With the imminent release of Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as the return of naked-lady-centric Game of Thrones, it seems that Hollywood is in no rush to diversify its representations of women experiencing the big O onscreen. We all know the look- just picture the infamous When Harry Met Sally scene to refresh- mouth dropped open in euphoria, back arched, eyes closed with nary a weird twitch or unbecoming grimace in sight. Call me crazy, or perhaps someone who has racked up enough amusing sexual encounters to know better, but this is a consistent, and frankly harmful, FAIL on part of the film and television industries.
Amidst all of these flattering depictions of female lovers, it seems prudent to mention how often (and by that I mean always) they get off on pretty straightforward intercourse with their partners. Fifty Shades bondage gimmicks aside, most of these women orgasm strictly from vaginal penetration, which, if you put your faith in the American Psychological Association, occurs in only 8% of women. EIGHT PERCENT. So if that was accurately translated into Hollywood, and you saw 20 films last year that depicted a woman having only vaginal sex, only 1.6 of them would have actually had an orgasm. And that .6 was probably faking.
Because most women want and need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm, it is worrisome that so many people are exposed to images of women climaxing from a two-minute quickie in the bathroom at a party/front seat of a car/under a tree during a rainstorm. The APA states that only 50% of women come during a casual encounter, and only 80% as often as men. This disparity is called the orgasm gap, and it is influencing the way men and women interpret their own sexual experiences.
A 21-year-old reader told Mic, that “[she] would always wonder if [she] sounded ‘sexy enough’…or if [she] should make more noise because [her] partner might not realize [she] actually [enjoys] it.” Erica Marchand, a Los Angeles psychologist and sex therapist, calls this phenomenon “spectatoring” which is when we obsess about how our partner sees us during sex. While a certain level of concern is understandable for everyone, over thinking appearance can inhibit you from truly enjoying the experience. No one should feel a need to compete with a love scene from her favorite movie to satisfy a partner.
Perhaps it will take an industry overthrow by underrepresented female directors to shift the gaze away from effortless orgasms and ravishing orgasm faces. More equality behind the camera will hopefully translate into more realistic representations of female AND male pleasure, a shift away from the male gaze, and a variety of healthy sex acts for more educated, liberated audiences. Sounds like a win-win.
images c/o: giphy and theconversation.com