My clitoris is currently on a break.
In the last seven days, it’s been fondled more times than a baby lamb at a petting zoo. If my clitoris were an iPhone, right now it’d be in planned obsolescence mode.
It’s an inevitable occupational hazard, when your job involves bounteous amounts of masturbation.
I’m not a sex worker per say, but I do use a lot of sex toys, and write about my experiences in exchange for money. I guess you could call me a ‘sexfluencer’ – think: Instagram Influencer, but, like, with dildos. Where most top beauty and fashion bloggers get paid serious cash in exchange for plugging a new lipstick or jumpsuit, I make a very comfortable living talking about sex toys on my feed.
And, contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t get into doing this because I’m a nympho. Like most women, I grew up fairly detached from my sexuality. I believed sex was a kind of currency women exchanged with men in return for commitment, and not something to be spoken about.
My vagina was a strange, foreign object I never dared look at, and masturbation felt immoral, like a secret betrayal of my relationship. As such, my solo orgasms were routinely followed by shame and self-flagellation.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given we still culturally regard vaginas as dirty, and female masturbation as taboo. In a 2017 survey published in PLOS One, one in five women reported having never masturbated. Like, literally ever, in their lifetime. It might also explain why a large number of us also don’t even enjoy sex.
Most research estimates just 65 percent of women routinely orgasm during sex, as opposed to 95 percent of men. That’s a bigger inequity than the gender pay gap. But no one’s talking about it.
“What’s wrong with me?” a female follower asked me recently, in a DM.
“I can’t orgasm when I have sex with my boyfriend. I’m only 21. What’s wrong with me?”
I get these questions daily via my Instagram. They’re almost always from women, and they almost always include some form of “Am I broken?”.
When I explained to aforementioned follower that, at the ripe old age of 21, it was highly unlikely she had any issues with her libido, and more likely her boyfriend wasn’t allowing her enough time to orgasm – given the fact most women take at least 20 minutes to climax during sex – she responded: “I’m crying tears of relief. I had no idea it was normal to need longer”.
I wondered how long this young woman had been having unsatisfying, dutiful sex with her boyfriend, convinced her lack of enjoyment was some biological failing.
That’s the thing about female sexual pleasure – we don’t learn anything about it in school. While we’re taught about male erections and ejaculation in sex ed, we tend to focus on female menstruation, and pregnancy prevention.
And when young women were interviewed in one of the largest studies ever conducted on sexual behaviour, their answers reflected this disconnect. Startlingly, female respondents reported experiencing pain in their sexual encounters 30 percent of the time.