This week, I attended the launch of Superdrug’s Naked Academy – a hub for information on sexual wellness, health and pleasure. Amongst the panelists discussing sex at the event, a key conversation point centered around the poor sex education taught in schools.
By the time I became an adult, my only knowledge of sex involved shame. I understood the ‘consequences’ involved (sexual judgment, pregnancy, STIs) but knew little about pleasure and fun. To educate myself, I frequently bought Cosmopolitan for tips on orgasms and sexual positions.
According to the publication Psychological Science, Drs Terri D. Conley and Verena Klein found that the sexual differences between men and women in a practical sense are small, but the way in which we interpret sex based on gender can impact our levels of enjoyment.
Psychological Science highlights how women face double standards (we are judged more highly than men for our number of sexual partners and the way we engage in sex), and we also receive more negative sexual messages (we are more likely to hear about risks than benefits).
Frequently, we’re taught sex is designed and catered for men. They are the more sexual gender who require constant sexual pleasure. Women, meanwhile, are the supporting characters who may occasionally benefit from an orgasm.
Some women grew up in positive environments where sex was treated as a normal act to appreciate. But what about the women who do not feel sexual, do not have peers to confide in and who know nothing other than satisfactory intimacy?
The most sexually satisfied women have usually experienced emotionally and physically enjoyable first sexual encounters. I spent years believing I was not a particularly sexual person because my first intimate partner expected me to enjoy sex in a way that suited him. I had no clue what I was missing out on.
Reasons why you may not enjoy mind-blowing sex
Our sex drives are complicated and multifaceted. Stress, pain, pregnancy and medication can all impact our desire for sex and the pleasure we experience. With that said, most women I have spoken to about this subject have shared how these factors have negatively affected their sex lives:
*Not feeling good about their bodies, and therefore not feeling sexy or sexual.
*A lack of great sexual encounters. People with low self-esteem may end up dating low-quality individuals – those who solely focus on themselves.
*Performance fear – Not performing well and therefore losing the interest of the person they like.
*Overall shame – perhaps early sexual experiences led to name-calling and judgment.
*A lack of knowledge on what turns them on and how to communicate this to a partner.
Because our education on pleasure is so poor, coupled in with the fact that society tells heterosexual women to focus on behaving ‘classy’ as opposed to ‘sexy’, and that women are continually told their bodies are not good enough, it’s no wonder we suffer from an orgasm gap.
Countless studies have identified the orgasm gap between cisgender men and women. As an example, a Canadian sex survey found 86% of men had an orgasm during their recent heterosexual encounter compared to 62% of women.
The sex education on pleasure every woman should know:
There is no such thing as being great in bed
There are ways to spice things up and become a more sexually pleasurable partner (knowing how to communicate, for instance). But sexual partners are almost like holiday destinations. You may frequently travel to Paris and become a connoisseur at knowing the best spots for croissants and views of the Eiffel Tower. On your first holiday to Miami, however, you realise you must relearn what you know about travel because Miami has different preferences.
Consider every new sexual partner as a new person to play and explore with. Do not put pressure on yourself to become a first-class performer who knows exactly how to turn anyone on. What works for one person does not suit another.
We all have the same hang-ups
The curves of our stomachs, the height of our bottoms, the jiggle in our thighs. Whatever your body type or athletic ability, most women have body insecurities. And I should know because as a makeup artist, I met many ‘classically’ beautiful models who complained about at least one part of their figures.
As part of Superdrug’s Naked Academy, we took part in life drawing with Body Love Sketch Club. Six volunteers from the class removed their clothes and posed as we sketched them. (My drawings resembled the stick figures you used to draw and expect your parents to stick on the fridge).
This activity felt incredibly empowering. Seeing all the different body types made me realise how silly it is to spend our lives overthinking whether we’re good enough. Instead, recognise that the person wanting to sleep with you already admires your physical appearance and is not waiting to pick out faults.
Have sex with the lights on, remove your covers and see how good it feels to have your full self on show.
Self-pleasure is a part of healthcare
Masturbation can relieve stress, increase your libido, make you more comfortable with your body, ease menstrual pain, teaches you about pleasure and oh, feels incredibly amazing. There is literally no downside!
I have put together my favourite toys, but you may want to begin first by experimenting with your fingers.
There is no right way to enjoy sex
Some of us love trying different forms of BDSM, some prefer romantic stimulation in the form of massage and gentle touch, while others get turned on by particular fetishes and kinks.
Whenever you want to try something new, start from a place that feels comfortable and then extend from that base. For instance, if you are keen to try role-play, you may want to start by just dressing up in costumes or giving each other new names before completely taking on new identities.
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