Sex is a topic that people are still ashamed of talking about out loud. But the past few years have seen a lot of people coming out in the open and normalising the conversation around sex. Leeza Mangaldas is one such sex-positive influencer. With her judgement-free answers, Leeza aims to make the conversation around sex, intimacy and the body accessible to everyone. The Sex Book is another step in the direction of addressing awkward questions about sex and the body and provides a space for people to explore their sexuality and desires.
Read an excerpt from The Sex Book here:
The Orgasm Gap
Research shows that within heterosexual couples, women tend to have significantly fewer orgasms than men. This disparity of orgasms is called the orgasm gap. If you’re a straight woman, you probably don’t need any convincing of this fact—you’ll have most likely experienced this disparity yourself.
It’s worth considering that most women report being able to orgasm during masturbation, as well as that women in relationships with women report significantly more frequent orgasms than women in relationships with men.
Are women’s orgasms really so impossibly hard to figure out or are straight couples just not making women’s pleasure a big enough priority? How do we bridge the gap?
Dr Laurie Mintz, author of the wonderful book Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How To Get It, has some revealing statistics on how staggering the orgasm gap can be in experiences of heterosexual intimacy: ‘When masturbating, 95% of women orgasm. In first-time hook-ups with other women, they orgasm 64% of the time. In first-time hook-ups with men, they orgasm 7% of the time. This tells us that the problem isn’t women’s ability to orgasm. It’s our cultural scripts for heterosexual sex.’
Imagine if we got into elevators without knowing we had to press the buttons, or if we got into cars without knowing we needed the keys. That is literally how most straight men approach sex in relation to women’s pleasure—without knowing enough about the clitoris.
And while Dr Laurie’s research notes that the orgasm gap in heterosexual partnerships is maximum in first-time hookups, it reduces in friends-with-benefits equations, and shrinks further still in long-term relationships—presumably because the man becomes better acquainted with the woman’s pleasure over time—it never closes. Not by a long shot.
This is in large part due to the fact that heterosexual sex tends to be seen as a penis-centric activity: erection, penetration, ejaculation. And the sex typically ends when he comes. Her orgasm seems optional at best.
When women have sex with other women, it’s penetration that’s optional. And when women masturbate, most choose to stimulate their external clitoris, either solely or coupled with penetration.
While the clitoris has been neglected for too long, and I think it is really important that we all learn about it, do remember that the specificities of each individual’s pleasure preferences are unique—and one of the great joys of a shared sexual experience is discovering and celebrating those intricacies.
Some people may prefer indirect stimulation of the clitoris such as touching it over their underwear or with a thin sheet or towel in-between. And there are also some vulva-owners who may not enjoy clitoral play quite as much and instead prefer penetrative stimulation or breast play or any number of other forms of stimulation.
Ultimately, communicating with your partner about their as well as your pleasure is the most important step to more satisfying, pleasurable sex.
The above portion has been excerpted with permission from The Sex Book by Leeza Mangaldas, HarperCollins, Rs. 399.
Leeza Mangaldas is India’s foremost sex education content creator. She established her now immensely popular sex-ed platforms on YouTube and Instagram in 2017 as a passion project, alongside her work as a freelance journalist and TV presenter, hoping to help normalise conversations around sexuality, sexual health, gender, and the body. Her videos now reach millions of people in India and around the world, daily. She also hosts ‘The Sex Podcast’, a Spotify exclusive, in Hindi. Leeza has won several awards for her work, including Sexual Health Influencer of the Year 2021–22 at the Cosmopolitan India Blogger Awards, and has been featured on GQ’s list of Most Influential Young Indians in 2021 and 2022. She is a UN Women Ally, as well as the recipient of The Pleasure Project Fellowship.
You can get your copy of The Sex Book here.