Lesbian women have more orgasms than their heterosexual and bisexual counterparts.

Hear that slut? That’s the sound of your desire being beaten into cultural shape. No matter your current sexual identification – queer, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, slut shaming is still thrown at women with the kind of gay abandon that would leave even the most hard-skinned woman bruised. Historically women have been presented as having less desire than men, as being naturally passive. But current research is turning that idea on its phallic head. Lesbian women have more orgasms than their heterosexual and bisexual counterparts. According to a 2009 study by Holmberg and Blair, they also experience more sexual desire than men and women in heterosexual relationships. When it comes to popular representations of women and desire, same-sex attracted women are often presented as pillow fighting against a backdrop of soft seductive music and blurry images of thighs and fingers entwined. It’s nice. But it’s also a male gaze that idealizes what men like to think women do in bed. It’s a fantasy of soft femininity meeting. One that doesn’t challenge long held views that male sexuality is active and female sexuality is passive. It’s no secret that lesbians like to fuck, despite the mythical claim that lesbian relationships will meet with the dreaded lesbian bed death. The narrative underneath the myth is that female desire meeting female desire has nowhere to go but the cemetery. I’m calling patriarchal bullshit.

An all female sexual research team Meredith Chivers and Amanda Timmers have found that despite cultural and historical evidence to the contrary, heterosexual identified women desire women and men with the same ferocity. Homosexual identified women report higher levels of same sex attraction as do homosexual men. What does this mean? Some say, like the doco Bi The Way that this is evidence that more bisexuals exist than western culture would like us to believe or want us to hear. If you’re not into labels, sexual fluidity is the new identity disclaimer. It says I’m not bisexual or lesbian or hetero, I go with the flow and I do who and what I want. Miley Cyrus claimed it, so did Lindsay Lohan, Cara Delevigne and most recently, Lily Rose-Depp. The problem, it seems, is the taboo of female desire that still lingers like the stench of a bar in your clothes the morning after. I teach in subjects at Melbourne University that explore gender and sexuality and not one of my female students to date has said that sex is important in a relationship when I’ve asked what they want, at least not initially. And when I say it’s really important to me, silence descends. What we know scientifically is that women’s sexual satisfaction is a predictor of general well-being and good mental health. Yet women as a whole in Australia and the United States, have fewer orgasms than men. In the U.S, heterosexual women orgasm 61.6% of the time, lesbian women 74.7% and bisexual women 58% of the time. Heterosexual men orgasm at rates of 85.5%, gay men at 84.7% and bisexual men at 77.6%. In Australia, in the last national survey in 2012, 92% of men and 66% of women had an orgasm and only 24% of women reported that they’d received oral sex which is the best way to make a woman cum.

So why aren’t women communicating what they want, how they want it and what feels good? Why aren’t they making sure their desire is met with pleasure? Women, at large, are taught consciously and unconsciously that to speak about sex openly is wrong, unfeminine, a cause to be called a slut. Female desire, after all the feminist critiques, is still spoken about in hushed tones and while men expect orgasm, on some level, women are taught not to. That it’s too much to ask for. It seems ones sexual identity, especially lesbian identity, acts as a kind of cultural protection against gendered ideas about sex. Lesbian women have to shunt the passive/active, masculine/feminine paradigm of heterosexuality by virtue of being lesbian. This means they subsequently have more space in which to perform their identities outside of preconceived ideas of what women do. They perform in ways that are not so bound by cultural expectation. Bisexual women are not so lucky. But the good news for the sexually fluid is that there’s a slow but visible cultural change that’s happening. We have SlutWalk’s, celebs coming out in unprecedented numbers, a strong lgbti activist base across the world and we’re asking questions so women might finally learn to shake off the shackles of staying quiet in order to please.