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Performance Anxiety Series, part 2 : Big O Propaganda

by Ariane Fortin 0 Comments
Big O propaganda banner - Picture black and white of woman lips close up via Unsplash

Orgasms are definitely awesome, but what if the message around the “big o” was part of the issue of performance anxiety? In this part of our Anxiety Series, our team tackles the problem that brings the constant quest for orgasm.


In the sex toy industry, and more recently in the sexual wellness industry, vibrations have been the name of the game for quite some time. Since their apparition in “medical devices” to cure female hysteria in the late 1800s, vibrations are used as a key ingredient to help womxn achieve orgasms and sometimes even overcome their anorgasmia. As you might imagine, as a sexual wellness brand we have quite a complicated relationship with vibrations. Two serious issues come to mind when we think about the use of vibrations in our sexual relationships (with others and ourselves).

  1. The regular use of vibrations often creates a “plateau” effect that will bring you to increase the vibrations powers over time, mainly because your brain gets use to this kind of stimulation and needs more in order to achieve the same level of pleasure. But this is an issue on its own that we should tackle in another post.
  2. When the marketing around this kind of product is centered around the time it takes for you to orgasm from it, the message you give is that the only important thing in a healthy and fulfilling sexual life is how many and how fast you can reach orgasm.

By centering the dialog only around orgasm, we still focus on numbers, statistiques and nothing emotional or meaningful.

The feminist accomplishment

It took us literally a millennia, but more and more in our Occidental culture we acknowledges the right of womxn to experience pleasure and have orgasms. This is a big cultural shift and an even bigger win for the feminist community (yeah!).

But did we put too much emphasis on orgasms, without talking enough about pleasure in general?

Today, some partners will only define the quality of the relation by the number of orgasms they were able to give to their partners. We’re all in for pleasure, but this goal puts a lot of pressure on both partners, even more so when you know that some womxn can take up to 45 minutes of stimulation to orgasm. Also, the worst thing you can do to stop you from orgasming is to concentrate on this only goal, which will eventually get you frustrated and unfocused. By focusing only on reaching this goal, you disconnect from the present moment, your sensations and even decrease pleasure.


The unicorn of sexuality: simultaneous orgasm

If achieving an orgasm (or several) is now the main goal for most of intimates relationships, the simultaneous orgasm is probably painted as the supreme accomplishment for any couple. Whether in pop movies, porn or even literature, simultaneous orgasm has evolved has a tool to describe the perfect harmony between two partners.

Here’s a real story that will illustrate how dangerous this kind of “performance” can become. In “Orgasm Inc.”, a documentary about how the pharmaceutical industry tried to find a new market for their Viagra in women after dominating the male market, we meet a woman that can reach orgasm by herself and with her partner but never both at the same time. To help this woman, a doctor suggests to her a medical procedure to connect her nervous system directly to a remote that will trigger an orgasm on request. This device will be implanted in her spine and is incredibly dangerous. After a successful medical procedure, she realizes all that could have happened to her just in order to reach orgasm at the same time as her partner. Of course, it wasn’t worth the risk.

By describing the simultaneous orgasm as nirvana for couples, the Medias have created an (almost) unreachable goal. Of course very few people will go to those lengths to achieve this goal but this example shows you how far this performance pressure can go.


By focusing the sexual wellness and feminist sexuality messages around the orgasm, we might have created a new, anxiety inducing, message: without orgasms, intercourse and intimate moments are incomplete. We saw a lot of womxn on forums who ask how to reach orgasm every time? Actually the quick answer might be: stop thinking about it.

Why not simply enjoy every moment and reach orgasm if it happens?

In the last part of our series we’ll give you some tips to overcome performance anxiety.

↩️Go back to Part 1: Performance Anxiety Series - Part 1 : Our perception of Sexuality

➡️ Keep Reading: Performance anxiety series, part 3: How to overcome Performance Anxiety

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