New research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior investigated if women’s sexist attitudes influenced how often they experienced an orgasm.
“At present, we do not have a good understanding of how our ideologies may form a basis for how we think about sex, and what we perceive to be sexually desirable, undesirable, appropriate, or inappropriate,” wrote Emily Ann Harris, Matthew J. Hornsey and Fiona Kate Barlow, the authors of the study. “It is therefore important for future research to expand its scope in order to investigate how ideologies function to constrain or enhance our sexual experience.”
The research examined a concept known as benevolent sexism, which is based on Ambivalent Sexism Theory. The theory holds that prejudicial views of women can be grouped into two main categories: hostile sexism and benevolent sexism.
Hostile sexism describes the overt dislike of women. Benevolent sexism, on the other hand, describes the belief that women are nurturing and gentle, but cannot function properly without help from a strong male partner. “Benevolent sexism assumes female passivity and romanticizes the belief that women should be reliant on men,” the authors explained.
The researchers found an indirect relationship between benevolent sexism and orgasm frequency. Women who endorsed benevolent sexism — such as the view that “women need to be protected by men” — tended to also believe that men were sexually selfish. Women who believed men to be sexual selfish, in turn, tended to be less likely to ask their partner for pleasure, which was associated with less frequent orgasms.
So do women who endorse benevolent sexism climax less often? That doesn’t appear to be the case.
The researchers were unable to find a direct correlation between benevolent sexism and orgasm frequency. Overall, women who endorsed benevolent sexism were no more or less likely to orgasm than women who did not.
Harris and her colleagues said another factor associated with benevolent sexism could be counteracting the indirect relationship they found. Women who endorse benevolent sexism, they said, could have more masculine partners “consistent with their preferences for traditional gender roles.” Prior research has found that women find it easier to orgasm with a more masculine partner. It is also possible that women who endorse benevolent sexism feel obligated to have sex with their partner, resulting in more frequent sex and more frequent orgasms.
In other words, women who endorse benevolent sexism appear to be less likely to ask their partner for pleasure, which results in fewer orgasms. But endorsing benevolent sexism could also lead to women having more masculine partners or having more sex, which would bump their orgasm frequency up to average — or above.
The study consisted of two separate surveys and included a total of 1,393 women in heterosexual relationships. It was titled: “On the Link Between Benevolent Sexism and Orgasm Frequency in Heterosexual Women.”