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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New Times: David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

The digital revolution has had two profound effects on how power is distributed – both of which squeeze the state's power.

Left-wing political parties exist to use the power of the state to rectify unjust distributions of power in society. What has gone wrong with this project? First, the political parties bit. Established parties everywhere are struggling to seem relevant to most people’s everyday concerns: they look increasingly like the tired relics of a more hierarchical age. The exception, of course, is the current Labour Party, which has opened itself up to become the biggest mass-membership party in Europe. But the trade-off has been to move away from seeing the acquisition of power as its primary purpose. These days parties can only really draw people in by offering to be vehicles for the expression of political resentment and disenchantment. But that is no way to rectify the causes of their resentment; neglecting the challenge of power usually ends up making things worse.

However, this is just a symptom of the wider problem, which is the changing nature of power. Technology lies at the heart of it. The digital revolution has had two profound effects on how power is distributed. First, it has empowered individuals, by providing them with unprecedented access to information, tools of communication and the means of expression. This is power exercised as choice: we all now have multiple ways of registering our likes and dislikes that never existed before.

Second, the digital revolution has empowered networks, creating vast new webs that span the globe. Some of them, such as Facebook, are close to being monopolies. We end up joining the networks that other people have joined, because that’s where the action is. This gives a small number of networks an awful lot of power.

Both of these developments are deeply problematic for the power of the state. The proliferation of choice makes citizens much harder to satisfy. Many of us have got used to micromanaging our lives in ways that leaves government looking flat-footed and unresponsive, no matter how hard it tries. At the same time, states face global networks that they have no idea how to control. International finance is one of these: money is information and information now has too many different ways to flow. States are getting squeezed.

The paradox is that the same forces that are squeezing the state are also giving impetus to left-wing politics. There are huge imbalances of power being created in networked societies. The monopolists are hoovering up money and influence. Personal connections count for more than ever, now that networked connections have become ubiquitous. Education is turning into a way of pulling up the drawbridge rather than moving up the ladder. One temptation for the left is to assume that the evidence of injustice will sooner or later outweigh the disabling effects of these social forces on the state. That is part of the Corbyn gamble: hang around until people are sufficiently pissed off to start demanding social-democratic solutions to their problems.

I don’t think this is going to happen. There is nothing to suggest that popular dissatisfaction will find its way back to the state as its best outlet. It will be channelled through the networks that are making the life of the state increasingly difficult.

The other temptation is to think that the left can achieve its goals by bypassing conventional social democracy and channelling its own ambitions into network politics. This is the other side of the Corbyn gamble, or at least the view of some of the people who have attached themselves to him: a new politics is coming that uses digital technology to mobilise fleet-footed networks of activists who can generate change without going through the cumbersome and time-consuming process of winning general elections. That also looks pretty wishful to me. These networks are just another vehicle for expressing personal preferences. They don’t have any means of changing the preferences of people who think differently. You need to win power to do that.

The state’s power is being squeezed by networks of empowered individuals, but these networks don’t have the kind of power necessary to do the redistributive work of the state. What is the left to do? It needs to try to find value in the fact that the state is not just another network. The right does this instinctively, by talking up the state’s security functions and championing ideas of sovereignty and national identity. But that does nothing to address the deleterious effects of living in a modern networked society, where we are swamped by personal choice but impotent in the face of corporate and financial power.

Rather than trying to harness the power of networks, the left should stand up for people against the dehumanising power of Big Data. The state isn’t Google and should not try to pretend to be. We don’t need more choice. We don’t need more efficiency of the kind that digital technology is endlessly supplying. We need protection from the mindless bureaucratic demands of the new machine age: the relentless pursuit of information, regardless of the human cost. There are limits to what the state can do but it retains some real power. It still employs real human beings; it educates them and provides them with welfare. It should do what is in its power to make the work tolerable and the education meaningful, to provide welfare in ways that don’t leave people at the mercy of faceless systems. The left needs to humanise the state.

At the moment, too much energy is being spent trying to humanise the party. We are told that people are tired of robotic, careerist politicians; they want unspun versions of people like themselves. But robotic politicians aren’t the problem; the coming age of robots is. While the party tries to feel more comfortable with itself, the effects of a networked society are running rampant. Acquiring the power of the state is still the best way to fight back. It doesn’t matter if that has to be done in an ugly, mechanised, artificial way, by careerist politicians with whom we wouldn’t choose to spend our personal time. Better an ugly, artificial politics than an ugly, artificial world. 

David Runciman is a professor of politics and the head of the department of politics and international studies at Cambridge

This article is part of a New Times collection of the future of the left. Read the other pieces here.

 

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times