Columns Dec 2, 2010 at 4:00 am

Macho Drama


93: "Saying, "I'm fine," when you're not really fine is passive-aggressive. Ipso facto, so is saying, "I don't care about orgasms," when you really do."

BULLSHIT. Complete and utter.

A twenty-one year old girl who's never had an orgasm doesn't even KNOW if she cares about 'em or not. And not having the tools to communicate about it does not make her passive aggressive. She knows she's missing something, but she doesn't know what it is. The fact that she says she doesn't care about it indicates that she feels it's HER problem, and, perhaps feeling there's something wrong with her, chooses to avoid the subject while relieving her partner of guilt.
I'm with ggg (101) on this one. If you've never had orgasms when you feel you're supposed to, and you've never learned how useful sexual communication can be (and are, quite frankly, a little frightened about it), you don't know that it might help to stand up for yourself and get those orgasms that other girls are getting. You don't know if you're broken or not, you don't know if there is a solution, and you don't want to talk about your problem with a partner and then make the partner feel inadequate. So, when she says she doesn't care about orgasms, the partner should NOT leave it at that. A lot of women just don't know what to do to become orgasmic, don't know if it is even possible for them, and may feel like they've tried everything already (because they read cosmo and try all the tricks they assure you will get you off). Sometimes these ladies need a kick in the butt to stop being so complaisant and start learning how to get off already. They're not being passive-aggressive. They really don't know what they're missing and if orgasms are even an option for them.

Your teasing suggestions are fine (and really hot), and I understand you've been in this situation. But not everyone falls into that category. While of course partners should be open and willing to help each other come, not everyone needs orgasms, not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone thinks they're the most important part of sex, and not everyone who can't come is missing something.

You're asking people to walk an impossible line between not pressuring a girl and pushing her to have orgasms; sometimes it's better to just let her realize whether she wants to try to come herself, while being available to offer help.
@2 "Also, what kind of young guy doesn't want a threesome?"

Human beings that don't fit the gender construct that men are unable to say no to sex?
80: Maybe I was putting too much emphasis on the specific phrase, but to me, "don't bother" sounds like the person saying it has already had enough experience on the subject to understand their own likes and dislikes, and they don't need you second guessing them. It's just slightly less emphatic than "save your breath." YMMV.

I agree that it's hard to do that extra bit of investigation well. From me you get at most two No-thank-you's. The next one will be "No thank you, damn it."
There are many men who do not come from blowjobs, and there are many who just haven't yet. My other half, when we met, had never come from one and thought he just couldn't. It did not take long before we found out that he could and that he loved it.

How we did that was by not worrying about the orgasm. Treating sex as a fun experience and journey, a kind of communication, with orgasms a fun but non-essential consequence, freed up both of us to just play and have fun, experiment and experience.

Some times I would spend ages just gently licking and playing with him, and he'd spend a ridiculous amount of time just running his fingertips very lightly over my whole body until my skin became a giant, sensitive, trembling mass. Sometimes we'd hardly touch each other, but would just verbalise our worship of each other's bodies. Sometimes we'd try something that would go so hilariously wrong we'd end up collapsing into fits of teary giggles unable to continue. Sometimes we'd purposefully do something offputting or weird just to see each other's reaction. Sex became the most wonderful game.

In time, we discovered the reason he'd never came from a blowjob, overcame it, and I've been happily munching on him ever since! The thing is though, if we hadn't? We'd still have been having fantastic fun and daft sex.
TWAT, I know from personal experience that it is possible to over-use a vibrator, to the point where your clit gets desensitized. (Because that's exactly what I did when I was your age and got my first vibrator. I was using it every day, twice a day.) The warning sign is that it's taking you longer and longer to get off with the vibrator, and the hand doesn't work. So follow Dan's advice, start off with the vibrator and finish with the hand, weaning yourself off the vibrator until you don't rely on it for orgasms.
TWAT, I know from personal experience that it is possible to over-use a vibrator, to the point where your clit gets desensitized. (Because that's exactly what I did when I was your age and got my first vibrator. I was using it every day, twice a day.) The warning sign is that it's taking you longer and longer to get off with the vibrator, and the hand doesn't work. So follow Dan's advice, start off with the vibrator and finish with the hand, weaning yourself off the vibrator until you don't rely on it for orgasms.
@103 Good call.

@ggg I know that a lot of young women do not know what turns them on. They don't know what helps them have orgasms. They don't know what they're missing. You sound extremely emotional about this, and that's cool. But I believe what we need to do is encourage said girls (and all girls, everywhere for that matter) to learn how to be self-aware and speak up for themselves, not insist the men in their lives do that for them. Sitting back and going, "I don't know what I like or want, but it's your job to figure that out!" isn't the answer. And finding out what we like sexually is a life-long process anyway. A 21-year-old girl is just at a certain point in her development. Trust me--when she's 31, she'll know better. But, again, that's a journey of exploration she needs to take responsibility for. Her partners need to be open to listening and game for trying different things to find out what works, but like I said in my original comment--she needs to say, "I want to learn what makes me come, so help me learn it!"

A lot of this comes down to what society teaches women about their bodies, not singular asshole male partners who take women at their word when they say they don't care. This means we need to encourage women to have greater agency around sex--which means telling them it's okay for them to explore their bodies and speak up.
I'm just grateful that I can sit down next to my fiance and say, "Honey, I've been giving more blowjobs as per your request--now can we use the whip more often, please?"
@103: "not everyone needs orgasms, not everyone can have orgasms, not everyone thinks they're the most important part of sex, and not everyone who can't come is missing something."

Did I stumble onto the wrong site? Pat Robertson, is that you?
I'd be interested to know what percentage of people who don't come are physically unable. I'm betting for most, it's in your head, which is the largest sex organ in the body. If you can change your mind, you can change your sex life.

@109 shanahnah: What I said @101 sounded extremely emotional to you? Really? I was just calling bullshit on the Junior Therapist diagnosis of passive aggression. What it seems to me is another girl trying to save another guy's ego when he can't make her come, which is pretty sweet, if misguided.

Maybe I'm just not understanding why people readily accept NOT having orgasms when its oh-so-very possible. I mean, I get that sex is lovely without it, but wouldn't it be so much lovlier if you CAME? Why not approach it with a "hey, let's try a little sumpin sumpin"? Even if you don't come, you tried somethin new, and got pretty worked up in the process.

I didn't mean to imply that the girl should lie there and let the boy deal with pleasing her. I agree that women need to speak up. If some of what I said sounded good to her, she could share that with him and try a thing or two.
Gotta say, I'm really blown away by the "orgasm isn't all-that contingent. Dan? Weigh in here?
BLOWJOB -- try a tongue stud. Used properly, amazing results. Otherwise, just listen to Dan.
@ggg At no point did I say she should just lie there and take it. I'm a huge fan of orgasms. I will say that some people claim to be asexual (and at varying points on the give-a-shit-about-sex scale), and those people are not necessarily just fooling themselves. Some people DO have orgasms and STILL don't really care about sex. But some people might genuinely enjoy their life without orgasms. Their choice, not mine.

That said, my first comment didn't even call you out specifically, so you must've seen some of your argument in what I was arguing against. My only issue with you is that in many of your comments in this thread you've basically taken the position that all girls who say they don't care are only doing it to spare their guy's ego. Two things are true. 1) If they are doing this, that's their bad. And if they're then sitting back and being pissed at homeboy for not trying harder, then they ARE being passive-aggressive. You're right--I'm no licensed counselor. However, I can read. 2) Not all women are saying they don't care because they're trying to protect their guy's ego. The fact that you seem to think that's the only reason women ever say such things shows a really strong bias. Some women might really mean it--or they might just THINK they mean it, you see where that starts to get us into trouble?

Believe me, I'm very vocal about "Up with Orgasms!"--almost to the point that my friends are sick of hearing about it.
Women who have trouble with orgasms should try Kegel exercises. Ben wa balls or jade eggs can help you locate, strengthen, & build awareness of your PC muscle.

Do your Kegels faithfully for 6 weeks and you should see improvement. It's like toning any other muscle.

Kegel exercises have many important health benefits as well.

ggg, the problem is that you're depicting pre-orgasmic women as if they were ripe apples waiting to be plucked by the right man, if only he'd be sensitive and patient enough. Some of them are, and that's wonderful.

But there are also a lot of fucked-up people out there who aren't accessible to any kind of intimacy, whose lives are dominated by rage and bitterness instead of passion and compassion, who'd rather be in control than be in love. What can you do with someone who doesn't WANT to feel these things?

You can sense a lot about a person's sexual self before you ever hop in bed with them. The women I've known who are pre-orgasmic, or who can only get off if everything is just right (and I'm not talking about PIV only here), have almost all been totally neurotic: resentful, preoccupied with power dynamics and control, bitter, anhedonic. Sex with them feels like work, not play.

I'm not sure which is cause and which is effect; all I know is that being around them is a hell of a lot less fun than being around other, more joyful spirits whose sexualities are more fluid and easy. Not even the most thoughtful, sensitive or insightful man can get past that stuff unless the woman genuinely wants it to happen.
@114 MommaBear: Great tip. Thanks for the reminder (I'm doin em now!) That must be why I like Pilates "engage the core!"

@115 ygg ygg: I was assuming that people who read this column are sex-positive, or at least aspire to be. A thoughtful, sensitive insightful man doesn't belong with a raging, bitter control freak anyhoo (God help him), but I suppose opposites attract.
I was basically talking about the ability to have an orgasm as being a learned thing. Whether you take control and teach your lover how to give you one, or he or she teaches you, or you figure it out together. Should be way more fun than these comments (including mine).

@113 And Shanahnah, I don't even know where to start. Your arguments about my views are largely based on generalizations and half-assed assumptions (that women who don't speak up are passive-aggressive, that I think all girls who say they don't care are only doing it to spare their guy's ego, etc). I don't like being told how I think, especially when you're trying to make a black-and-white issue of a very gray area. In fact, I agree with many of your points, but your need to categorize my views is extremely irritating. I'm sorry if I insulted you by calling the whole passive-aggressive thing bullshit, but I believe that's one term that's way overused, and I'd wager it's almost never the reason women tell men that orgasm isn't important to them.
mommabear wrote:
Ben wa balls or jade eggs can help you locate, strengthen, & build awareness of your PC muscle.

Ooh, I'm gonna Google those!

Hunter78 wrote:
Dan does his column on orgasmic difficulties, then the readers explode in attacks on each other, to be followed by perhaps too emotional declarations. Incredible.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but I didn't expect any different. The Internet is a great breeding ground for snark. Thanks to everyone who decided to add their words of wisdom to the comments today, though!
You're right, Kersy. I'm sorry.
i'm a woman who doesn't orgasm except through masturbation, and the last thing i want is for my husband to hassle me about it.

when we first got together, i told him this, and it did bother him, but he got over it. because i really enjoy sex. without orgasms.

the orgasms i do have are okay, but i don't find much difference between "peaking" on my own and almost getting there (but not quite) with other people. i don't find orgasms mind-blowing or amazing, just kind of nice.

so no, i really don't care about having them. i like my sex life.

do i have some kind of issue? maybe, and maybe eventually i'll go talk to a doctor or a therapist.

but the only thing that makes me think that way is the constant pressure in "the media" and the general cultural ambience that says there's something wrong with not orgasming. that's what makes me feel bad, and think there's something wrong with me.
@120: There's nothing wrong with you! Please don't feel bad! You're completely normal. It's very very common to only be able to come on your own. Not everyone's body is wired the same way. All that media/cultural/sex advice stuff is just there as a fun option that some people might enjoy experimenting with, not something that you're supposed to measure up to.
@123: Thanks :)

i think i just reacted really strongly to Dan's response to the first letter, as it is such a common attitude - there is something WRONG if you don't orgasm, as though sex isn't valuable without it.

it doesn't bother me often, but it's one of those niggling itches that comes up when i read stuff like this.

normally, i think dan's fab.
@124 (lucifermourning): I think Dan's great when it comes (pun intended) to advice for men, but he misses the boat when it comes to advising women sometimes! There's only so much a guy can imagine about what sex is like for the "fairer sex," and since he doesn't have a good reason to have discussed the topic one-on-one, in intimate detail, *in person* with a wide range of women, he's contending with a significant gap in knowledge, IMHO.
@120: Before anything else let me say that I appreciate your thoughtful post and respect your right to have your sexuality on your own terms.

Having said that, I do think your post brings up two issues. First, I'm wary of framing these issues in terms of "the general culture ambience" making a person feel bad. I mean, yes, of course, I understand what you mean. But at the same time, is there ANY way that someone could say to you "I think you're missing out" without making you feel bad? Because otherwise, aren't you just projecting your own frustration?

For many years, like you, I found my orgasms to be nothing more than "kind of nice", and I was frustrated by that. But I didn't blame society or culture for that; instead, I was GRATEFUL that I knew that it could be better, because it gave me hope that orgasm could be more than just a vague, sneeze-like feeling. Eventually I figured out how to make that happen, and it was a literally life-changing experience.

(rest of post below)
(continued from 126)

The second issue is going to be more controversial, but I don't really care if it pisses anyone off or makes them feel bad, because I need to speak plainly:

I really think that it's a big deal when someone can ONLY have orgasms if they do themselves, and are NEVER able to get off if the primary stimulation is coming from their partners. This goes for men, women, straight, gay, lesbian, queer, and anything-else too, and covers any form of sexual expression: PIV, oral, anal, manual, whatever.

Speaking for myself, there's a HUGE difference between getting myself off and letting someone else get me off. It's totally a control thing, and I think part of intimacy is being able to temporarily give up that control, because it breaks the boundaries between people in a way that getting yourself off doesn't.

I think that people who can NEVER do that - not even from oral, not even from a vibrator held by their SO - are missing out, and while it's not their fault, it also doesn't do them any good to sugarcoat the issue. And like several earlier posters, I think this stuff is heavily, heavily bound up with a person's psychology. Yes, sometimes "nerve endings or neurotransmitters" are the issue, but I think way more often, it's between the ears. When that issue is successfully addressed, I think people are happier both in their sex lives, and in their lives as a whole.
Sheepy, I hope you'll become a registered commenter. Your posts deserve a wider audience!
(Sheepy's comments are #126 and #127, for those of you who, like me, stick with The Stranger's default setting for registered users, and don't usually see unregistered commenters' posts.)
I agree Sheepy...I am the same way. You definitely hit the nail on the head. I think some of it had to do with me aging (I am in my 30's now), but most of it had to do with meeting the right guy who made me feel comfortable enough to completely trust him and "let go".

That sensation of "letting go" for me was hugely terrifying, and took YEARS before I was able to do it with him. But when I finally gained enough trust to do it? HOO BOY!! Wow, absolutely life-changing. So, yes, it takes practice, and a *huge* amount of trust!

I certainly can't speak for all women, because I know we all have such different anatompies and psychologies, but I never thought I would meet someone who could make me come harder then I could make myself. I was wrong. When I mastered the art of "letting go", I learned how to come from penetration alone, multiples, and then really freaky shit too. Orgasms on command, and orgasms from just being touched on non-genital regions or even from oral sex for him. But the letting go was the key, and it was indeed super scary.

Thank you! I am totally the same way, and once I finally let go of the goal of orgasm with partners, I began to enjoy sex so much more. I still sometimes have partners who don't get it, and they usually take 1 of these 2 unacceptable approaches:

1. The "You just haven't been with me" approach.
2. The "Oh, so I don't have to concern myself with your pleasure at all" approach.

Both suck.

I enjoy so much about sex now that I'm not trying to do something that I cannot do. I actually feel bad for people who only enjoy sex if they have an orgasm. They are missing out on a world of pleasure.

The sexual revolution, and what it did for women's right to sexual pleasure, was a huge step forward. Unfortunately, "sexual satisfaction" was (and is still) defined as orgasm, which is a pretty patriarchal view... orgasm is typically the end of a sexual encounter for a man, but not necessarily for a woman. Furthermore, the sourceless statistic I've seen thrown around estimates that about 25% of women cannot achieve orgasm.... that's roughly 25% of women who are told by society that they are not getting what they should be getting out of sex. Pretty empowering, right?

I think this stuff is heavily, heavily bound up with a person's psychology. Yes, sometimes "nerve endings or neurotransmitters" are the issue, but I think way more often, it's between the ears.

So, do you have any data to back this assertion up? Anything other than your own gut feeling?
@My Name Here, @badgirl: Hey, thanks very much!

@echizen_kurage: I'm willing to have a conversation in good faith, though in truth I hesitate because of your previous aggro in this thread and because your posting history suggests that you're probably looking for a fight, not a conversation. I'll be happy to be proved wrong on the latter.

In any event, I don't accept that my only two options are "gut feeling" and "data", by which I presume you mean something like a double-blind study. I'd call my assertion an informed opinion, based on my own experience, the experience of people I know, conversations with psych professionals and sex therapists over the years, my own research into the topic, and abundant research describing the ways in which body and mind influence one another (i.e. that thought patterns affect the body profoundly, and that the body's responses can change massively if the underlying thoughts are changed). But I can't offer you a Big Pharma-style trial in which half the participants pop pills and the other half go to shrinks. (I don't know that such a trial would prove anything, since the format is inherently prejudicial towards "simple" solutions like drug therapy.)
So if a guy doesn't make a big deal over his girl not reaching the Big O he's thoughtless, insensitive and doesn't give a shit about her pleasure? If he does make a big deal over it then he's an impatient, insecure macho jerk?
Put me in the camp of "You may be content with your [non-orgasmic / non-orgasmic with partners / non-orgasmic thru partner's efforts alone] sex life, but please remain open to the idea that your sex life could still improve by incorporating some of those things."

I was happy (in my 20s) to have sex with my boyfriend back when I could only come alone in a room with a vibrator. I don't like Ygg Ygg's insults @115-- "totally neurotic: resentful, preoccupied with power dynamics and control, bitter, anhedonic." I'd say I was young and inexperienced, not bitter.

I was happy (in my 30s) to have sex with my husband when I could only come through my own efforts, usually after we had PIV sex - and we both enjoyed that I was getting off while he cuddled me.

And now I'm happy (in my 40s) that I can come with him inside me, if I control the clitoral stimulation. Without the PIV, he can hold the vibe and get me off. And as we discovered recently, if I read sex stories, then he can get me off from oral - yay!

It's all a journey. Don't push a partner too hard, but encourage your partner to be receptive to change. Change happens.
@103 (57 & 134 said the same thing dickishly): "You're asking people to walk an impossible line between not pressuring a girl and pushing her to have orgasms"

Yes, there are many ways of being a jerk and no perfect guidelines for how to be a decent human being. That's why there are so many jerks out there. Try to find a partner who will cut you some slack if you seem like you care, and then try to care about her opinions, her sensations, her orgasms, her happiness.
Re HMC, the anorgasmic woman: Good advice, but way too harsh on her boyfriend.

I've been with a woman who'd never had an orgasm before, and the dynamics were tricky. She insisted it was impossible for her, and worried that my focus on her orgasm meant that I didn't accept her.

It took a lot of persistence and patience from me to finally convince her to relax and allow me to figure it out with her, which (happily) we eventually did. Had I caved in to her resistance, however, we would have failed, and it would have had nothing to do with me being selfish.
@47 - Yeah, my wife isn't always interested in coming either. A fella's got to learn to work with what's on the menu, even if that means making the huge sacrifice of sitting back and enjoying a blow job. :-)
ggg, all well said!
#85 (and others who seem to think I'm blaming men when women don't orgasm), let me try rewriting my original comment in point form and one-syllable words so you can maybe get it this time:

1) A guy or girl that you fuck may say they never need to come, don't like this or that sex act, blah blah blah.

2) I say, if this takes place: ask more things. To know what a guy or girl wants in bed is good but to know why they want it is more good.

3) To talk and know why may lead to fun new kinds of sex for one or both of you. Or it may not. But if done right it will for sure lead to shared warmth.

4) ...BUT, if you ask why and he or she says things that can't be fixed, or gets mad, then STFU and do not ask any more.


I hope that's easier to understand.
ggg: I was trying to offer some things I found helpful to get to the relaxed, tingly and sensation-ready place you need to be in to even hope for an orgasm.

...But you phrased it like an attack, like "OMG, Men of the Internet, why do you suck so much? If you want your girlfriend to come then you have to stop being such neglectful bastards and start with the foreplay!"

FYI, it took my first bf months of trying before he could get me off, even though I'd been getting myself off for years by that point. It wasn't a lack of forplay or arousal; in those days I could get turned on if the wind changed direction. :P The issue was simply that another human being can never precisely replicate the hand movements I use on myself, so it took my body a while to learn how to respond to the moves of another person.

I hate the stereotype that all women need mushy gentle stuff in order to get off and guys are all ham-fisted idiots who just wanna jackhammer away.

I do love foreplay, baths, etc....sometimes. But I'm also dominant and feisty and pretty quick to get revved up. My ex used to consistently approach me in the stereotypical "sensual" way that women are supposed to crave and I would consistently have to cut to the chase and shove his hand down onto my crotch.

"More foreplay" is not the universal answer to How to Properly Sex a Woman, is all I'm saying.
After coming, "her cunt will be more receptive and...[offer] less resistance" Does this even make sense? Don't the contractions mean that a cunt feels tighter to him after the woman comes?

Something about this whole description made me sad for the woman in question, whose pussy puts up resistance to the havoc-wrecking cock as long as it can... Her orgasm is his goal (as a sign of his prowess), and aside from that, he's not interested in her pleasure or preferences.
@110 (shahnahnah) - I just noticed your post, and wanted to comment that if your fiance isn't interested in whipping you now, he's not going to be interested in whipping you after you're married. And if you're not loving the blowjobs now, you're probably going to resent the way he nags you for them in a few years. Something to consider before you get married.
@136: I don't think not being a dick is that difficult: just be open to your partner's pleasure, offer to try new things and take time to do things that he/she likes, and don't worry about or focus on orgasm, just on giving pleasure.

I wrote that about "walking an impossible line" in response to ggg, who seemed to favor a more aggressive approach insisting that your partner come. That seems a little too much like pressuring your partner.
@EricaP, you seem to be reading more into these comments than is actually there. Calm your indignation.

@143: Post-orgasm (as in when the spasms are done), the vagina is looser, muscles relaxed, all that. In other words, @142 is trying to say hey, be expecting that a post-orgasmic vagina is not as tight.
@146 - I've just never heard that before. Tightness is generally considered a good thing in a cunt. Are there valid concerns that the vagina might feel too loose if the girl has already come?

You should have seen the screed I originally wrote. "Trace their tendernesses" indeed.
Sometimes a good lubricant can work wonders.
In Spanish, at least, macho means male, and hembra means female. So, macho/hembra drama
I love you Dan. Reading your column has helped me overcome my raised-as-a-Catholic-and-sex-is-evil upbringing. I told my husband he should thank you, but I think I weirded him out.

Um . . . sorry for the "aggro"? I didn't realize I was being particularly aggressive, although I will admit that I love a good argument, at least on teh interwebz.

Here's where I'm coming from: as you may or may not have guessed, I'm one of those "totally neurotic, bitter, resentful" women (to borrow Ygg Ygg's charming phrasing) who can only come with a vibrator. My partners can sometimes get me off using one, but I have a much a higher success rate when I'm flying solo. Maybe this is because I automatically know exactly when and how to adjust the position and pressure of the vibrator, in a way that my partner can't (unless, of course, I someday manage to hook up with a telepath). Maybe it's because I have "problems between the ears" (to borrow your charming phrasing). Either way, that's my situation, and yeah, it kinda sucks. Not as much as being totally anorgasmic, of course, but I still don't love it. What I love even less is being told by some soi-disant sexpert that my orgasmic impairment is the product of my flawed personality.

At any rate, my question for you is this: if difficulty achieving orgasm is, as you claim, primarily psychological, then why does this difficulty disproportionately afflict women? If the problem is rooted in physiology, then the prevalence of female orgasmic dysfunction makes perfect evolutionary sense: female orgasm is not essential to reproduction in the way that male orgasm is, and would not be selected for as strongly (if at all). But if the problem is psychological (inasmuch as psychology can be separated from physiology), then wouldn't we expect to see a more equal gender distribution of orgasmic dysfunction?
@153, Aren't we, as women, especially trained by society to be self-conscious about our bodies? My own case supports Sheepy's claim. If I'm in my head (and thinking about someone else's needs or presence keeps me in my head), then I'm too self-conscious and I can't come. But alone, with a story (imagined or textual), I can come easily. Because I'm in the story, not in my head. When we try to recreate that with another person in the room (give me stories to focus on, so I forget the other person is there), it really helps me get to orgasm. I recommend it!

Thanks for the advice. I've appreciated your posts throughout this thread and elsewhere, and I've definitely found that fantasizing/reading erotica is an orgasm booster. However, I do maintain that culture and psychology alone do not adequately explain the disparity in orgasmic capacity between males and females, and that in many cases, the problem is genetically hardwired.
There is evidence to suggest that the further the clitoris is from the vagina, the harder it is for the woman to orgasm (at least during intercourse. I believe women whose clitorises are less than a quarter centimeter from their vaginal opening have the easiest time and are the ones who can come without any direct, focused stimulation. Those whose clits are a centimeter away have a much harder time. So yes, physiology and anatomy play a role.

I've been agreeing with many things you, EricaP, and ggg have been saying about women's socialization to be uncomfortable with their own bodies, to not be aware of what arouses them, to not know what they're missing if they are young and haven't yet orgasmed, to not know what to ask for or how to ask for it or direct it, to not want to be a drag to their partners, etc.
Thanks for the link. Though when I read that "up to 45% of the differences between women in their ability to reach orgasm can be explained by their genes" -- I am reminded that the phrase "up to..." includes the number 0.

Also, the study doesn't address how the genes affect orgasm: "Whether that basis is anatomical, physiological or psychological remains uncertain."

Maybe some women are genetically more susceptible to body issues, or they have clits which are harder to access, or whatever. They still might be able to improve their own orgasms through education and experimentation. Biology is not destiny.

(Note that the study is about differences among women, not differences between men and women. Many men also have trouble reaching orgasm the way they think they should be able to.)

@ EricaP:

Yes, zero falls within the "up to 45%" range, but presumably the genetic influence on female orgasmic capacity is somewhere north of zero; otherwise, the study wouldn't have found a significant correlation between orgasmic (dys)function and genetic proximity.

I can't remember any figures about male versus female orgasmic dysfunction offhand, and I'm feeling too lazy to go looking -- but my sense is that female orgasmic dysfunction is far, far more prevalent than its male counterpart, particularly in the young-to-middle-aged segment of the population. I suspect that a sizable percentage of males may develop orgasmic dysfunction as they age, but comparatively few suffer from orgasmic dysfunction throughout their lives. Of course, this is just my sense of the situation, so take it with a grain of salt.

I'm not claiming that biology is destiny, or that women who are predisposed toward orgasmic dysfunction can't learn to work around their difficulties. But I wanted to provide a counterpoint to Sheepy's claim that the etiology of orgasmic dysfunction lies primarily "between the ears." (Not only did this comment rub me the wrong way -- as you've probably already noticed -- but I honestly believe that it's a gross oversimplification of the issue.)

Speaking from personal experience, with the caveat that anecdote =/= datum, the most highly orgasmic woman I ever met was intimacy-phobic and highly body-conscious. (She didn't even like me looking at her when we had sex.) But she could go from zero to orgasm in thirty seconds flat. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a good friend who shares all my orgasmic difficulties -- but where I'm a big ol' bundle of neuroses, she's extremely well-adjusted, self-confident, in a stable, loving relationship, etc. So, questions of wounded pride aside -- and I'm willing to admit that's part of my issue, here -- Sheepy's claim really doesn't ring true for me on an experiential level.

@ NoCuteName:

Huh, that's interesting (although, when I think about it, it does make a lot of sense). Thanks for the info! And thanks also for your earlier "glass three-quarters fill" comment -- as someone in a similar situation, I really appreciate your positive outlook.
Don't worry "BLOWJOB". I have the same problem. I'm on Zoloft and having an orgasm through a blowjob or handjob is difficult for me. If he's on an antidepressant there are some things you can do. When my wife wants to give me a handjob she uses a Fleshlight on me. It's so tight that every nerve in my penis is being stimulated. When she wants to blow me I insert an Aneros prostate stimulator. Between the tounge on my penis and the stimulation on my prostate I orgasm alot quicker. You don't even have to buy an Aneros, you can stimulate his prostate with your finger also.
Try a few of these things.

"However, he doesn't orgasm when I blow him or give him a handjob. He says he's never been able to come from blowjobs or handjobs "

Is it really a blowjob if he doesn't come?
@161 - what would you call it?

Why, OF COURSE you call it unsatisfying oral sort-of stimulation! Can't have people who've had their cocks sucked for, say, 45 minutes straight without coming thinking they'd gotten a blowjob!
I love the wording by BLOWJOB. "I'm in college and in a super fantastic relationship". Super fantastic? A)Are you even old to be legally having sex with someone else? B)Sure, that's why you're writing to Dan Savage. Hah.
Damn, lots of anger here.

I still agree with Sheepy. I only know that when I was younger, and had a shitload of body image issues, no come. Now that I am older, shed the weight, shed the image problem, and discovered yoga and an amazing lover, I can come at the drop of a hat. *My* inability to orgasm when younger with a partner WAS mental, like 100%.

But I am not getting my panties in a wad about it. But maybe thats because I came a LOT this weekend, lol! I am in a pretty mellow mood right now...
This is an all-times-Dan's-classic, no doubt. Great questions, superb answers and lots of good advice mixed up with humor.
Not much to add so far (have nor read the comments yet) but to HMC I'd say: Google DTMFA and apply it immediately.
The quality differential between this week and last week is simply astounding.

I'm just curious: how did the word "twat" become synonymous with "pussy"? rhymes with "squat"?


I think it always meant that . . . or at least, it's had that meaning since 1650, according to the OED.
Granted: orgasms are great! Careful: orgasms aren't everything. Yes, we should strive to get as many as we can, hopefully A LOT! But we must not obsess in just getting them. There are times when just giving is good, times when just receiving is great and times when something interrupts the act and we have to start all over again, among many other possibilities. All those are OK. We are not supposed to come EVERY time. In fact, sometimes is better not to come. But what's for sure is that we should be able to make our companions come as we know how to make ourselves come. It's just a matter of respect. And its fun, too! Learning, discovering and striving to be better at it is as important as the act itself and much less ephemeral. But now I'm getting too philosophical.
I have to disagree w/ Dan's assessment of HMC's problem. If she isn't even able to make herself come by masturbating, she may be one of the 40% of women who have some sort of sexual dysfunction - eg low libido, inability to achieve orgasm, etc. The field of female sexual dysfunction is still a developing one (as opposed to that of male sexual dysfunction) and its causes may have many roots. I'd advise that HMC's first step is to visit her doctor and have a frank chat. Then, perhaps, total upheaval of her personal life may be in order. A partner unwilling to be in a threesome is not necessarily a bad person, nor is he to be assumed that he doesn't care about her sexual satisfaction.
OMG! As a mostly-hetero married woman, I'd LOVE to have sex w/most of the chicks posting this wk! PCowgirl,I KNOW EXACTLY what you're saying & I hate that misunderstood feeling when nobody else seems to get it; there's a lot of backbiting this wk! I'm 43 & been having orgasms since my teens (back then w/a vibrator)& now with a vibe or my hand: always clitoral, rarely internal. I also have a rather small clit & the way I stimulate myself is different than how I like my partner to.If I'm with a partner,I'm really only gonna get off by receiving oral sex, which I don't always get, but ALWAYS give. However, for me to reach orgasm, it takes up to 10 min, so I can take it or leave it. My husband only wants sex about 1x/month & we have intercourse for about 5 min before he comes. Sorry for all the background info-all I really had to say is that I can't believe I had to read up to #160 to find ONE commenter that mentions antidepressants! SSRIs- Prozac, Paxil & Zoloft are the main ones- usually have 3 sexual side effects: 1) Low libido 2)delay in orgasm 3) the orgasm when/if you do have it, is shitty-more of a plateau than a peak.These are FACTS! & @ least 30% of users suffer these side effects, altho the drug cos say it's far less.I was on Prozac in '91 & noticed the side f/x before I later read that other people had them too. My Dr. then was a woman from a very different culture, who didn't understand dating or premarital sex & didn't think womens' sexual pleasure was important. Glad I got rid of that bitch! Now I take Effexor, an SNRI-instead of just the body's serotonin, it also works with norepinephrine blah, blah, blah.It still has the same side effects, but far less. When I can't afford my Rx, I lay around & masturbate a LOT(!)Takes about 2 days for the meds to be out of my system enough where I can bust out a string of orgasms. It makes a diff! Sorry this is so long, but it bugs me that people almost never mention the possible antidepressant connection & I know it's relevant to someone out there.
TO BLOWJOB: One of the reasons guys don't cum from blow jobs is their needing to be dominant, to be in control. If you like being in control from time to time, BLOWJOB, you may just not be fully sexually compatible with your guy. You could try letting him fuck your face. He'd hold your head and do all the moving. He may also be helped by you being tied up while you blow him, or doing some role-playing fantasy that gives him power. For example, pretend that he's blackmailing you into blowing him. You can also try to encourage him to accept you being in control. Let him know that you don't buy into the macho stereotype and you won't think any less of him if he lets you make him loose control and cum. Deprogramming sexual blocks and inhibitions is a slow process, but possible.
Emotional Tampon? Jeeze, I guess that is why it is so easy to advise people to dump others so readily.
To TWAT: Another thing that you can do is engage in other kinds of stimulation while you use the vibrator, like fingering yourself (wash your hands, short nails!). If you associated vaginal stimulation with orgasms, it helps you get off easier when you start having penetrative sex.
Let me say from experience with having had blowjobs from, uh, many different people. With probably about 70% of them, as unfortunately with my three previous long term boyfriends, ejaculating from a blowjob was and is impossible. However, the other 30% have the technique to get me off quite nicely and sometimes quickly.

My advice to BLOWJOB would be to experiment with technique. Tell your boyfriend to be open about what kind of stimulation he likes. Sometimes he might not even know until you stumble upon the right approach. And remember that a blowjob is not just lips. There are active things you should be doing with your tongue and your cheeks, you can use your hands for extra stimulation of the cock and balls, and NEVER EVER let your teeth get in the way.

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