Jenny Block is the writer of the Observer's sex column, Pillow Talk. She has published three books on the topic, The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm and Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage.
I get so many emails from women who are frustrated in the bedroom. They aren’t getting off and they aren’t sure how to talk to the men in their lives about how to fix it without bruising their egos. And many of them are faking orgasm, leaving their partners in a tough spot. The men they are with think they are doing all the right things. And why wouldn’t they?
Heterosexual sex is a cruel game in some ways. The very act that men dig can leave women far less than satisfied. Men's and women’s bodies work very differently, and as much as we are surrounded by sex, we rarely talk about it, really talk about it, the way we need to. So, in the name of making things easier for both camps, here are the seven things women wish men knew about sex.
1. The clit. The clit. The clit.
No matter what you read or what you see in porn, when it comes to orgasms and women, the clitoris is the queen bee. It’s vital that men with female partners know where the clit is, what comprises the clit and how to interact with it. What you see from the outside is just the external bud. The structure also includes two long legs that extend inside the vagina. It is located just above the vaginal opening. It likes to be treated gently at first and generally prefers to be lubricated when played with. And – most important of all – all clits and their owners like to be attended to differently. So be open to her particular needs and desires. The clit is the only human organ created solely for pleasure. So let it do its one job by treating it right.
2. Intercourse is a side dish.
Too many people define sex as inserting a penis into a vagina. That is one sex act. It is not sex. If it was, that would mean that a lesbian like me is not having sex – and, believe me, I’m having sex. Sex is a whole menu of activities that are focused on pleasure. It can involve all sorts of body parts doing all sorts of things with and to other body parts. It can involve toys. It can be done alone. It can be done in a group. It can end in orgasm. It may not end in orgasm. Human bodies have so many erogenous zones, it’s a shame to focus on so few and on one act alone. Sex is so much bigger than intercourse. This is not an experience you want to put meaningless limits on.
3. There is no such thing as a vaginal orgasm.
The vagina is the canal which leads to the cervix. Babies are birthed from it. It has so few nerve endings, surgery can be done on it without anesthesia. The clitoris is home to 8,000 nerve endings. Intercourse can stimulate the long clitoral legs and lead to orgasm. But the vagina itself does not orgasm. It is neither designed for nor capable of that. Women need men to know that they are not deficient or holding out on you. It’s just the way our bodies work.
4. Very few women come from vaginal penetration alone.
Not only do our vaginas not orgasm, the act of putting a penis, or anything else for that matter, inside a vagina is not likely to bring about orgasm no matter how long one bangs away. Yes, some women do say they come from vaginal penetration alone. Some have clitorises that are very close to their vaginal openings. Some believe it’s penetration alone that is doing the trick, but in reality it's not. The clitoris is responsible for orgasm and for the majority of women vaginal penetration alone does not pay it enough attention to bring one about.
5. Male orgasm does not signal the end of sex.
Too often when he comes, it’s game over. And too many people think that is A-OK. It isn’t. Male orgasm signals only one thing: male orgasm. It means he came and will need some time to get hard again. But that has zero to do with the sex timeline. Whether he comes in the first second, 10 minutes, or whatever, the party is over when all parties involved say it’s over.
Sex should be pleasure oriented, not goal oriented. When everyone involved is satisfied, that signals the end of all goings on. When male orgasm signals the end of sex, the implication is that his pleasure is number one. Unless there is some specific agreement, perhaps a power play or other sexual game at work, everyone’s pleasure must be of equal value and importance.
6. Honest body love is welcome.
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We love to hear how much you love our bodies. So, please, tell us how much you love our skin and our curves and the way we move. But we’re not stupid. So, please, keep it real and don’t use porn or rom coms or erotica to fuel your language. We want to hear what you actually love about our actual bodies.
7. Most women are happy to help.
Hopefully, every woman knows how her equipment works and is happy to share that information. Women have the right and the responsibility to masturbate, know their bodies and share that information with their partner(s). So ask her. Ask her to show you, to tell you, to direct you when things are going in the right direction and when they’re not.
It can take some encouraging and it might be hard for some women to share because so many women have been shamed and otherwise discouraged to tell the truth about their bodies and about sex. But take the time to ask and support her sharing and you will be well on your way to being the rock star in bed that all of us want to be.