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Women are having fewer orgasms than men. But why?

Pornography can be the cause and the solution to fixing the Pleasure Gap.

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The orgasm has been called many things: a little death, heaven, high tide. No matter what you call it, an orgasm is, basically, a rush of endorphins and pleasure stemming from genitalia stimulus. The orgasm is a deeply beautiful and incredibly beneficial human reaction, but not everyone gets to experience them equally: Women are having fewer orgasms than men when they have sex with men.

Pornography and sexualized imagery is a readily accessible medium that can be clicked into by anyone at any given time. Because it is widely available—and sex education isn’t—we as humans emulate what we see as the norm. Far too often, male orgasm is the purpose of most heterosexual pornographic videos with women’s pleasure residing in niche categories.

With accessible imagery that props up men’s orgasms as a must-have and women’s as nonexistent—along with a lack of sex education—the consumer internalizes this messaging and acts upon it as the norm. Does life really imitate art? It sure can. In a 2018 study of newlywed heterosexual couples, 87 percent of men reported consistently experiencing orgasms, compared to only 49 percent of women.

The Pleasure Gap

This is what we call The Pleasure Gap, i.e., the disparity between cisgender men and women in terms of sexual satisfaction. Sure, anyone could point to the female orgasm being harder or more difficult to achieve based being nonexistent in porn, feature films, and television shows, but truly it’s just a lack of representation as the male and female orgasm takes just as much effort to achieve when engaging in solo play: 4 minutes.

There is another overarching issue at play: the race for clicks in the porn industry and the development of shock-value porn that doesn’t include consent or women’s pleasure to be prioritized. As the race continues, we are further excluding women and creating an unhealthy sexual cycle of aggressive porn that seeps into our learned behavior.

So, if the female orgasm isn’t as elusive as it seems and if there are issues within a fast-paced porn industry, what is the solve? How can we nix the shortage in female orgasms? While pornography can be part of the problem, it can also be part of the solution. Bellesa is an online platform focused on female sexuality that’s aiming to challenge the expectation of what sex “should” look like, through porn that prioritizes female pleasure, sex education, erotic stories, and sex toys sold through Bellesa Boutique.

Amazing, right? We are on track to stopping the Pleasure Gap by showing more female pleasure in pornography, thus building a bridge to a more realistic, equal, and educational experience. Research suggests that people tend to mirror the sex acts they see depicted in porn. And when it comes to sex ed, 30 percent of teenagers in one study reported that porn was their primary source of sex education.

So when most mainstream, easily accessible porn focuses on male pleasure and shows men having 65 percent more orgasms and receiving more oral sex than women, real-life sex starts ignoring female pleasure too. And that’s how sex becomes synonymous with penetrative, penis-in-vagina intercourse, and other sex acts that focus on female pleasure get ignored. If life imitates art, pornographic art has the power to change female sexual wellness.

The Masturbation Gap

But there are other concerns: The Masturbation Gap. According to one study, 25 percent of male respondents reported masturbating almost every day, compared to 8.7 percent of women; 21.8 percent of women reported having never masturbated in their lifetime, compared to only 8.2 percent of men. The why behind these numbers can be pointed to how we see female pleasure and how women have been taught to interact with and care for their genitalia—often told not to touch.

It’s a shame, really. Masturbation is not only healthy, it’s a major part of wellness. Masturbation can lower stress, raise concentration, and aid in better sleep patterns. The sex toy industry has a market size of $9.1 billion, continuously innovating on new ways for people of different preferences and sensitivity levels to experience pleasure on their own terms – a chief mission of Bellesa Boutique (which currently sits as the #1 rated sex toy store online).

By focusing on female pleasure in porn and allowing that content to drive sex education with realistic sex scenes, companies like Bellesa are working to close the Pleasure Gap—as well as providing a visual topography of female pleasure. Bellesa Plus and its original content from Bellesa House and Bellesa Films allow users to have access to content they want without compromising anyone’s pleasure for clicks.