Men still orgasm more often than women despite strides in relationship equality

  • Men orgasm 85% of the time they have sex, compared to women who orgasm 63% of the time, on average.
  • This "orgasm gap" is one of the most prevalent examples of inequality between men and women today, according to Katherine Rowland, the author of "The Pleasure Gap."
  • Rowland said that applying concepts of relationship equality to sex could actually be doing a disservice to women's sex lives.
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Despite strides in gender equality over the decades, women still deal with inequality in their workplaces, relationships, and even their sex lives.

In a 2014 survey of 3,000 men and women from the Journal of Sexual Medicine, men orgasmed 85% of the time they had sex, compared to women who orgasmed 63% of the time, on average.

In her book "The Pleasure Gap," author Katherine Rowland explored that reasons why a so-called "orgasm gap" exists between men and women and how that gap could be closed. Rowland drew on five years of interviews she did with women about their sex lives, as well as recent sexual health research.

Although it's difficult to pinpoint what led to differences in sexual satisfaction between heterosexual men and women, Rowland suggested that stereotypes about women's emotional needs play a role.

Contrary to popular belief, women don't need emotional connection to have great sex

An equitable relationship between a man and a woman doesn't always translate into women's cravings for feeling dominated, overwhelmed, and in the moment during sex.
Crystal Cox/Business Insider

Stereotypes often suggest that heterosexual women, unlike heterosexual men, need emotional connection with their sexual partner in order to want and enjoy sex.

According to that line of thinking, a woman in a healthy and happy relationship or marriage should be having fulfilling sex, but Rowland says that isn't always the case.

After speaking with sex researchers, Rowland said that it appeared "women's sexual desire was undercut by familiarity, the institutionalization of the relationship, and desexualized roles," and that a good romantic relationship doesn't always equate to good sex.

That's because an equitable relationship between a man and a woman doesn't always translate into women's cravings for feeling dominated, overwhelmed, and in the moment during sex.

Women often want sex that makes them forget everything else

According to Marta Meana, a psychologist Rowland interviewed who studies sex and relationships, women's sexual  desire often stems from a place of feeling completely present in that moment.

Meana argued that she'd see less happily married women in her research complaining about low sexual desire if that were the case, but it isn't because her research suggests that the comfort and emotional closeness a marriage provides leads to "efficient but boring sex."

Although love and respect are important for a healthy marriage, women often find passion the most important aspect of good sex, according to Meana. She said the women she's interviewed for her research generally said they wanted sex to feel so passionate they couldn't focus on anything else, like work, household duties, or family.

For that reason, Rowland said it's difficult to apply standards of gender equality that exist in modern marriage and relationships to modern sex.

"Equality might be a noble social goal, but perhaps human sexuality is not politically correct," Rowland wrote.

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