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A Lesson from Gay Men

A Lesson from Gay Men 

This has got to change: straight women report fewer orgasms per sexual encounter than any other group — straight men, homosexual or bi men, and gay or bisexual women. This is according to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2017. Following the release of this provocative study, hundreds of articles appeared in the mainstream press to explain this so-called orgasm gap.

Some of the advice that floated around the internet in the wake of this study boiled down to the suggestion that in heterosexual relationships, a man should delay his orgasm until the woman has hers. “She comes first!” they declared. Let’s unpack that. There’s an overlooked implication in there that as soon as a man comes, sex is over.   

Granted, men have a much stronger refractory period than women do, and some men are very nearly incapacitated by oxytocin post-orgasm.

We’ve all seen the scenes in movies where the men roll over and immediately go to sleep after orgasming, the woman staring at the ceiling.  Usually she meets her true love in the next scene, right?  But I have to ask, if this is just what women have to put up with from men because of the way they are wired (so you better get yours first), what do gay men do?

You’ve got 2 men having sex and one has an orgasm and falls dead asleep… the other does what?

Take a closer look at the orgasm gap from the study. It details how often people have an orgasm in a typical sexual encounter, according to survey questions: heterosexual men, 95%, gay men, 89%; bisexual men 88%; lesbian women, 86%; and  bisexual women, 66% and heterosexual women at the bottom at 65%.

Notice that homosexual men are having fewer orgasms when they are having sex with men (89%), than heterosexual men are having with women (95%). Why would that be?  

I wonder if there is a difference in the way homosexual men treat the refractory period. Presumably gay men also confront the issue of desiring an orgasm after their partner has reached climax and fallen asleep.

I conducted an informal survey among homosexual men on Reddit and GayForum and got a few very interesting responses. Here is a representative comment:  “The refractory period is definitely a real thing and the impact is stronger in some men than others. I’m definitely a roll over and fall asleep immediately type. I’d say it’s extremely common for gay men to be responsible for their own orgasms. It’s really common for one person to come and then the other either not come or finish themselves off. In a relationship, it’s pretty common to sort of trade off who that is.”

It may be that in sex between homosexual men it is common for one partner to masturbate themselves to orgasm after the other has reached climax, or tacitly agreed to forego orgasm this time, knowing it will be their turn next time.

Another man stated: “Usually I can go more than once, but my husband goes down hard after finishing. So we usually deal with me first, then him, and if I’m still up for it, I can go again with minimal help from him.” 

Consider that “go again with minimal help from him” — it sounds like the writer is masturbating and his partner is aiding with some form of auxiliary stimulation. This sounds like excellent advice to give to a woman who is unsatisfied after intercourse with a man who is then unable to continue stimulation: give yourself an orgasm while the man watches or assists.  

Or after the woman orgasms, if she feels like snuggling down and enjoying the afterglow, maybe she should could tell the guy, catch you next time, bro.                      

Sooo many articles focus on encouraging women to be more communicative to a partner about how he can “give” her an orgasm (that’s the vernacular — ugh!), and encouraging men to do more of the activities that lead to orgasms for women (which is great advice).

How about let’s encourage women be more like homosexual men —  take responsibility for our own pleasure, and stimulate ourselves to orgasm if a man has orgasmed and is relatively incapacitated or newly uninterested.  

Perhaps in the process, men would learn what satisfies women through observation, become more accepting of sexually-empowered women, realize the benefits of taking turns, and potentially even become more highly-motivated to assist.  Let’s bring our own numbers up, ladies, and close that orgasm gap!

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Orgasm Ambiguity: Was That the Big One?

Ambiguous Orgasms 

Orgasm is a very obvious event for most people with penises. At the moment of orgasm, stuff shoots out of their body. Penis-owners don’t have to wonder if that was an orgasm or not, or where it originated.  It just IS, indubitably, as conspicuous as a neon sign over the bed: “You came!”

Clits are more circumspect, their orgasms more assorted. There’s an ambiguity in the orgasms of a clit. Ask women to describe their orgasm and the answers are a menu of sensation, as varied as ice cream flavors. Witness a handful of women having orgasms and you’ll wonder how they can all be called the same thing. Some women get very still, with no more than the ripple of a shudder through their body.  Some women make no noise, some moan, some whimper, some scream. Some thrash about, some barely move, some practically convulse. It may last a moment, or minutes. Some women immediately need to have all stimulation stop… some woman roll right into the next wave of feeling and another climax. The researchers list the symptoms: elevated heart rate, flushed faced, a series of rhythmic contractions in the vagina, the uterus and the pelvic floor muscles. But they also say that not all women show all these signs all the time, and even in one individual it can differ from one to the next.  Women say their individual orgasms can be very different – some big, some small, some they aren’t even sure if it was one or not.

And so one really has to wonder how there can be such an emphasis on this one monolithic thing An Orgasm as if it is undeniably there or not there, like a pregnancy.  Where one can’t be sort of pregnant, one can certainly have a “sort of” orgasm.

But you’d never know that from the way people talk about it. Browse around the internet for advice on having an orgasm and it is invariably framed as black/white, yes/no. Have you had one or not? Did you have one or not?

For any woman who questions her subjective experience, the ubiquitous answer is “if you have to ask, then you probably haven’t.” I mean to dismantle this harmful piece of folk wisdom.  It’s just not true that if you doubt whether you are having an orgasm, then you must not be.

There are women who think they aren’t orgasming, and they are. There are women who aren’t sure that the sexual response they are having qualifies as orgasmic, and assume they, therefore, aren’t orgasming, because they’ve been told so many time – “oh, you’ll know!”

There are women that think so much about whether they are going to finally, this time, have an orgasm, that they don’t notice the climax they have.  There are women who judge and doubt and hold their climax up to inspection and find them wanting. I did that to my climaxes for a lot of years, until I finally began to see my see my orgasm, acknowledge it, love it for what it was and accept it, nourish it with awareness and help it grow into a robust orgasmic response. 

If you feel like your orgasm is ambiguous, start by thinking about your “pleasure peak.” Were there moments in the experience that you would call a pleasure peak? Just start noticing those and appreciating them, and let go of needing the label for a little while.

Let’s stop feeling inadequate if our climax doesn’t wake the neighbors, merge us with the universe, or turn us into a butterfly.