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Published: April 30, 2013
A recent survey among Zimbabwean heterosexual adults in the diaspora showed that on average women enjoyed one orgasm for every five that men did. The difference between these two figures is known as the orgasm gap and has been blamed for several relationship breakdowns (see graph below).
Questions regarding intimate practices were put to a group of Zimbabweans living in Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. While the males responded that they were largely satisfied with their sex lives the women said they were less so.
The data in the below graph was taken from a sample of 20 Zimbabwean female, and 15 male volunteers whose orgasms were quantified over a period of 3 months.
The issue with many diaspora couples is that they left Zimbabwe where they were professionals with a maid at home. In the countries they settled in they took on employment at lower levels than they were accustomed to which caused frustration. They did shift work which meant they spent less time at home with the family. The absence of a maid meant that the woman did most if not all the house work.
Zimbabwean men on the other hand expected to be waited on hand and foot as was the norm back home. At work they experienced a lot of frustration at being lowly paid and undervalued. At times it was hard to find work and the women became breadwinners. When it came to sex it became more about stress relief than showing love to their partners.
This lifestyle coupled with exposure to work colleagues and friends who got help from their husbands and boyfriends around the house led Zimbabwean women to an overall dissatisfaction with their lot.
Then came salacious bedroom stories that they heard their counterparts tell at work and social gatherings. Zimbabwean women came to the realisation that their men were simply not pulling their weight.
When the women spoke up about improving their sex lives some men felt the woman was being “too demanding”. This indifference by men led to frequent arguments about petty things. Gertrude* who tried to get her husband to pleasure her was beaten and interrogated by an outraged husband who demanded to know where she “learnt this from?” One frequent complaint of women surveyed was the mental rigidity of their partners to learning or trying new things in the bedroom.
Myths of The Female Orgasm
The biggest reason given for this wide orgasm gap is some men believe that women’s bodies are somehow bad at orgasms or too “complicated” to achieve them. Other myths used to perpetuate this unsatisfactory state of affairs are that women don’t need orgasms as much as men do or women are “giving by nature”. The worst myth being perpetuated is that “women have difficulty reaching orgasm through masturbation anyway.”
These anatomical mischaracterisations have led to a lackadaisical attitude of epidemic proportions towards the pleasure of women in the bedroom.
A study showed that it takes both men and women 4 minutes to climax while masturbating. It should also be noted that women who masturbate achieve orgasm almost 100% of the time.
While married women or women in long-term relationships experienced three times more orgasms with their partners than single women they are in no way as satisfied as their male counterparts.
Several married women openly admitted to seeking sexual gratification outside their marriages and long-term partnerships. A frustrated Selina* said “Audrey, I tried everything, couples’ getaways, videos etc. I tried talking to him and even went to the extent showing him what I needed but he is hell bent on not changing his ways.” Thelma* a demure nurse shared that she even solicited her church’s counselling services but to no avail. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” she said with a resigned sigh.
Single women who engage in casual sex seem to be the hardest hit (no pun intended). They experience much fewer orgasms in their encounters. I asked some gentlemen why they didn’t seem to bring their best moves to the bedroom in a casual setting and the answer was universal. In a casual hook-up the man doesn’t care about the woman’s pleasure, its all about him.
Many sexologists agree that the sexual activities likely to cause orgasm in females like oral sex and genital stimulation by touch are not considered sex but foreplay. This “foreplay” is optional or non-existent in many cases.
Some women have left their unsatisfactory unions in droves. Lynette* who is now happily married to a local man describes her divorce as “the best thing that has happened” to her. This was a sentiment echoed by several other female divorcees.
Unsatisfactory sex lives, poor communication coupled with other social influences have led to the demise of many relationships in the diaspora.
*Names have been changed for privacy.