Sex and shame go hand in hand when you’re a woman. If you’re openly expressive about your sexual self, you’ll be labeled a “slut,” but you’ll be seen as a ” prude ” if you’re not as sexual or “game” as other women.
The stigma has resulted in women not being able to learn about their bodies and their pleasure. And pre-internet days, pornography and peers has only been their resource for sex, which is why there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding female sexuality, such as:
- “You can only orgasm through vaginal sex.”
- “Being ‘wet’ down there is the sole indicator of female arousal.”
- “Touching yourself and using sex toys will permanently desensitize your genitals.”
- “Heterosexual sex is the only valid form of sex.”
- “Women don’t feel as horny as men do.”
The shame of female pleasure has also resulted in millions of women not having satisfactory sexperiences. Studies have shown that only 65% of heterosexual women experience orgasm during sex, while 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasm during the deed.
Thankfully, a handful of sexologists, anatomical experts, and other medical professionals have paved the way to introduce female pleasure.
For instance, in 2005, Australian urologist Helen O’Connell showcased the full anatomy of the clitoris, also known as “The Clitoral Complex.” Because of her noble work, we’ve learned that the visible clitoral nub in the vulva is just the tip of the iceberg. The clitoris consists of crura, vestibular bulbs, and other internal parts.
And because of sex educators and other experts bringing awareness to similar topics, the discussion of female pleasure has now reached mainstream platforms, such as Netflix. They’ve recently launched a limited series called ‘The Principles of Pleasure.’
What is Netflix’s ‘Principles of Pleasure’ All About?
Netflix’s ‘Principles of Pleasure’ is a three-part documentary about “sex, joy and modern science converge in this eye-opening series that celebrates the complex world of women’s pleasure— and puts stubborn myths to rest.”
It features well-known sex educators, such as Emily Nagoski, the author of the bestselling sex-ed book ‘Come as You Are.’ The show also presented an inclusive group of interviewees who have openly shared their sexual experiences and thoughts about female pleasure.
If you haven’t seen it yet, we recommend watching the documentary on Netflix first. But if you want to learn some of the topics they’ve talked about in the series, scroll down for the mentioned sex-ed lessons.
1“There isn’t one right way to assemble an orgasm.”
One of the most common misconceptions about female pleasure is that you can only achieve it through the same technique, stimulation, and activity. Women are supposed to be orgasming to vaginal sex only, and the bigger the penis, the stronger the climax.
We may have similar body structures, but each of us has unique needs and desires. A technique that may have worked for your body may not work for another individual. Some may prefer to use their fingers and watch erotic films to get off, while others may want to use sex toys and talk with someone over the phone.
2“Sex toys aren’t replacements for human touch.”
Sex toys often have a bad rep as some people believe it ruins relationships. This isn’t the case, though.
The documentary interviewed some of the notable educators and sexologists in the sexual wellness field, one of which is Dirty Lola, a known sex educator, and dildo slinger. She mentioned that sex toys aren’t designed to replace human intimacy and are simply “tools” for pleasure.
So for couples who want to incorporate pleasure toys in the bedroom but are afraid of the possible effect on the relationship, don’t worry. A silicone-made vibrator won’t hurt the relationship. It’s simply there to spice up your sensual plays.
3“Lube is your friend.”
Another topic briefly discussed in ‘The Principles of Pleasure’ is the importance of using a personal lubricant during sex. Whether you’re going for solo or couple plays, using lube can minimize friction between the penis/sex toy and your vagina/anus. It then results in a smoother glide during the deed, preventing painful sex and microtears on your vaginal/anal walls.
4“We all have hormones, and they deeply impact how we feel and what we physically experience.”
There’s a misconception that only females have hormones, so they’re “cranky” at times, especially during their periods. It was debunked in the series, as one of the featured sex educators, Emily Nagoski Ph.D., mentioned that both men and women have hormones and that both sexes experience hormonal changes daily.
Male people have testosterone, usually called androgens, while female folks have two main hormonal groups, the estrogens (e.g., estradiol) and the progestins (e.g., progesterone). There are tons of sub-topics to talk about when it comes to the male and female hormones, but one thing’s for sure, all of us have hormones, and it can affect our daily routine, relationships, and pleasure.
5“Accepting your body takes practice.”
What’s great about ‘The Principles of Pleasure’ is that it didn’t necessarily focus on sex alone and discussed the factors that affect our arousal and pleasure, such as body image.
Despite the big movement toward self-care and self-love, most people still struggle in accepting their bodies. But instead of telling everyone to stay positive and love themselves, the featured educators on the show took a more realistic approach to self-love.
Body acceptance takes practice. It takes months, even years. There’s no magic word, pill, or activity that could instantly make you love your body. And no, you’re not awful for not “feeling it” even when the world is encouraging you to accept your body. It’s okay to take time.
6“Pleasure is not a ‘nice to have.’ It’s a ‘need to have.'”
One of the common misconceptions about pleasure is that it’s not normal for us to desire and satisfy our sexual needs. This isn’t the case as all of us deserve to experience pleasure. It’s our right to satisfy ourselves, with or without a partner. It should be an enriching part of our lives.
7“The mind-body connection is critical to sexual desire.”
Did you know that the biggest erogenous zone is the brain? Our minds affect the way we experience pleasure; our brain cerebral cortex, amygdala, and deep brain structures are activated when our mind is being sensually stimulated through erotic visuals, audio, and situations.
This is why it’s essential to stimulate your mind before and during sexual activity. Remove the distractions and immerse yourself to the sensations. Because when your mind is distracted by issues regarding finances, relationships, work, and life in general, you may not experience pleasure, no matter how passionate your partner is or powerful your sex toy is.
8“The point of sex is to explore and figure it out.”
Another interesting lesson mentioned in ‘The Principles of Pleasure’ is that exploration is part of your sexual journey. You deserve to have fun in the bedroom even if you’re still new to sexual plays. Awkward mistakes in the middle of sex? Just chuckle it off.
You also don’t have to be at a certain skill level to fully immerse your mind and body in pleasure. Not only that, but you have the right to ask your lover for help regarding your sensual needs, whether you’re a newbie or an expert in the bedroom.
9“Attraction, sexual preferences, pleasure, none of these things follow a script of normal.”
This is one of the lessons from “The Principles of Pleasure” that you should remember, as knowing this fact could free you from shame. It’s normal to be unconventional when it comes to your sexual needs.
As long as your partner is into it and they’ve given enthusiastic consent, indulge your desires. Take it from Emily Nagoski: “You want to f*ck your partner’s armpit, and they’re into it? Go and f*ck your partner’s armpit.”
10“Porn is entertainment.”
Pornography is also mentioned in the third episode of the series. According to the featured sex educators, porn can help you figure out your turn-ons. It can also be a fun way to spice things up in the bedroom, especially if you both share the same fantasy.
Along with the benefits, the educators also emphasized that porn isn’t a reliable source for sex education. It’s produced for entertainment.
Sure, some porn studios are now showing realistic sex, but the majority of them are still presenting unrealistic sex. They still show women squirting tons of fluid that reaches the ceiling and men lasting for more than 30 minutes. We recommend platforms of sex educators and sex-positive organizations for lessons about sex.
11“Desire, genital response, and pleasure are three separable factors.”
One of the common misconceptions about female sexuality is that when a woman gets “wet” on their vagina, it means that they’re turned on. It’s also a common notion that women who are “dry” during sex, even after hours of foreplay, are not turned on or that their partners are “not hot enough.” This is why some people get offended if their partners bring up lube during sex, as it implies that they can’t make their partner lubricate.
Thankfully, the sex educators on the series have debunked the myths above. They stated that sexual concordance exists, which refers to the association between genital response and pleasure.
When someone is turned on or experiencing pleasure, it’s possible for their bodies to not have the intended physiological response (lubrication or erection). This also means that a person can have the intended physiological response from genital stimulation but don’t necessarily feel pleasure.
So if you’re in a situation wherein your partner wants to stop as they’re not in the mood anymore but is extremely wet down there, that doesn’t mean they’re lying or playing hard to get. They don’t feel pleasure and have only experienced lubrication due genital stimulation. Besides, if someone says no, always comply with it.
12“The core of most pleasure issues is communication.”
The key to better sexual experiences is through communication. Your partner is not a mind reader. They wouldn’t know your sexual desires, kinks, fetishes, amd preferences unless you told them about it. If you’re going through some bedroom issues, it’s also vital to talk to your partner about it; you can also seek help from a therapist. Keeping it in wouldn’t help you resolve the problem.
The more you open yourself to your partner, the more you’ll be able to open yourself to new erotic possibilities.
13“Women’s sexuality is more responsive to context.”
Did you know that women respond more to sexual context than erotic imagery? They would rather imagine themselves being intimate with someone inside a cozy tent instead of staring at a nude photo. If you want to turn your partner on, present a sexual context that would make them crave the deed.
The emphatic approach to sensitive topics, the concise explanation of certain aspects of sex, and enriching interviews from an inclusive group of women— Netflix’s ‘The Principles of Pleasure’ is the sex-ed women deserve. We hope that they’ll produce a second season about male sexuality soon. If you want to learn more about female sexuality, click here for other suggested reads.