orgasm gap hookup sex Hooking up has been the subject of a lot of media attention over the last few years. Most of it not good. Leaving aside those who insist that hooking up is leading women (but not men) down the merry road to hell, there is a far greater problem.

Seems, it may not be that much fun anyway -- at least not for the woman. According to an upcoming article in the Journal of Sex Research, many women find it difficult to negotiate cunnilingus with casual sex partners.

Laura Backstrom, Elizabeth Armstrong, and Jennifer Puentes conducted in-depth interviews with 43 participants. And found, in general, that muff diving was not an expected part of the hookup menu. Men mainly perform oral sex in relationships, not with a casual FWBs. This isn't a new finding. Elizabeth Armstrong has done previous research supporting the old adage "that it is better to give than to receive" is lost on the male member of most casual hookups.

Women are a far more likely to perform oral sex during a hookup than to receive it, which is one of the reasons that college age women report climaxing only one-third of the time in first time hook-ups, and no more than half the time in repeat hook-ups (more than one sexual encounter with the same person). Most women require direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, and oral sex is one of the most common ways women climax with a partner.

On the other hand, cunnilingus is an expected part of relationship sex, which is a thorn in the side of those women who don't like it. (And not everybody does). Backstrom, Armstrong, and Puentes pointed out that negotiating these issues can be a huge problem. In hookups, women who like receiving oral sex often had to be very assertive to get it. Nor, was this always successful.

The researchers argued that cultural shame regarding the female body and female sexual pleasure led to confusion and ambiguity about the place of cunnilingus in heterosexual sex. Especially, in a casual scenario. According to England:

“Women and men are more ambivalent about the importance of women’s sexual pleasure [outside] of relationships,” says England. “Our findings suggest that both women and men have absorbed a notion that women are entitled to sexual pleasure in a relationship, but not necessarily in casual scenarios.” 
 Plus, most men aren't that emotionally invested in a casual hookup, booty call, or random fuck, and therefore may not give a rat's rosy red one whether she gets anything out of it or not. One participant told Armstrong, in no uncertain terms, that "with his girlfriend, “definitely oral is really important [for her to orgasm],” but that with a casual hookup, “I don’t give a shit.”

Another young man echoed these cheery sentiments saying, “Now that I’m in a relationship, I think [her orgasm is] actually pretty important. More important than [in a] hookup. Because you have more invested in that person…When it’s a hookup you feel less investment.”


  1. Mistress L on December 8, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lilith on December 12, 2011 at 12:00 AM

    Thanks Mistress, anytime.

  3. Felix Bellaby on January 31, 2012 at 7:46 PM

    There may be dominance issues at work here.

    Oral sex is normally perceived as the dominant partner contributing the genitals and the submissive contributing the mouth. This is tied up with the idea that giving sexual pleasure is submissive and receiving dominant.

    An interpretation of fellatio as "properly" submissive and cunnilingus as "perversely" submissive is deeply rooted as well, going back to at least the Romans interpretation of cunnilingus as a form of "perverse penetration" and the very existence of the "penetrating" clitoris ("landica") as an ultimate taboo.

    The hook-up is also conceived in terms of dominance with the man hunting the woman, making the moves and "scoring" the date. The party perceived as dominant in establishing the hook-up then becomes the dominant party in the sexual encounter and the oral sex goes to the "winner".

    It would be interesting to conduct a study on who gets oral sex in hook-ups that controls for gender. For example, hook-ups between same sex couples or where the woman makes the first move.

    The extent of the bias in social norms would make it difficult to obtain a viable sample of individuals who interpret oral sex as mouth dominant, and perhaps especially in the case of heterosexual cunnilingus.

    It is perhaps extraordinary that the person with their teeth around your most sensitive parts is interpreted as being in the weaker position. Surely, it is the party in control of the others physical sensations who is dominant (as assumed in BDSM, be it pain or pleasure) and a partner who takes a dominant role by delaying pleasure and teasing is giving better oral sex than one trying to get it over with as quickly as possible.

    Unfortunately, conducting research into hook-ups with partners who give good head is frustratingly difficult!

    The above analysis of the original survey depends on the assumption that relationships have less clearly defined dominance roles than hook-ups. Whilst the need to commit might be expected to involve more give and take, long term relationships do involve dominance roles, ranging from the relatively mundane (washing up) to the truly horrific (physical and sexual abuse).

    Once again, survey data might provide insight into the connections between dominance and sexual roles in long term relationships.

    Unfortunately, the scarcity of well designed surveys into sex make even the simplest questions difficult to address. Whether data collected from Internet behaviour provides useful information remains a multi-billion dollar question.

  4. Lilith on January 31, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Hi Felix,

    Your comments reminded me of Susan Brownmiller's research on rape in the 1970s. She found that in prison situations the partner who was the receiver in fellatio was definitely perceived as the "little bitch", in a manner of speaking. Some how, for a guy in prison, taking dick in his mouth or up his ass was seen as feminine and hence demeaning.

    It is also true in some areas of Mexico, a man who is the "penetrator" during gay sex is not considered to be participating in a homosexual act, but the receiver of the penis is. We do indeed have very weird ways of thinking about these issues.

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