The Orgasm Hierarchy : Embracing the Clitoris

by | May 23, 2023 | Let's talk about Sex

Are you a vulva owner and prefer a clitoral orgasm? Have you ever referred to fingering or oral sex as “doing bits’ ‘ rather than just simply sex?

For people with vulvas, pleasure generally comes from clitoral stimulation. This can be when we are with somebody else, or just on our own. Even in partnered sex, they can be seen as “less worthy” than a penetrative orgasm.

But why do we dismiss masturbation and clitoral orgasms in general? Well, we can place a fair amount of the blame onto the orgasm hierarchy.

“It’s the societally taught idea that some orgasms are better than other orgasms,” said queer sex educator, Tara Jones.  “It often puts partnered sex above self pleasure. Certain types of partnered, sex above others, like oral sex is also seen as not real sex or using your hands is not seen as real sex.”

Queer Sex educator, Tara Michaela, on #nationalorgasmday

“The only thing that’s considered real sex to be penetrative sex specifically which assists heteronormative lens of penis in vagina sex.”

READ: Curious About Using Sex Toys with Your Partner? – Floozy

History of the Clitoral Orgasm

The orgasm hierarchy myth partly came from Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology. He saw “clitoral orgasms” as “immature” and “vaginal orgasms” as “mature.” His theory was not based on evidence or research, and it was based in ignorance of the female anatomy.

“We’ve ignored the clitoris for way too long”

tARA JONES

The orgasm hierarchy also stems from a culture that lacks adequate and accurate representation of sex.

Image of psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud

What is the issue?

The problem with an orgasm hierarchy is that people often do not feel as though they are experiencing sex “the right way”. Because sex doesn’t happen the way that they see in porn, and it gives us unrealistic expectations of what sex should be.

“It implies that penis and vagina sex is the only real sex when so many people with vulvas are not orgasming from it. It’s completely male centred,” said Tara.

“It also excludes the fact that queer people even have sex at all”.

It’s a societal issue, but then it gets internalised by a lot of us even in the way that we speak. When most people say sex, they mean penetration and that’s not all sex, can be. 

“Sex is an umbrella term. It is a super individual term. We can define it for ourselves. It can be about orgasm, it can be about pleasure, it can be about anything. And I think there’s so much more freedom and beauty in that.”

It can be especially damaging in the way that we view self pleasure and masturbation.

“Sex is an umbrella term. It is a super individual term. We can define it for ourselves”

Tara JONES

“The orgasms you give yourself, even though so many folks report being the best orgasms that they have, especially folks with vulvas, are seen at the bottom of the orgasm hierarchy because it’s something that you shouldn’t need to do”.

Our Sex Education

A lot of this pressure can also come from our sex education, or lack thereof.

“We don’t know our own anatomy, we don’t know the names of the different bits. We’ve ignored the clitoris for way too long. We’ve ignored a lot about the vulva for way too long and it’s pretty upsetting.”

The clitoris is the only part of your body that is solely responsible for pleasure. 10,000 nerve endings, like come on, why are we never taught that? Tara thinks there’s stigma there too.

“It’s not only our masturbation”, she says, “but it’s also just like our anatomy. You have this idea that it’s more intimate to go down on somebody who has a vulva than to go down on somebody who has a penis and it’s like that doesn’t inherently make any sense. Usually when you’re in a sex education course, and you’re being taught about anatomy, you get the full biological male anatomy, you’re seeing everything.

When it comes to people who are assigned female at birth, you’re getting the fallopian tubes, you’re getting the ovaries, you’re getting everything about reproduction. The intrinsic messaging that that sends is that sex for women is about reproduction and it’s not about pleasure or else we’d be talking about the clitoris.”

The moral of the story is, if you have a clitoris, love that clitoris. If you are with someone who has a clitoris, then love your partners. It can be a powerful tool in sex and should not be belittled by the so-called “orgasm hierarchy”.

No thanks Freud, we’re going to leave that theory back where we found it.

Edited by Mmesoma Muogilim

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