CARNAL KNOWLEDGE

Can Virtual Vaginas Help Close the Orgasm Gap?

Twenty-seven percent fewer women than men reported an orgasm in their last sexual encounter. OMGYes, a new interactive online encyclopedia of clitorial touching, may just change that.

12.30.15 5:01 AM ET

In the United States, the orgasm gap is just as wide as the wage gap.

According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), 91 percent of men reported having an orgasm during their last sexual encounter. Only 64 percent of women could say the same.

The makers of the website OMGYes, best described as an interactive online encyclopedia of clitoral touching, are hoping to transform that gap into a relic from a bygone era.

“We think that in a hundred years, people will watch When Harry Met Sally and think, ‘Why would someone fake an orgasm?’” Rob Perkins, a co-founder of OMGYes, told The Daily Beast.

“Hopefully less time,” added co-founder Lydia Daniller.

Daniller and Perkins developed their instructional website based on interviews their research team conducted with 1,000 women. To back up their qualitative data, they also commissioned Kinsey Institute researcher Dr. Debby Herbenick and Dr. Brian Dodge at Indiana University to conduct a nationally representative survey of another 1,000 women.

Now they are offering up the secrets of female sexual pleasure to the entire Internet. For a small fee, of course.

The website they have created is a compendium of technical knowledge for anyone who wants to learn their way around a vulva. A membership grants access to individual pages for techniques like “edging,” “hinting,” “staging,” and “accenting,” each with their own descriptions and videos. This is 300-level carnal knowledge, not your basic grocery store checkout aisle sex advice.

OMGYes also features what its founders are calling “touchable technology”: Interactive images of vulvas, clitorises, and vaginas that can be touched, rubbed, tapped, and flicked while sexy narration guides your hand through the aforementioned techniques. Daniller and Perkins say these touchable online genitals took an eternity to develop.

“The simulations sounded a lot easier to make than they were, and it took years to do those,” said Perkins. “We had to hire all sorts of brainiacs in all sorts of different fields to program [them].”

I spent some time clicking on a virtual vulva or two at OMGYes, discovering one woman’s preferred rhythm for rubbing while she delivered breathy instructions like “More pressure” or “A bit faster.” When I put my phone down to take notes, she asked, “Why’d you stop?” No rest for the wicked, it seems.

The interactive genitals themselves, constructed from dozens of still photographs and programmed by engineers in cooperation with the women who posed for them, react with a level of realism that approaches the uncanny, though more tactile learners could probably benefit from a few minutes alone with one anyway.

“Touchable video is a way to give people direct experience,” Daniller told The Daily Beast. “Obviously, it’s virtual, but it’s a way that [people] can practice and fine-tune and get it wrong and then get it right.”

Flashy technical bits aside, OMGYes hosts a number of videos in which women describe exactly how they like to be touched in explicit but not quite pornographic terms.

“In talking to people, we realized that the most powerful stories are either ones that you’ve lived yourself or ones that you hear from close friends,” Daniller said. “So, we wanted to try to create something that was relatable people sharing their truth.”

Getting academic researchers on board with the project was simple, Perkins said, because it provided them with the opportunity to investigate women’s preferences for various techniques in an unprecedented level of detail.

“They were stoked because chances don’t come along to do [that kind of research] so much,” Perkins said. “That doesn’t get funding, so they were really excited to do it.”

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Did you know that nearly two-thirds of women like to be brought close to orgasm, then suddenly let back down? Neither did anyone else, apparently, until this joint research venture took place.

There’s already empirical proof that the orgasm gap doesn’t have to be as wide as it is. A 2014 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lesbians had orgasms nearly 75 percent of the time they had sex—a much higher average rate than heterosexual or bisexual women.

And the NSSHB found that 85 percent of men claimed their most recent partner had an orgasm, suggesting that at least some men in heterosexual relationships believe they’re accomplishing more than they are.

While following the instructions in OMGYes will probably increase the likelihood of female orgasm, it’s certainly no substitute for talking with your real-life partners and touching non-virtual genitals. But OMGYes isn’t positioning itself so much as a replacement for communication as an advanced guide for men, women, and couples who want to step up their game.

“We’re hoping that it gives people a toolkit of things to discover and explore, and new ways to talk about it all,” said Daniller. “[Dr. Herbenick] once told us that a great motto is to stay curious. And that’s something we hope this website does as well—helps people stay curious.”