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The Scarlet Letters: The Un-Frigid Woman and a Question of Cheating

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


In this week’s column, we address a woman who can’t have an orgasm from intercourse alone and a man whose wife seems to be having a lot more orgasms alone than with him. Questions, comments, rant? Write us at [email protected].

The Decidedly Un-Freaky Freak

Dear Scarlets,

I do not have orgasms from penis-in-vagina sex. I just don’t. I’ve tried, but I need direct clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm. I can have an orgasm with penetration as long as something is doing the right thing by my clitoris, but penetration alone does not do it.

Which is fine. Isn’t it? That seems to be how I’m built, but so far my male partners seem to think I’m a freak. I’m 23 and have had four partners, also in their 20s. They all seemed disappointed by my lack of orgasmic response to their mighty dicks, and one even went so far as to ask me what was wrong with me. Like I have a disease or defect. Do I? 

I never hear other women talk about this and I’m embarrassed that I’m doing something wrong. Is there something I don’t know?

Thanks for the help.


Penis Isn’t Enough

Dear PIE,

God, we hate porn. And by that we mean, we sometimes love porn when we need it, but overall, we think porn's probably done more damage than good. Mostly in the "what do women like?" department. if you're a big porn aficionado, for instance, you might believe that all women enjoy being pounded within an inch of their lives by your lengthy (or girthy!) dick, and that if you're doing it right, they'll do a lot of screaming and begging and very possibly calling you "Daddy." Not so.*

There's nothing wrong with you. Or, we should say, there might be many things wrong with you...like, you could be rude to waiters or pronounce espresso "expresso"...we don't know. But what we DO know is that not having an orgasm solely from penis-in-vagina sex (PIV) is not a defect. It's widely thought to be the norm. (Statistics say around 75% of women and that’s being conservative.)

In 1970, a feminist by the name of Anne Koedt wrote an article called "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm." In it, she laments the fact that for decades, women were considered "frigid" if they couldn't have a vaginal orgasm. But, it turns out, actually having what's considered a "vaginal orgasm" can be quite difficult. In fact, Koedt considered it impossible.

There are only 1,000 nerve endings in the entire vagina, compared to 6,000 in the clitoris alone. This, combined with the fact that the majority of the nerve endings in the vaginal walls are "non erotogenic" (i.e. incapable of causing sexual arousal), means that if you're trying trying to have an orgasm just by getting fucked...well, you're fucked.


If it's really important to you, you can train yourself to have an orgasm through PIV sex if your partner can figure out how to stimulate your g-spot with his penis while simultaneously stimulating the head of your clitoris. Sounds easy enough, right?

The g-spot, as we’ve covered in this space in the past, is generally located on the front wall of the vagina if a woman is facing up, behind the clitoral head and back probably a finger’s length. According to this Live Science article, "the front wall of the vagina is inextricably linked with the internal parts of the clitoris." Meaning that the clitoris, much like the erotogenic tissue of the penis, actually extends a lot further back than we think it does. (Following that logic, even if a woman believes she's having a vaginal orgasm, she's probably really having a clitoral one....but let's let that one go for the sake of space here.)

So, the g-spot could be a bundle of nerves extending from the clitoris, or, as some others believe, the location of the glands that produce lubrication, which may be analogous to the prostate gland in men. 

Whatever it is, many women have been known to have extremely powerful orgasms when it’s stimulated (usually when their partner uses two fingers to create a “come hither” motion while stimulating the head of the clitoris at the same time, as we mentioned earlier). More often than not, the g-spot is associated with “squirting,” which we absolutely believe is a thing and nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not peeing on your partner. 


So if you really want to see what a vaginal orgasm feels like, it’s possible, and you should encourage your partners to try to help you achieve one. But if you don’t, then DON’T. Your problem isn’t that you’re a freak, your problem is that your partners have, so far, been misinformed, unskilled and insensitive. That feels like more of a problem than your sexual one (which is essentially nonexistent, because you’re orgasmic.) Why are you dating such assholes? Do you work at Abercrombie and Fitch or something?

So the next suitor who asks you what’s wrong with you because he wasn’t able to make you come, please refer him to this article, or the literally thousands of other articles written about women’s inability to orgasm from intercourse alone. And never, under any circumstances, make him come again. 

Best of luck and many orgasms of all kinds in the future,

The Scarlets

*At least not all the time. Maybe a couple times a year, just to clean the sexual palate.

The Amorous Gamer

Dear Scarlets,

I’ve been married to my wife for eight years and I think she’s cheating. Well, I’m not sure if it’s CHEATING cheating, but I’m hoping you can be the judge(s) of that.

They met about three months ago while playing Halo online. From what I can glean from their messages, I guess she saved his life with an energy sword or something and he felt indebted to her so they started “chatting.” He lives in Minneapolis with a wife and a kid and we live in Beaverton so I don’t think it’ll ever actually go anywhere IRL, but their relationship online so far is everything but “I love you.” And there’s lots of described sex acts so I assume lots of virtual masturbation.

She spends more time with him than with me, and their time together is much more intense because they’re killing aliens together and all we do is go to bars and eat sandwiches.

I will say that in the past couple months, she and I have had more sex, and she’s way more into it. I assume she’s imagining I’m him. I’m not sure how to feel about that since I’m sort of benefiting from it.

Obviously, my biggest fear is that I’m going to lose her to this guy. Should I be scared? Should I talk to her about it? Should I accidentally back over her XBox? 



She’s No Angel

Dear SNA,

Since you did not mention how you “accidentally stumbled upon” the conversations between your wife and Mr. Minneapolis, we are going to assume you snooped. Forgive us if we’re wrong. But if we’re not -- and we’re not -- we’ll overlook it this time since you’re already scared about your wife’s possible cheating.

Cheating is a slippery concept. It means different things to different people. Is her virtual relationship cheating? That depends.

Do you think she’s cheating? Do you think she thinks she’s cheating? Do you and your wife have an agreement, spoken or otherwise, about what constitutes cheating? 

The fact that she has a sexual relationship with another man sounds like the kind of thing you might consider cheating. On the other hand, they have never met.

You say she spends more time with him than she does with you and that their time together is “more intense.” On the other hand she feels a lot sexier lately, evidenced by more and better sex with you -- so your time with her has gotten more intense, too.

Is her online alien-killing and virtual-sex-having relationship with a man she’s never met cheating? Such a modern dilemma! 

You told us your biggest fear is that you are going to lose your wife to an online romance. That’s the heart of your issue and different from splitting hairs about what is and is not cheating, so let’s address that first. 

Will you lose her? It seems unlikely but stranger things have happened. You need to talk to her about what’s happening and find out how she feels about things. We can’t tell from the information provided if your marriage was on good footing before this relationship came along. Is her Halo affair a symptom of deeper issues between you? 

If you think your marriage is solid and you wish to continue with it there’s a conversation in your near (the nearer the better) future that’s going to start with you apologizing for snooping. After that you can get down to brassier tacks.

As for judging what is and is not cheating, that’s not ours to do. 

Is strip club attendance cheating? Is watching porn? Phone sex? Sexting? Fantasizing about someone who’s not your partner during sex? Having a crush outside your primary relationship that will never, ever go anywhere? Making out? Flirting? 

We’ve said it before, and it’s still true: it depends. Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different answers. Only you and your wife, together, can set the parameters for your relationship. 

We wish you luck with that awkward conversation you should have with her, and remember: if you snooped, you have to apologize.

Much love,

The Scarlets

You’ve just read The Scarlet Letters, a sex and relationship column written by two redheads on a mission to eradicate slut shaming, uninspired oral sex, and the myth of “normal.” Send your sex and relationship questions to [email protected]. (Want your email address anonymized? Try Anonymouse here, or any number of other email anonymizers on the webernets!)

The Scarlets:

Allison Picard had a long career in publishing before she got antsy and divorced, and then one in event planning before she got tired of working. Now that she's retired she can turn all her attention to sorting out your sex life. Other issues, proposals, invitations? Write to [email protected].

Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer.


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