What are some common misconceptions about sex? Why are men more susceptible to believe these?
There are many traditional beliefs about sex that are based on male anatomy and rarely on female anatomy. Because of these beliefs, women often don’t experience the same pleasure men do during sex.
Let’s look at the different male-centric sexual misconceptions and how they impact sex.
Male-Centric Sexual Misconceptions
In She Comes First, Ian Kerner explains that traditional beliefs about sex—like what it’s supposed to entail, how long it’s supposed to last, and how to know when it’s over—are based on male anatomy and rarely result in female orgasm. So the first step in learning how to please your female partner is to understand what these misconceptions about sex are and why they prevent female orgasms.
First, most men believe that penetration is the part of sex that feels best for men and women; however, Kerner explains that this is not the case for the vast majority of women. Most women need external clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm, and vaginal penetration alone fails to do this. Consequently, men are more likely than women to orgasm during sex.
(Shortform note: Kerner explains that men are more likely than women to orgasm during sex because their preferred method (penetration) is based on what pleases them, not what pleases women. Experts agree that heterosexual women generally have lower rates of orgasm than their male partners and add that women in lesbian relationships are much more likely to orgasm during sex. Whereas heterosexual women orgasm during sex with a familiar partner 61.6% of the time, lesbians orgasm 74.7% of the time. Researchers suggest that this might be because the expectation to prioritize male sexual pleasure is absent in lesbian relationships.)
Second, men can both get aroused and reach orgasm much faster than women. Whereas most men orgasm within two minutes of stimulation, women generally need more than 21 minutes of clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm (not including foreplay). Consequently, men tend to orgasm before their female partner is even close.
(Shortform note: Many experts agree with Kerner that the fast pace of male arousal and orgasm can cause issues with sexual compatibility among heterosexual couples. However, some believe that these issues may dissipate as men get older. They elaborate that starting around age 50, the pace of male arousal and orgasm tend to slow down and more closely align with that of women—rather than getting quickly aroused and erect from thoughts alone, men over 50 tend to need more physical stimulation and foreplay. This leaves more time for kissing, cuddling, touching, and so on, which provides women with the proper foreplay they need before sex and makes the experience more satisfying for both partners.)
Third, sex is traditionally over once the man ejaculates. Kerner explains that this is because after ejaculating, men tend to quickly lose their erection, arousal, and energy and need a long recovery period before being able to have sex again. This is called the “refractory period” and varies in length between men. Since men usually orgasm first and then tap out, women often don’t get the chance to orgasm at all before the session is over.
Ultimately, traditional beliefs about sex deny women the proper stimulation and time needed for them to reach orgasm. So to ensure that your female partner is equally satisfied during sex, Kerner says you must ensure that she orgasms first.
The Impact of Male-Centric Sexual Beliefs
Kener’s assertion that traditional misconceptions about sex are based on male anatomy isn’t new and has been repeated by numerous sex experts; however, many believe that the consequences of these beliefs are more far-reaching than Kerner discusses. Kerner focuses primarily on the fact that male-centric sexual beliefs lead to fewer female orgasms. However, In Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski adds that these beliefs also cause poor well-being and unrealistic self-expectations for women.
She elaborates that women feel pressured to meet male sexual expectations regarding appearance and performance. Women are expected to have small, contained vulvas, to get extremely wet when aroused, and not to ejaculate. However, Nagoski explains that all vulvas look different, not all women get extremely wet when aroused, and some women naturally ejaculate during orgasm. When women internalize these male-centric expectations and fail to meet them, they feel poorly about themselves and ashamed of their bodies.
Time Your Orgasm Based on Your Sexual Response and Refractory Period
Kerner explains that men should make sure their female partner orgasms first because they most likely won’t be ready to perform for a while after their own orgasm. However, this generalization may not apply to all men—men dealing with premature ejaculation may actually benefit from orgasming before their female partner. If a man facing premature ejaculation orgasms before the sexual session gets going, they can please their partner during their refractory period and be ready to enjoy a second, longer session of stimulation after their partner’s orgasm.
To decide whether this technique will work for you, you also need to understand your body and what causes variations in refractory periods, information that Kerner mostly skims over. Age plays a large part in the length of a man’s refractory period—younger men, especially teens, may need as little as 30 minutes while older men may need 24 hours or more. Drinking alcohol or masturbating frequently may also increase your refractory period. So if you’re a young man with premature ejaculation who masturbates infrequently and refrains from alcohol, orgasming before pleasing your partner may be a good idea—contrary to Kerner’s advice.