A new documentary looks at why young women often struggle to orgasm. For many, it means going back to their first experience with sex.
Re: contributor Gal Hochman speaks to seven women involved about the orgasm gap.
Tayla wants all women to hear it straight and be open about topics considered taboo or embarrassing.
"There's been years of women being embarrassed about masturbating, about wanting orgasms, about wanting sex in general,” she says.
“From a young, young age I was masturbating and no one ever talked about it.
“Even still my friends are like 'you can't talk about it'. You definitely can, let's shout it from the rooftops. Absolutely. What did you do last night? I went home and I fucked myself and it was divine,” Tayla says.
Kerry-Leigh says oral sex is an "integral part of the sexual experience". She was sexually active for 10 years before having her first orgasm at 23 with a partner.
"It was very confusing and frustrating and I couldn't understand why people made such a fuss about sex," she says.
When she didn’t orgasm, she’d often fake it. "I think the reason for faking is not wanting the person I'm having the sexual experience with to feel bad, and also not feeling totally comfortable with expressing what I want and need."
Now, Kerry-Leigh is at ease with her sexual experiences, she knows what she likes and needs from her sexual partner.
"For me somebody going down on me is wonderful. I'm like 'take all the time'.”
For Niamh, masturbation is more than just getting off - it’s about reconnecting with herself. During a period on anti-depressants, she was unable to orgasm.
"I felt quite sad and overwhelmed and confused and lost, particularly given that the medication that I was on was trying to help with these feelings."
Self-care, especially in times where someone’s low, is important, she says,
"I think it's really important to even take yourself on a date and go out for dinner, get dressed up, put on a bit of lipstick - whatever makes you happy. Take yourself home, put on some music, light a candle and make love with yourself.”
"It is self-care, it's sex-care, it's so important. And even saying that out loud right now, it's like 'oh my god, you go on a date with yourself? You make love to yourself? Like come on, get a partner'. But it's like 'nah it's not weird, it's important.'”
Dasha is yet to experience the full sensation of an orgasm.
She says it often comes back to partners being unwilling to engage in the true mutuality of sex.
"Once, I was hooking up with this guy and he would not go down on me. We'd had sex three times and he just skipped that part.
“And that's the fundamentals baby. And I asked him: ’Do you mind me asking why you never give more loving to this area?’”
"And he looked very freaked out and he asked me: 'Where's your clitoris? Can you help me find the clitoris?’
It was a bit surreal, knowing a 24-year-old didn’t know how to find a clitoris, Dasha says.
Anjelica was raped two years ago. Since then, sex has often triggered feelings of pain and trauma. Speaking out has been critical to healing, she says.
"There's women out there who've survived trauma, like me, like a lot of us. So many women I know go through heinous things like rape and it's not okay, and it's time for us to start speaking about it because it's fucking time.
“We've got to end this shit. We're going to end this shit by talking about it."
An orgasm for Stasia is "pure love and pure ecstasy" - but like other women, it often doesn’t happen. She’s also been on antidepressants, which makes things more challenging.
"It can be kind of disappointing… when you go into a sexual experience and you're wanting that release and then it doesn't happen.
"Previously I've been on antidepressants so that alone is a massive inhibitor of the ability to orgasm. But also I've had just not-so-great experiences either, just lack of communication or not actually knowing what it was that I liked," she says.
Foreplay and oral sex are essential, she says.
"Anytime you go straight for it, chances are you're going to have a bad time or there isn't going to be enough lubricant for it to actually be pleasurable for either partner, particularly in a heterosexual engagement."
"Bad head is a bad time but if you can incorporate oral sex into foreplay then I'm all about it," Stasia says.
Britnye believes women are often too focused on trying to please their partners, often at the detriment of their own sexual pleasure.
"I didn't enjoy sex and I didn't cum for a long time because I was so worried about making them cum,” she says.
"I used to put my sexual partner first, all the time, until recently."
Focusing on herself, and saying what she wants, has really made a difference.
"Now I'm just like 'I want this, this and this. So listen to me and then I'll listen to you.’ "
Women are beautiful in every shape and form, and if the chemistry is there then nothing else matters, Britnye says.
These women feature in the documentary Young and Can’t come, episode two of our new documentary series Young And.
The Young And documentaries look at what it’s really like to be in your 20s in Aotearoa. From the stories of young people who lived on Auckland’s streets as teens to what it means to sit on the paepae as young Māori men, we take an honest look at issues around sexuality, culture, gender and social identity.
Watch Young and Can’t Come here.
See other Young and episodes here.
Made with support from NZ On Air.