Can We Please Stop Blaming Women For Not Being Able To Orgasm?

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Medical experts, sexologists, and other sexperts had a lot to say when a Twitter user named La Sirena tweeted on Monday morning that all women should be able to have orgasms from penetrative sex alone. "When a woman can’t have an orgasm from pure penetration she’s usually suffering from some deep-seated mental [and] spiritual blockages regarding her sexuality [and] her worth. She probably doesn’t trust her sexual partner much either," she tweeted.
In addition to her tweet simply being inaccurate (it's well-known that a majority of people who have vaginas don't orgasm from penetration alone), it also caused outrage because, La Sirena is putting the blame 100% on women. That's a problem, says Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist who specializes in teaching women how to orgasm, because many people who struggle to have orgasms already blame themselves. "A lot of women are beating themselves up," she says. Her clients have told her things like: "I feel like I'm the only woman in the world who hasn't figured this out." "What's wrong with me?" and "I feel like I'm broken," Marin says.
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These kinds of insecurities are common, especially since women's sexuality is still so taboo. But Marin says that even though we're talking about women's pleasure more than ever, the way we're talking about it isn't helpful. Often, information about having orgasms if you have a vagina involves something simplistic like "relax and it'll happen," she says. So, that makes people who can't just relax and let their orgasms flow feel as if there's something wrong with them.
That's the same kind of rhetoric we see in La Sirena's tweet. She goes on to say that once a woman releases her trauma, she should be able to orgasm on demand. She suggests kegels and womb massages to release physical trauma, but stresses that mental blockages need to be cleared, too. While there is some truth to what La Sirena is saying — i.e. doing regular kegels can cause stronger orgasms from penetrative sex and feeling emotionally distant or untrusting of a partner can make it difficult to reach climax — the problem lays in how she's saying it.
Many people on Twitter have called La Sirena out for spouting "misogynistic shit under the guise of female empowerment," as Jennifer Gunter, MD, an ob/gyn and a pain medicine physician, tweeted. And her critics have a point. If Marin could rewrite the tweet, she'd say, "Hey look, there's a lot that can get wrapped up in our orgasm and it's important for us to try to explore what comes up for us [during sex] and prioritize learning about our bodies and our sexuality." That way, there's no judgement about people who can't climax from penetration alone. Because, FYI, there are lots of other (just as amazing) ways to orgasm.
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