Penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) is the most common partnered (hetero)sexual behaviour in North America. Many women participate in PVI but do not acquire the clitoral stimulation they may need to orgasm as desired resulting in a gender-based orgasm gap during partnered sex. This phenomenological study situates itself at the intersection of sexological studies, which validate the importance of the clitoris (e.g. Kinsey and colleagues; Hite), and feminist scholarship that explores the problem of a sexual script constructed in a patriarchy that largely devalues the clitoris (e.g. Koedt; Boston Women's Health Collective) in interrogating and describing solutions to inequitable orgasm experiences during PVI. In this study, 15 cisgender women, who do not orgasm from PVI alone, shared in semi-structured interviews how they acquire orgasmic clitoral stimulation during PVI. Four partners, who were cisgender men, were also interviewed and their perspectives were included when they added greater detail to the primary participants' experiences. Fourteen out of the 15 women learned to induce orgasm during masturbation before experiencing their first orgasm during PVI. Masturbatory experiences helped participants learn effective stimulation techniques. Women then communicated these preferences to partners or self-stimulated during PVI. Orgasmic stimulation was achieved by either stimulating the clitoris against the male body or by creating space around the clitoris (2-3") where preferred stimulation could occur. No two women had the same preferred clitoral stimulation technique. Understanding that one's preferred stimulation technique is likely different and nuanced from others may be key to effective partner communication.


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pp. 68-80
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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