Don’t pretend you haven’t seen or read any “advice” on sex from a woman’s magazine, because we all have. Whether it’s in line at the supermarket, airport, hair salon, or the dentist’s waiting room, we’ve all peered at a cover of a celebrity, filled with phrases like: “How to keep him wanting more,” “The lost art of a handjob,” “Sex secrets to make him beg.” If we were to stop right there, we can make at least one comment about these tips: Women are not pulling their weight in the sack. It seems like it’s all about the partner, inherently male, being sexually fulfilled. If the reader actually wants to know why she’s not having a good time, there’s no answer, except she’s not trying hard enough.
Well, the root of the problem does not lie in magazines aimed at women, but goes way deeper.
Until recently, most problems women faced, when it came to reaching orgasm and sexual pleasure, were considered psychological. While it is easy to simply say that this is patriarchal problem, some experts believe it’s way more basic.
According to Dr. Andrew Goldstein from the Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Washington DC, “Unfortunately it's obvious if men have sexual dysfunction, if they have erectile problems, you can see that, whereas women are stigmatized if they have any dysfunction. They are told it's in their head."
As primitive as it sounds, yes, it’s true. People have a harder time believing there is a physiological reason why women are having painful sex, not getting aroused, or not reaching orgasm, because they can’t see it.
Luckily there are physicians and scientists who are actually doing the work that should’ve been done decades ago. One of them is Dr. Cindy Meston, who has a lab that monitors the nervous system's response to sexual arousal in a woman’s body by inserting a vaginal photoplethysmograph ―which looks like the combination of a tampon and a light bulb―, into the pelvic region of her research subjects. Afterwards, the women watch videos of people having sex while Dr. Meston observes how they respond. Her studies have proven something incredibly valuable: women and men don’t need the same stimulus to get their bodies ready for sex.
Men and women are different. Wow, who would’ve thought? So for years the incorrect advice given by magazines was actually related to male arousal instead of female. All those suggestions of being relaxed, taking a bubble bath, and listening to Sarah Mclachlan were totally wrong. Because, according to Dr. Meston’s studies, women need to activate their fight or flight mode. A bit of exercise, a scary movie, a rollercoaster, or even an amazing concert is enough to turn the sympathetic nervous system on.
But another expert, Dr. Deborah Coady, who mapped the entire nervous system of the female genital region, discovered another thing. No two women are alike either. There are so many nerve endings and each woman’s will react differently. This is why generic comments on the clitoris or g-spot don’t work either. Pleasure is not a one-size-fits-all. It’s a journey of discovery. The more research comes out, the easier it will be for women to seek help or ask questions.
It shouldn’t be a taboo for women to want the same thing as their male counterparts. In essence, both sexes should be concerned with this subject. Pleasure is a two-way street, and just as someone feels ecstatic reaching the peak of sexual sensation, it’s as fulfilling to know they’ve helped their partner get there as well.