Culturally, we have certain ideas about sex that are, for lack of a better term, inaccurate. Whether we can blame the media, male-dominated pornography or living in a patriarchal culture (or all of the above), its time to face the facts: our model of how sexuality is “supposed” to work is only based on about 50% of the population, that is, on how men tend to respond to sex.
What’s the “Typical” Cultural Model for Sex?
We’ve all seen it in the movies or TV – two strangers lock eyes, and the next thing you know, they’re clawing one another’s clothes off. The camera pans in such a way we can assume they quickly begin to have vaginal intercourse, as both partners moan in ecstasy. Sure, a sexy stranger can be an erotic fantasy for many women, and sometimes an exciting experience – but that’s not exactly how the majority of the female population has sex or wants to most of the time.
There are some major differences between male and female sexuality, on average. American culture, and many other cultures for that matter, are based on a largely male model – so when women look at their own sexuality, they simply don’t measure up.
What if We Expand the Model? The Pleasure is In The Details
Researcher Emily Nagosaki wrote an amazing book called Come As You Are: The Surprising Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. If you’re a woman, or like having sex with one – this book is for you. One of the main findings of her research is that while male sexuality tends to be spontaneous, women’s often tends to be responsive. That means, men can get turned on fairly quickly when they encounter something sexy – arousal happens spontaneously and they’re ready to get it on. That “two strangers meet” scenario will likely end with a male orgasm. Whether it ends with a female one too depends entirely on the details – where is it happening, who are they, why and how have they found themselves in this situation?
Meanwhile, female sexuality is more likely to be responsive to the situation at hand. Change a few details and a once-erotic scenario can become a total turn-off, or add a few “sexual accelerators” and it can lead to amazing orgasms. The pleasure is in the details. The problem is that when women expect their minds and bodies to respond like men typically do, they’ll never live up. Many women engage in sex that doesn’t particularly tickle their fancy, feeling broken and disconnected from themselves and their partners. Others avoid sex or make up excuses, when deep down they want something much more but have no idea how to get it.
What’s a Woman or Her Partner to Do? There is Hope, and Lots of It!
Whether you’re a woman or enjoy having sex with one, there are definitely more possibilities than the culture at large will teach you! Consider these questions for yourself and share with whoever you have sex with, or use these questions as inspiration to talk with your female partner:
- What erotic stories, movies or TV shows have turned you on in the past? What is happening in these tales – who is involved, how did they get together, and what did they do?
- In an ideal world, how would you like to feel about yourself during sex? Wild and free, romantic, sneakily doing something you’re not “supposed” to?
- How would you love to be seen by your partner during sex? Do you crave to be seen as a worship-able goddess meant to be worshipped, as a kinky sex kitten or as the cutie next door?
- What emotions do you tend to feel in your fantasies? Love and trust, excitement, a sense of naughtiness or fear?
- What power dynamics are intriguing to you, in a consensual way? Would you love to be in charge, to be a “good girl” and follow orders, or to switch it up?
- In the past, what has turned you OFF during sex? A partner’s bad breath, certain words for body parts, or having your kids wake up and knock on the door? What we DON’T like – what hits our “sexual brakes” is just as important as what makes the “sexual accelerator” go vroom vroom!
Be Patient: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, Nor Will Your Greatest Orgasms
It can be very frustrating if sex isn’t working how you wish it would. If you (or your partner) can consider it an exploration, that may make it easier to ponder and experiment with what you really need. Some people may feel uncomfortable even thinking about these questions, while others may know the answers right away! There is no right or wrong, as every body is different. If you can learn to enjoy the journey, well, that’s actually where much of the pleasure in sex lies anyway. Remember, most orgasms last a few seconds at most – so taking time to feel out where your body is happiest will help you reach the deepest depths of connection with yourself and your partner.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform.
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