Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux in “Blue is the Warmest Colour”.
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Five theories as to why lesbians are more likely to orgasm than straight women

A recent study by the Kinsey Institute has found that lesbians are much more likely to orgasm during sex than either straight or bisexual women.

Merry early Christmas, lesbians. According to a recent study, we’re more likely to orgasm during sex than our straight female friends. Researchers at the Kinsey Institute (yes, the scale guys) surveyed over 6,000 men and women about their sex lives and, boo-yah, the lesbians were revealed to be quite good at coming. Not as good as men, apparently, but still not at all bad. The survey found that the probability of a lesbian having an orgasm during sex with a familiar partner is 75 per cent, compared to 62 per cent for straight women and 58 per cent for bisexual women. While it’s mysterious that bi women came bottom, I’d suggest that a survey of a few thousand people isn’t exactly exhaustive. But still, here are my five theories as to why The Gays beat other women at orgasms. And please note, my only authority here is that I’m a lesbian who sometimes has sex.

 

Cunnilingus

An obvious one. When two women bump junk, the chance of oral sex being involved is high. According to a survey by vlogger Arielle Scarcella, straight women are less likely to be into it, or (possibly more accurately) their boyfriends aren’t all that forthcoming. Scarcella didn’t so much find that straight women prefer penetrative to oral sex, as that they’re socially conditioned not to expect or even ask for the latter. There are two problems here. Firstly, oral sex is fantastic. Seriously, straight women, if you’re not getting it, you should go on sex strike or something. Secondly, women have just got to be better at it. Would you rather be shown around an aquarium by a marine biologist or a postman? Please pick the marine biologist. Also, let her go down on you behind the shark tank.

 

Cynicism

Have you ever found yourself picking up sex tips from terrible porn? If you’re a lesbian, I bet you anything you haven’t. To real-life gay women, the majority of lesbian porn is laughable. No less silly, of course, than straight porn. When I was at uni, my housemates and I used to play something called (catchily) “The Inappropriate Porn Music Game”. This involved playing YouPorn videos on mute, while choosing our own soundtrack. The more incongruous, the better. I’d worked out that porn wasn’t always about sex, way before watching a man hump a microwave to “Video Killed The Radio Star”.

I find that lesbians (and women in general, for that matter) tend to be a lot more cynical towards the sex industry. This includes the ability to spot a stupid sex tip a mile off. Men, I’ve been led to believe, are more naïve.

 

Using our words

Lesbians love talking sex nearly as much as straight men enjoy talking Carling and novelty boxers. The only good sex advice I’ve ever had has been from other gay girls. Get pretty much any lesbian a bit drunk, and you’ll find that she has more opinions on fingering than you thought humanly possible. This converts to excellent (and seriously explicit) communication, bedroom-wise.

 

Equality

I’ve had more than one straight friend tell me about an ex-boyfriend who wasn’t interested in making her come. And, if a society that treats women as secondary is anything to go by, I imagine that this is a common problem. It’s hardly surprising for sexist power structures to slug their way into bedrooms. After all, how else would we produce fictional sex bastards like Christian Grey? Remove that socially ingrained interplay, as you can do with a lesbian couple, and you’re left with two people who dearly want to make each other’s genitals happy.

 

Sticking it to The Man

When you’re constantly told that lesbian sex isn’t “real”, or that it’s some kind of novelty, it’s hard not to want to do a bit of debunking. So when two women have sex, they’re partly proving a point, even if the whole of society isn’t peering in through the window and jotting down notes. And it turns out that wanting to prove a point is mightily conducive to doing something well.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

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Scientists have finally said it: alcohol causes cancer

Enough of "linked" and "attributable": a new paper concludes that alcohol directly causes seven types of cancer.

I don't blame you if you switch off completely at the words "causes cancer". If you pay attention to certain publications, everything from sunbeds, to fish, to not getting enough sun, can all cause cancer. But this time, it's worth listening.

The journal Addiction has published a paper that makes a simple, yet startling, claim: 

"Evidence can support the judgement that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx [part of the throat], larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and [female] breast"

So what's especially significant about this? 

First, scientists, unlike journalists, are very wary of the word "causes". It's hard to ever prove that one action directly led to another, rather than that both happened to occur within the same scenario. And yet Jennie Connor, author of the paper and professor in the Preventive and Social Medicine department at the University of Otago, New Zealand, has taken the leap.

Second, alcohol not only causes cancer of one kind – the evidence supports the claim that it causes cancer at seven different sites in our bodies. There was weaker evidence that it may also cause skin, prostate and pancreatic cancer, while the link between mouth cancers and alcohol consumption was the strongest. 

What did we know about alcohol and cancer before?

Many, many studies have "linked" cancer to alcohol, or argued that some cases may be "attributable" to alcohol consumption. 

This paper loooks back over a decade's worth of research into alcohol and cancer, and Connor concludes that all this evidence, taken together, proves that alcohol "increases the incidence of [cancer] in the population".

However, as Connor notes in her paper, "alcohol’s causal role is perceived to be more complex than tobacco's", partly because we still don't know exactly how alcohol causes cancer at these sites. Yet she argues that the evidence alone is enough to prove the cause, even if we don't know exactly how the "biologial mechanisms" work. 

Does this mean that drinking = cancer, then?

No. A causal link doesn't mean one thing always leads to the other. Also, cancer in these seven sites was shown to have what's called a "dose-response" relationship, which means the more you drink, the more you increase your chances of cancer.

On the bright side, scientists have also found that if you stop drinking altogether, you can reduce your chances back down again.

Are moderate drinkers off the hook?

Nope. Rather devastatingly, Connor notes that moderate drinkers bear a "considerable" portion of the cancer risk, and that targeting only heavy drinkers with alcohol risk reduction campaigns would have "limited" impact. 

What does this mean for public health? 

This is the tricky bit. In the paper, Connor points out that, given what we know about lung cancer and tobacco, the general advice is simply not to smoke. Now, a strong link proven over years of research may suggest the same about drinking, an activity society views as a bit risky but generally harmless.

Yet in 2012, it's estimated that alcohol-attributable cancers killed half a million people, which made up 5.8 per cent of cancer deaths worldwide. As we better understand the links between the two, it's possible that this proportion may turn out to be a lot higher. 

As she was doing the research, Connor commented:

"We've grown up with thinking cancer is very mysterious, we don't know what causes it and it's frightening, so to think that something as ordinary as drinking is associated with cancer I think is quite difficult."

What do we do now?

Drink less. The one semi-silver lining in the study is that the quantity of alcohol you consume has a real bearing on your risk of developing these cancers. 

On a wider scale, it looks like we need to recalibrate society's perspective on drinking. Drug campaigners have long pointed out that alcohol, while legal, is one of the most toxic and harmful drugs available  an argument that this study will bolster.

In January, England's chief medical officer Sally Davies introduced some of the strictest guidelines on alcohol consumption in the world, and later shocked a parliamentary hearing by saying that drinking could cause breast cancer.

"I would like people to take their choice knowing the issues," she told the hearing, "And do as I do when I reach for my glass of wine and think... do I want to raise my risk of breast cancer?"

Now, it's beginning to look like she was ahead of the curve. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.