Ask any of your female friends—most of them will tell you that orgasming during sex is anything but guaranteed, and often less than expected. A partner bringing a female to orgasm is both shocking and celebrated. A story of a sex-capade of this caliber is vicariously experienced through friends of the lucky woman.

This is largely because female sexual pleasure has long been taboo, or unknown, or seen as unnecessary. Avoidance of this subject continues, and so does the idea that sex is an activity for males.

This outlook does more than leave women sexually unsatisfied. Ignoring a woman's capability to feel pleasure encourages the notion that they are merely vessels to be used by males to reach their orgasm. This is both emotionally damaging—as women define their worth as their ability to please a man, while disregarding their own desires—and physically dangerous.

Women are taught to be the objects by which a male can experience euphoria, and plied with the notion that women are weaker than men. These are opinions that already pervade our society’s understanding of sex. Add the idea that a woman’s pleasure isn’t necessary for sex to happen, and you begin to shape the foundations of rape culture. Rape culture is the idea that as a society, we let certain actions continue that fail to discourage forced sex.

In most sexual education classes today, even in more “progressive” areas, several barriers to effective teaching exist. First, parents are allowed to take their child out of the class, and have them enter puberty or even beyond without comprehensive sex education. This is dangerous for two reasons. Statistically speaking, individuals without sex ed, or knowledge of contraception are more likely to become pregnant or contract an STI; additionally, they are not more likely to abstain from sex. According to, the United States spent an overwhelming $1.5 billion on abstinence programs that are “proven to be ineffective”.

If a student is given the privilege of this less-than-adequate sex education, they are told that sex begins with a man becoming erect, and ends with him eventually ejactualing. This narrative is entirely one-sided. According to this sequence, sex relies solely on male biology and male pleasure. The woman has no voice or role in this narrative save for being the vehicle inside of which sex takes place. It is not important if she enjoyed the act, or was even cognizant of it; only that the man was able to reach orgasm.

Some people support this curriculum because they claim it is the most biologically correct and socially sensitive way to teach sex education. However, this is simply false. Even if we were to base our curricula on the idea that sex should only take place after marriage, and only to reproduce (in other words, strip the “tempting” pleasure from sex), this narrative fails to correctly inform students. The female orgasm is far from unnecessary. It is contraction of the uterine walls, which pulls any sperm that may be in the vagina towards the uterus, to increase the chance of pregnancy. Although a woman can get pregnant without finishing (as probably most children were created), it is an entirely valid and completely overlooked biological process. The dismissal of this fact contributes to the emphasis of the woman as a passive actor during sex.

This ideology becomes even more perilous for women and men in countries in which sex is even more taboo. By demonizing sex, both boys and girls are forced to live two lives—one in sexual desires are denied, and shamed, and one in which sexual desires are inevitably felt. Children are taught to fight or ignore these feelings, leading to cross-gender sexual repression.

How does this manifest itself in dangerous ways? For one, in states where religious-based terrorism is common, terrorist organizations use misleading ideas about sex to recruit young men. There is evidence of sexual deprivation leading to acts of terrorism.Where on earth, sexual pleasure is taboo for a young man, in the afterlife, or after martyrdom, they are promised access to women and their bodies.

According to Ian Buruma, professor of human rights at Bard College, “Sexual deprivation may be a factor in the current wave of suicidal violence, unleashed by the Palestinian cause as well as revolutionary Islamism.”  In the same vein, sexual deprivation has been proved to provoke violence in young men. Philip Obaji Jr. for The Daily Beast recently released an article about Boko Haram’s practice of teaching young boys in their area how to rape. They are encouraged to.

Obviously this is oversimplifying the relationship between sex and violence; Psychology Today facetiously explains that the fastest way to lower crime rate is to get young males, the most common offenders, “laid regularly”--and a sexually inactive man is just as responsible for his actions as a sexually satisfied man who commits a crime. Yet, it is important to realize that the current attempts--or lack thereof--at sexual education are sexually biased, encourage dangerous ideals about women’s sexual autonomy, and leave room for powerful religious and social institutions to persuade support from a vulnerable population of men.

The next generations of students need to understand that male and female sexual pleasure is quite similar. That sex is an equal act, and benefits both men and women. Simply validating sexual urges as they occur naturally still gives room for religious and societal traditions regarding sex.

There is also considerable evidence that a more total knowledge of sexual activity leads to safer practices such as using contraception, decreases the number of children per woman, and lowers the incidence of STIs. In countries in which women are still primarily caretakers, sexual and academic education decreases the number of kids they would have, and allows them to pursue a life of their own.

Students do not need to know how to have sex- that is certainly not the role of a teacher, but they do need to know how it works in its totality. Female sexual pleasure must cease to be hidden in shamed obscurity, thus making both men and women more sure of their equal sexual roles.


Naomi LichterComment