What Women Want Men to Know About Sex
on 12 Mar 2021
Tracey Cox is a best-selling author and sex columnist. Here, she writes an open letter to heterosexual men (on behalf of all vulva owners) on the eight things they need to know to become better lovers.
I’m all for helping men understand women better, and vice versa. So, in the spirit of International Women’s Day, here’s an open letter - to all men, on behalf of women - detailing everything we wish you knew about us and sex.
About Our Libido
There are three myths about women and sex that the majority of people – and especially men - think are true. The first is that men have a higher sex drive than women. The second is that monogamy is harder for men than it is for women, and the third is that men get bored with routine sex quicker than women do.
All of these statements are false.
Recent research suggests female desire is completely different to what we once thought. It doesn’t like tame, it likes risk. It doesn’t want romance, it wants lust. Female desire is primal. Way, way more primal than society believes.
We do say no to sex more often than you do, but it’s not because our libidos are low. It’s because we’re not given permission to explore our ‘dirty’ side, like you are. Take away the cultural restraints, it turns out, and women would be at it like rabbits.
With one proviso. The sex has to be erotic and it has to be exciting.
Give us boring, dull, repetitive sex and you bet we’ll turn to face to wall. Give us interesting, edgy, erotic sex, however, and we’ll be well up for it.
Research by Lovehoney found a third of women have broken up with a lover to improve their sexual happiness, compared to just a fifth of men.
So, contrary to popular belief, being good in bed is more important to women than men, not less.
About Our Bodies
The clitoris is the only organ in the human body designed specifically and purely for pleasure. The head has more nerve endings per square inch than any other part of the human anatomy, and two to four times more than the head of a penis. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that little gloat!)
You can see some of the clitoris: the pea-sized tip is called the glans (head). Most men think this is the clitoris, but it’s not. Hidden from view are other bits.
Imagine the clitoris as an eagle, perched at the top end of the vulva, with the shaft as the bird’s body and its wings spread to straddle both sides.These wings are called clitoral legs and they’re made of erectile tissue, which means they pump full of blood - just like your penis does, when we’re aroused. The legs are about two to three and a half inches long and run down the sides.
But, wait there’s more: there are also clitoral bulbs of erectile tissue underneath the inner lips of the labia.
This is all extremely good news because it means, rather than one tiny area, there’s lots you can stimulate – either directly or indirectly.
Try making an ‘L’ shape with your hand and pressing it firmly up against the perineum (the hairless bit between the vaginal opening and anus), the next time you’re giving us oral sex.
About Our Orgasms
We talk a lot about how difficult it is for women to orgasm. But the fact is, most women can orgasm in five minutes or less given the right technique, lover or tool (namely one that vibrates).
With skill, sensitivity and practice, female orgasm can be as easy to achieve as yours is.
What doesn’t work to make women orgasm is the bog-standard thrusting technique nearly all men use during intercourse. All orgasms originate from the clitoris and that does nothing to stimulate it.
The hidden parts of the clitoris (picture that eagle) can be stimulated by keeping your pelvis close to ours, maintaining pressure, and using a circular grinding motion against the pelvis.
This vulva-friendly manoeuvre is far more effective at taking us through to orgasm. Even better, though, is using your tongue or fingers or a vibrator, before, during or after penetrative sex.
About Faking It
Yes, one of your previous partners (if not most) have done it and no, you couldn’t and can’t tell. Recent research has proven, yet again, that it is impossible to definitely know if a woman has had an orgasm.
There are some clues: a flushed face, a red rash that can appear and disappear quickly on the chest or neck, vaginal contractions, a rapid heart rate and a clitoris that’s sensitive to touch directly afterward are some of the signs.
But they’re not reliable.
The only way to guarantee she’s having a real orgasm and not faking one is to make it abundantly clear it won’t be an issue if she doesn’t orgasm.
Not in a ‘I know it’s really difficult for women’ way - you already know that isn’t true. But an acknowledgment that you are aware women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
To make it happen, give us lots of (good) oral sex that lasts a while. Touch us expertly with (lubed up) fingers. Show just how comfortable you are with yourself by being the one to suggest using a vibrator during intercourse.
Then shut up for a bit. Nothing worse than being on the brink and you choosing that moment to pop back up, looking expectant and asking, ‘Do you think it’s going to happen soon?’
About Our Individuality
What worked on Mary, might not work on us. Even if it worked on Marion and Macy as well.
We probably won’t like everything that your last girlfriend did.
True, there are some generalisations that can be made, that allow people like me to give you tips on how to be a great lover. For instance, most women prefer it if you touch her half as hard as you liked to be touched yourself, and at half the speed.
But the emphasis is always on the ‘most’. Some women love being touched hard and fast.
Start by doing what’s worked in the past but always, always, get feedback and ask her to guide you on how she likes being touched and what works for her.
We are all individual in our likes and dislikes. This is why, when we do give you feedback, you shouldn’t get all funny about it and think it’s a criticism of your technique.
Men bond through action, by doing things for women. Women bond with words.
Fact: If you want great sex, you’re going to have to talk to us - even more importantly, listen.
‘Not being heard or listened to’ has remained one of the top three complaints women have about men in the entire 30 years I have been writing about sex and relationships.
Talk is foreplay for us. It’s probably why a romantic dinner for two is still the standard 'proper' date for most couples when they first meet.
It forces you to look at us, pay attention to us and talk to us. Which is what puts us in the mood for the sex that may follow.
Two things you really need to know here:
Just because we aren’t ‘wet’, doesn’t mean we aren’t aroused.
Vaginal dryness is caused by many factors that have nothing to do with you.
Where we’re on our menstrual cycle, how hydrated we are, how much alcohol we drank the night before, stress, smoking – this (and many more things) can affect how well lubricated we are.
Most men understand this but there are quite a few who don’t.
I was shocked - and didn’t really believe it - the first time I was told by a woman that her man was ‘deeply insulted’ when he found out she’d dared to use some personal lubricant before a sex session.
“He said it was ‘cheating’ and that he obviously didn’t turn me on if I needed that.”
Since then, I’ve heard it repeated several times.
I really hope I don’t know any men who would be stupid enough to judge a woman for supplementing her natural lubrication, or suggest she wasn’t a ‘real woman’ for doing so. It’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.
Lube increases our enjoyment of all things sexual. It can turn a so-so hand-job into something amazing; change intercourse from painful or uncomfortable into pleasurable. Why on earth would you want to stop us using it?
Porn is entertainment. It’s not sex education. It is not a private glimpse into what women ‘really’ want.
Here’s some of the stupid lessons porn teaches men about sex:
That foreplay is all about her giving you a BJ.
That saliva works as well as lube does.
That all women get off on being called a ‘bitch’ or a ‘whore’.
That threesomes are the norm.
That all women like you to be really rough.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Another thing you might not know: loads of women watch porn, too. So, we know when you’re imitating something you’ve seen in porn rather than making a real connection with us.
See the person, not just the bits. We know the difference.