Did you cum? How women are most affected from sex ed failures

Orgasm Candid Orange

Anonymous

The terms woman/women and female are used in this article to discuss orgasms among people with vaginas. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all those with vaginas are women. The discussion around orgasms must be inclusive and sensitive to people whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Sex education has systematically failed young women for generations by oppressing the female orgasm from sex education, leaving them with inaccurate representations of the reality of sex.

There is something substantially wrong with the way students are taught sex education. Where is the information about female orgasms? Why is this never mentioned? Sex education neglecting the female orgasm has bred generations of young women growing up to believe that they are ‘broken’. It thwarts their understanding of sex due to the only frame of reference being mainstream media which is unequivocally inaccurate.

The development of sex education

In the last five years, there have been landmark developments in the sex education curriculum, mainly the statutory requirement of the new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) implemented by the government in 2017. It was recently defined in 2019 when the UK Parliament passed new regulations and guidance meaning that, as of September 2020, RSE is now compulsory in all English secondary schools and relationships education is compulsory in all primary schools.

Primary school children are now taught about the dangers of online relationships, with secondary children learning about same sex relationships and families, contraception, HIV and AIDS and other STDs, mental health, abortion, sexuality, gender identity and much more. The newly reformed sex education is widely different to the sex education I received, which consisted of the scientific basis of how an egg is fertilised, puberty, and how to deal with ‘womanly emotions’ whilst the boys learned about masturbation.

However, there are still fundamental issues with the RSE, being that, although the subject is now compulsory, the content of the subject is not. This gives way for academies and free schools to regulate their curriculum; decisions about the content will therefore be left up to individual schools to decide. Specifically, in the case of faith schools, the subject will be delivered in line with the tenets of their faith ethos and determine for themselves whether they consider certain topics (same-sex relationships, for example) to be ‘appropriate’.

Although these developments are certainly positive, there is still something missing: the female orgasm. The male orgasm is covered in the early stages of sex education and is certainly covered in the scientific explanation of fertility and sex, but the female orgasm is never mentioned. Sex is still presented as a biological reaction, where male ejaculation is essential for reproduction, whereas the female orgasm is not, so it is not deemed ‘useful’ to teach. Even though it is a biological natural response, just as male ejaculation is. Women need to learn about what a female orgasm is, the different types and the reality of achieving one, which for me, wasn’t until my late 20s.

The historical oppression of the female orgasm

According to sexology researcher, Elizbeth A Floyd, in The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution, the female orgasm has been historically oppressed in evolutionary, scientific research because the male orgasm has a clear, adaptive purpose, necessary for reproduction, whereas the female orgasm remains more elusive.

Lloyd provides a potential explanation for the dismissal of the female orgasm. She argues that the majority of the scientific understanding about sex and evolution was discovered by Victorian men, based on their perception of scientific research in sex and evolution being shaped by the opinions and ideas of a masculine dominated society which historically oppressed, dismissed and restricted women. That’s right, Darwin was actually a misogynist. 

Therefore, women were not to be seen as engaging in sexual intercourse for enjoyment, satisfaction or for their own purpose; according to Sara Pascoe, women were seen as a preliminary function in reproduction for the purpose of male superiority only. These ideas are still somewhat perpetuated by dismissal of the female orgasm in teaching and public prudery around the subject; women are still to some extent seen as reproductive mechanisms.

How are women discovering the world of orgasms?

Because young boys learn about masturbation and ejaculation from a young age, the topic has been normalised amongst them. They are able to engage freely with one and other about the topic so that they could explore and develop their understanding of a masculinity rooted in their own libido. The same educational explorations were not available for women. For me personally, there was no mention of the female orgasms at all which was damaging in many ways: it gave women an inaccurate idea of what sex is supposed to be; and it led girls to gain their understanding from media, which essentially has led many girls and women to believe that they are ‘broken’ as their sexual experience has not mirrored these images in the slightest.

Around the time I was 14, 50 Shades of Grey was the craze. Every woman by the pool on holiday was reading it and would ask each other which chapter they were on and comment “ooo that Mr Grey, what a man.” I read this book. As a young developing woman, instantaneously, this book implemented in my mind that ‘good sex’ equated to kinkiness. It also left an idea in my mind that sex was for the benefit on the man, seeing as Anastasia completely gave herself to Mr Grey, did things she was not willing to do, and this was somehow ‘desirable’.

Other TV shows around the time of sexual exploration were Skins, Gossip Girl and other teen shows that showed young girls, like myself, having mind blowing orgasms when they were losing their virginity or in the early stages of their sexual journey. Now, we’re seeing Bridgerton share this idea of sensational orgasms from the get-go of your sexual experience. Personally, the blatant misconception that the series is feeding their readers enraged me as it couldn’t be more inaccurate. I don’t have a single friend who had an orgasm before the age of 20.

Given that it could take years for a woman to have an orgasm, I’m not so convinced with these representations. For plenty of women, it takes time and a deep understanding of one’s body to be able to fully understand how your body will orgasm. There are also many different kinds of orgasm, all requiring different methods needed to achieve them – so, given not only the lack of education about orgasms and the difficulty that can crop up achieving one, how am I supposed to watch and read about this mind-blowing sex without being at least partially sceptical?

This really damaged my perceptions of sex as a young woman. I wasn’t having the same experiences as everyone else. Was I broken? Why couldn’t I orgasm like everyone else could? Maybe I couldn’t orgasm and would never be able to do it. I had long term boyfriends and regular sex and I still couldn’t do it. It didn’t happen until my most recent boyfriend who actively spent a lot of time helping me achieve this, and when I understood how I could achieve it, it became easy for me to do so from there on.

All women are different, however, and this journey of discovery may not be the case for some women. But it is the case for many, with studies showing that it is communication and openness that can determine how often a woman has an orgasm during penetrative sex. This is precisely what girls need to be told. It may not be easy, it may take time and it probably will only happen with someone they are comfortable with.

Why boys should be taught about the female orgasm

It is not only important for young women to understand about the female orgasm, but also for young men who end up being in heterosexual relationships. Since female orgasms are not taught in an open and gender bias-free way, it leaves men only with information about male ejaculation, this being the only pleasure derived from sex. It does not educate young people that one part of sex is about reciprocated pleasure, regardless of sexual orientation. In many ways, disregarding the female orgasm in sex education perpetuates the historical oppressive opinions that sex is centred around the male orgasm. If more men from a young age are taught about the female orgasm, there is more mutual understanding of the reality of sex from a young age, which could help liberate societal perceptions of female sexuality.

By educating all children about the female orgasm in sex education, it not only confronts oppressive societal barriers that essentially represses female sexuality, but also releases young women from being imprisoned with false representations of sex. In giving young women a realistic understanding of sex, it could free them from feeling ‘broken’ and ‘inadequate’ due to misconceptions fuelled by inaccurate representations of sex in the media.