Just a super quick post today on why “equality” sometimes misses the boat when it comes to sexual pleasure.
I use Tuesdays either to take a day off from writing the blog, or to share something super quick that’s on my mind and I just want to write it out.
I’m hoping this will be super quick–but we’ll see!
Basically, here’s the issue: I’ve had some pushback on different social media platforms and in emails/reviews lately that what we’re calling for in The Great Sex Rescue isn’t fair and isn’t biblical.
Why? Here’s the general argument:
The Bible tells us that we’re EACH supposed to care about the other person. And yet in The Great Sex Rescue Sheila and the other authors make everything the man’s fault. They say he has to pay attention to her in a way that she doesn’t have to pay attention to him. They say that if she doesn’t reach orgasm it’s his fault. It’s always his fault! And yet the Bible says we’re each responsible, and we each should be giving to one another. This book isn’t balanced.
All right, let’s do some basic definitions here.
We can have:
- Equality of effort
- Equality of outcome
Sometimes those things may coincide, but often they don’t.
Here’s my question: Which one are we prioritizing? Equality of effort, or equality of outcome?
In the case of sexual pleasure, equality of outcome would mean that both people experience pleasure and reach orgasm.
To me, that’s the goal. Both of us are capable of sexual pleasure; both of us were created with a sexual drive; women were created with no refractory period and with a body part that is only for sexual pleasure. So the aim should be that both reach orgasm.
Now, here’s the tricky bit:
Equality of effort usually means that equality of outcome will not be achieved.
Because the amount of effort that it takes for him to reach orgasm will usually not be enough for her to reach orgasm.
And that’s the way our bodies were created.
That’s why we have a 47 point orgasm gap, where 95% of men almost always/always reach orgasm, compared with just 48% of women. When men go into a sexual encounter they’re pretty much guaranteed an orgasm. When women go into a sexual encounter, they’re not.
Men’s bodies were made so that the act of intercourse alone is usually enough to bring on orgasm; women’s bodies were created so that only a minority of women regularly reach orgasm like that. Most need a lot of foreplay first, or they find other routes to orgasm more reliable.
It’s like this: men start off with an orgasm advantage, and women start off with an orgasm disadvantage.
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If we want equality of outcome, then, it means that men are going to have to put in more effort. That’s just the way it works.
That’s not me being sexist. That’s not me putting more of a burden on men. That’s not me letting women off the hook. That’s just the way it works.
Yes, women still need to communicate what they want. Yes, women still need to slow down and allow themselves to enjoy it. Yes, women still need to deal with any trauma in their pasts. Yes, women still need to deal with any negative messaging about sex that they have heard throughout their lives (and The Great Sex Rescue will help with that immensely!).
But for her to reach orgasm, he’s going to have to put in major effort.
One of the problems I had with Tim Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage revolved around this concept. He writes about how sex was stressful as they were aiming for orgasm, and often they’d both end up disappointed. So instead, they both decided to just focus on what they could give, rather than what they could get.
But as I’ve said before, if they each focus on what they can give, he is still pretty much guaranteed an orgasm, while she is not. In order to orgasm, she actually has to focus on what she can get. She has to practice mindfulness and focus on her own pleasure. That’s why researchers have found that for her to receive pleasure, one of the most reliable indicators is that they’re both focused on her.
It is not unfair to ask the person with the advantage to put in more effort.
Does that sound unfair? It might. But again–what’s the aim? Is it equality of effort, or equality of outcome?
If we focus on equality of effort, we can say that we’re each called to be selfless, and that includes women. So if women are selfless and they don’t orgasm, that’s okay, because that’s biblical.
Is that really okay?
Right now men can put in almost no effort and still orgasm, and women are being told, “he needs this. Don’t deprive him.” My message instead is, “Sex was meant for both of you. It’s mutual, intimate, and pleasurable for both. So do what you can to make sure it’s a passionate experience for both of you!”
That may mean he has some work to do. But I’m not the one who put the clitoris where it is. So perhaps the issue isn’t with me, but with God.
What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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