A dimly lit room, bondage wheels, wooden crosses, whips, leather benches, chains and studded outfits.
A girl tied to the leather bench. It’s clear that she works here. You can tell by her outfit, the discarded eight-inch heels. There is an older man, fogging glasses. Bending over her.
This girl, who is working at a BDSM dungeon, has never had an orgasm before.
The same woman who dresses up in leather, studs, plastic heels, eye liner and streams of mascara. The same woman who plays the dom, or the submissive, who is spanked with a paddle and penetrated with dildos.
She has never had an orgasm.
This evening, in this dimly lit room, with the old man her coworkers call “Turtle Robert”, is the first time she reaches climax.
She is 24.
“Growing up, my mom never spoke to me about my body or sexuality—she even hid her tampons from me,” she wrote in Bust Magazine. “I tried masturbating a few times, but I wasn’t even sure if I could have an orgasm, so when it didn’t feel good right away, I gave up.”
She is not alone. There are some glaring, hugely dissatisfying obstacles in the way of women and orgasms.
A survey of 2,300 women by Cosmopolitan found only 57% of women orgasm during sex in heterosexual relationships. For lesbians, it’s slightly better at around 75%.
Why is the female orgasms so elusive?
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There’s the mechanics. For example, not enough clitoral stimulation (38% of participants), or not the right kind of clitoral stimulation (35%).
There’s the mental side of it, with 50% of participants reporting they would almost reach climax, but often couldn’t find the release.
There is also, as the BDSM dungeon worker shows, the stigma. The lack of knowledge, education, understanding around women’s pleasure – even in people working in the sex industry.
“The men I’d dated in the small punk town where I came of age before moving to New York never seemed very interested in helping me achieve an orgasm,” she wrote.