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back to ba(sex): is phallocentrism the reason straight women prefer penetration?


Over the past few weeks, I feel like I’ve been writing about penises and phallocentrism a lot for you here at Lip. The irony is, of course, that my writing has become phallocentric. Badum, tish! Nonetheless, if you are a woman who has sex with men, this may be the case throughout your life. Unlike the turn of my writing, it’s not so comical.

YouTube vlogger Arielle Scarcella has compiled a comparative video study of 500 straight and 500 lesbian-identifying women’s preferences for penetration. The results? Penetration was the chosen sex act for straight women at 55%, with only 25% of same-sex attracted women favouring it.These unscientific figures are backed up by more rigorous testing.

Data as far as back as 1993 shows only 18% of women rated oral sex as their preferred means to achieve an orgasm. More recently in the US, Indiana University led a national survey of almost 6,000 people aged 14-94 (Yes, 94. Your grandparents have a right to enjoy sex too, you know!) to collect data on the country’s sexual behaviours. The 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) showed women were giving more oral sex than they were receiving. The NSSHB also found women were more likely to orgasm through a number of sexual behaviours, unlike men who were more likely to come with vaginal intercourse.

In 1996, it was believed only 5% of women climaxed from penetration alone and 2008 apparently saw a slight improvement with 7% of women brought to ecstasy solely with thrusting. Given most women will not come from vaginal penetration alone, it poses the question: are straight women STILL opting out of their own pleasure to please men in 2014? For many women – including Scarcella’s interviewees – it is a startling ‘yes’.

Every fortnight I Google a number of saucy items pertaining to sexuality for this column – I’m super badass and not afraid of the Big Bad Interwebs, I tell you – to help find data and sources. If you type in ‘do women prefer penetration’ you’ll get a long list of chat forums and men’s advice pages with testaments to the fulfilment of being filled by penis. There’s also a lot of questions from what I’m assuming to be young people (read: hetero boys) about what it feels like for women to be penetrated.

There are some pretty dopey answers out there. To paraphrase one: ‘The most satisfying love and warmth over and over’. That sounds more like putting pasta in my mouth than a penis in my vagina, if you ask me, but anyway… Regardless of the answers I scrolled through, there was a fixation on emotions and a conflation of giving pleasure being pleasure.

In her influential 1970 work The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer described women’s disengagement and displeasure with their genitals as a symptom of male-contrived ‘cunt hatred’. She even outlined her personal reluctance to allow her partners to give her head, more so due to the profound intimacy of having someone’s face buried between your legs. We can see these reasons mirrored in Scarcella’s subjects who claim to be self-conscious or had feared their partner would not enjoy going down on them.

From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, what you desire shouldn’t be thrust aside for some thrusting cock. Straight women should take a leaf out of same-sex attracted women’s books and celebrate the female form. Ring, ring! That’s your cunt calling. Will you answer?

One thought on “back to ba(sex): is phallocentrism the reason straight women prefer penetration?

  1. From a guy perspective, I think this is sad, as I enjoy giving head about 1000% more than receiving it. IMO there’s no sexual activity that gets even close to the joy that comes from the girl you love climaxing right in your face.

    I’ve sometimes wondered whether women give more oral than they get because of communications problems. Men don’t want to suggest going down in case the women they love don’t feel comfortable with it. We’ve been brought up on the idea that women have been force-fed messages from the media saying that they should feel bad about how they look, smell or taste, so we believe that a lot of women don’t like cunnilingus and those who do want it only once they’re totally relaxed with a guy. Ergo, we wait to be asked. Meanwhile, women (worrying about all that shit I just mentioned) don’t think we’re interested.

    So please, if you’re a straight woman and you like a man’s tongue around your clit, tell him! He likes it too!

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