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Partner gender plays a role in how women approach sex, likelihood to reach orgasm

Women had higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasm with a female partner compared to a male partner. Meaning, women anticipate different sexual acts based on their partner’s gender.

Photo by Yohann LIBOT from Unsplash.com

Women reported significantly higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasm with a female partner compared to a male partner. This suggests that women anticipate different sexual acts based on their partner’s gender.

This is according to a study – “The Role of Partner Gender: How Sexual Expectations Shape the Pursuit of an Orgasm Goal for Heterosexual, Lesbian, and Bisexual Women” by Kate Dickman, Grace M. Wetzel, and Diana T. Sanchez – that appeared in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

In truth, previous research has established the existence of an “orgasm gap,” where cisgender women are less likely to achieve orgasm during partnered sex compared to cisgender men. And so this new study wanted to delve deeper by investigating how a partner’s gender shapes women’s expectations and ultimately, their pursuit of orgasm.

Here, the researchers compared lesbian and heterosexual women’s experience with their most recent partner in Study 1, and experimentally compared bisexual women partnered with a woman or a man in a hypothetical sexual encounter in Study 2.

The study found in two samples that, yes, women had significantly higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasm when with a female partner, suggesting that women anticipate different sexual acts based on their partner’s gender.

Other findings:

  • Partner gender had a significant indirect effect on women’s orgasm pursuit. This means that partner gender influenced women’s likelihood of pursuing orgasm through the mediating factors of clitoral stimulation and expectations for orgasm. In simpler terms, when women anticipated having sex with a female partner, they reported both higher expectations for clitoral stimulation and orgasm, which made them more likely to actively pursue orgasm themselves.

These findings suggest that dominant sexual scripts, which vary based on partner gender, may contribute to the orgasm gap by shaping women’s expectations and behaviors during sex, stressed the researchers.

Co-author Wetzel added: “This research contributes to understanding gender disparities and inequities. It also sheds light on why the orgasm gap exists—specifically, how different expectations for sex with men and women can explain these differences.”

Wetzel noted that the results could be interpreted to mean that sex with men is intrinsically worse than sex with women, but this is not necessarily the case. “The problem is not inherent to men or to being heterosexual, but to the dominant sexual scripts associated with heterosexual sex. Sexual scripts are flexible and can be changed.”

While acknowledging the importance of addressing the orgasm gap, Dickman concluded: “This study is just one piece of a larger conversation about gender disparities. Orgasm is just one aspect of sexual satisfaction, and this research should not be misinterpreted as suggesting that orgasm is the sole measure of a fulfilling sexual experience.”

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