One of the great mysteries of the world. So great, I wonder if Dan Brown hasn’t already sent poor Robert Langdon on a near-death experience looking for it. I joke, of course, but we still have to contend with the popular belief that sexually active females do not or cannot achieve orgasm. Or that female orgasm is an evolutionary accident and therefore not a priority ever. For, like, anyone.
Now this is hardly a laughing matter when you consider Lisa Wade’s strong argument about the Orgasm Gap (that’s like the wage-gap, but possibly more facepalm). Pointing to pleasure as male privilege, she writes: “[H]is orgasm, but not necessarily hers, becomes a critical part of what must happen for a sexual encounter to be successful and fulfilling.” It’s no wonder that about a third of the women studied by the Kinsey Institute in 2008 reported that they could not achieve orgasm. It just isn’t deemed ‘necessary.’ Couple that with this little factoid – about 10-15% of women have anorgasmia (recurring difficulty achieving orgasm in spite of sexual stimulation), and we’ve suddenly got this idea in our heads that women’s bodies are just not capable of (or unworthy?) getting an orgasm.
Cue OMGYES, developed by researchers, filmmakers, engineers, designers, educators and sexologists, to “lift the veil and take an honest look at the specific ways women actually find pleasure.” This web-based application combines touch-screen technology with research and feedback from over a thousand women, aged 18 to 95. Through the touchable simulator, a user gets to learn effective techniques, and what’s really cool is that the software is super customized. In one of the demo videos, the presenter explained that the simulator was made of thousands of images of her vagina, with her preferences and feed-back built in.
These days we have an app for nearly everything – to monitor our water intake, or learn guitar chords really quickly – so why not one to perfect your orgasms? What’s really great about this – apart from the wow technology bit – is the intent and anticipated impact. It boldly announces to the world that female orgasm is a thing, and you can take the matter into your own hands. Literally. Moreover, it’s bulldozing through the prudery and secrecy around sex and pleasure. In all our talk about gender equality, it would be a huge oversight not to talk about how few women actually climax, and how so many of them fake orgasms, to protect their male partner’s egos, or mask their own sense of inadequacy or because all the instruction they’ve got is from a female porn star’s face contorting. In fact, lesbians have more orgasms than straight women.
Being short-changed from orgasm like this is actually pretty common because of how power operates even in the bedroom (or chair or shower or car or whatever).
“I have my own theories that frustration about inability to orgasm is an exclusively heterosexual problem,” said the anonymous creator of the Tumblr project, How To Make Me Come. “You’re dealing with someone whose anatomy you can’t feel, which causes an instance disconnect.” And that’s exactly what OMGYES wants to change, by encouraging familiarity with your body.
Getting to know what works best for your body than is also about more than just practical considerations. Dr Debbie Herbenick, of the Kinsey Institute, has written that “Women who feel more positively about the way her genitals look, smell or taste, for example, may find it easier to orgasm.” A programme like OMGYES can teach you a thing or two about pleasuring yourself, but can also give you the confidence to ask your partner(s) for exactly what you would like. The team has developed a special vocabulary for the techniques like “Edging” (maybe you heard about that on Orange is the New Black), “Hinting,” “Accenting,” and more. Orgasms? Great! Better communication with your partner(s)? Also great!
So would you rather be left with a sense of incompleteness, inadequacy and general discomfort, or would you rather go “OMGYES”?