race to orgasm?

After all, if women only had sex when they were guaranteed an orgasm, we would have died out as a race long ago. And I for one, am keen to continue having pressure-free sex - if only to find out what this ‘really filthy sex’ my flatmate keeps talking about is.

*Study to be published later this year by W.W. Norton in the book Families as They Really Are*