Women, in general, tend to disassociate during sex (myself included) and I hate that for us. But here's the thing: the year was 1960-something when white women are preaching, striving for sexual liberation, and coining terms like "the orgasm gap". Black women, we (our ancestors) were putting the same energy into the civil rights movement. The priorities were different and understandably so. Yet, I say all of this to say: the undoing and desire to close the orgasm gap began late for us, when in reality we needed a head start because so much of our sexuality has been colonized to begin with.
And, it shows! It shows in how we as Black women view sex and our sexualities, how we discuss it, and how we feel about it. For so long, sex was seen as something men do to us. So much so that I recall a time where so many women would rather not masturbate because her pleasure was intended to stroke the ego of men. The thing is, the orgasm gap that we face tells a different story in regards to the pleasure we're receiving in our sex lives. No, the orgams gap isn't specific to Black women, but much like the pay gap I imagine that this (the orgasm gap) too disproportionately impacts us.
But let me back up. What is the orgasm gap? The orgasm gap refers to the prioritization of the cis-het man's orgasm in the bedroom. It's the centering of pleasure around the patriarchy for any number of reasons, whether it be miseducation or willful "ill[CLIlT]eracy."
In a nutshell: it is the disproportionate rate of men to women receiving orgasms in the bedroom.
Though everyone's body is different and not all women are capable of having an orgasm, we should be able to enjoy the pleasure that comes along with a partner who tries their best to get us there. The biggest issue for an able-bodied clitoris is education, i.e. our grossly lacking understanding of our anatomy.
With over 5,000 nerves in the clitoris, it simply shouldn't be this hard for women to receive an orgasm. But men have to be able to find it, first. The best way to remedy this is a healthier sex education for all -- sex-positive sex education in our homes and in the school system. But because I'm in the business of talking about Black women specifically, I want to talk about some ways to close the orgasm gap specifically tailored towards us.
1. Unlearn Shame and Colonial Sex Idealogiesjenifer lewis shame GIF by ABC Network Giphy
Those who enslaved Blacks were very intentional about the language they used around our sexuality, demonizing us with derogatory language that condoned the sexual mistreatment of Black women and men. They made it appear that because we were "animals" we had an insatiable sex drive that condoned white men raping us and a false narrative that Black men couldn't be trusted to not sexually harm white women. Black women were bred as if they were cows in a barnyard and then once slavery ended, they created the narrative that all we do is lay up and have children. This also brought into play respectability politics in an attempt to move us from this narrative and create more opportunities in a white world for Black people. So now when we show any natural human sexuality, we as Black women are hypersexualized and that breeds internalized hate.
Unlearn all of that because that's the real white shit -- not sucking dick, not anal, not masturbation. To further understand what it is that you're unlearning, research the contradictions and exploitation that colonizers have created around oursexuality while they are out here living their best lives.
2. Get Familiar with Your Actual Sexuality
Start unpacking after you've done some educating! How do you actually feel about sex as it related to you? Your sexuality. Who do you want to be when it comes to your sexuality...when society isn't dictating? Why do you judge those (especially women) who display their sexuality differently than you? How often have you encountered the reality of the orgasm gap? It might be helpful to journal through this.
3. Explore Your BodySexy Hannah GIF by HannahWitton Giphy
You cannot help your partner understand what you like if you don't know what you like. Try masturbating manually and with a toy while viewing ethical porn or reading an erotic novel. Touch your breasts, use lubricant, set the mood.
Genuinely have sex with yourself so that you can truly innerstand what gets you to your orgasm.
Are you in the majority where you require a combination of clioral and vaginal stimulation? What trauma do you have around your sexuality, from this lifetime and others, from your personal experiences and from those of your ancestors (our bodies hold that too)?
4. Educate Yourself
Based on what you found in your research, browse the internet or connect with others in order to figure out ways to bridge the gaps in your pleasure, making for one less statistic of the orgasm gap. Goop has a great resource entitled the "14 Best Books About Sex That are Worth the Read" and is a great place to start.
5. Communicate and Consent
Be sure to talk to your partners before you all have sex (not necessarily right before) and after. See what's working and what's not. Try to communicate your sexual trauma so that your partner doesn't accidentally trigger you in any way. After all, if you can't even relax during sex, an orgasm becomes that much more difficult to attain. DO NOT be afraid to say what didn't please you.
The ancient African-American proverb "a closed mouth doesn't get fed" will never not be relevant. And also make sure you're open and honest about the kinks that you may need integrated in order to feel sexually fulfilled.
These discussions will make sure you're sexually compatible with your partner and that your partner is willing and ready to do what it takes to ensure you both have a pleasurable experience.
6. Educate Those in Your Life
From your sexual partners to your children, make sure you're teaching everything from the anatomy and how it works, to the ways in which most porn should not be the pleasure map that is pulled from.
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