There’s a pretty big pleasure gap between men and women. Research shows almost all men report orgasms during sex, but only about 65% of heterosexual women do. In same-sex relationships, the numbers are far less disparate. While it’s hard to say if sexism leads directly to fewer orgasms in women, at least one study shows a correlation. And Dr. Laurie Mintz, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida, thinks our male-focused language around sex is part of the problem.

“By equating sex with intercourse, it really privileges the male sexual experience because intercourse is the way that men most reliably reach orgasm, but not women,” says Dr. Mintz, author of “Becoming Cliterate.”

Studies show women are most likely to climax through genital touching and/or oral sex in addition to vaginal sex. Only a minority of females can orgasm from intercourse alone, but the activities that bring women the most pleasure — which directly involve the clitoris — are usually resigned to foreplay. By definition, this means “before” play. Dr. Mintz points out that this language is dismissive female pleasure.

Another way of looking at it is, “If we privileged female sexuality, we would call foreplay ‘sex’ and intercourse ‘afterplay’,” says Dr. Mintz.

Instead of saying foreplay, Ian Kerner, author of “She Comes First,” an oral sex guidebook aimed at men, prefers the term “coreplay”, which elevates the status of the clitoris. The point here isn’t to say that women’s orgasms are paramount to men’s, but that our language should reflect that they are both important. Here are some of Dr. Mintz’s tips on how to redefine our language around sex to make it more equal and inclusive.

Sex is more than intercourse
Dr. Mintz urges people to refer to sex as the whole encounter, which may or may not include intercourse. When you want to talk about a specific intimate act — like giving or receiving oral sex — don’t just group it in with everything else, name it. And definitely don’t forget to bring up the clitoris.

“It’s really crazy to me when I read articles that talk about best sex positions for women and they don’t even mention the clitoris,” says Dr. Mintz.

It’s vulva, not vagina
Most people call the entire female genitalia the vagina. But unless we’re talking about where babies come out and penises or sex toys go in, we should say vulva. Rebecca Chalker, author of “The Clitoral Truth,” argues that when we refer to everything as the vagina, we are calling our anatomy by the part that is sexually most useful to men. And when we say vagina but mean vulva, Dr. Mintz says we’re dismissing the external clitoris and the labia —women’s most sexually sensitive organs.

“We’re really calling (the vulva) by the wrong word, and it does matter,” says Dr. Mintz. “What if we called all of men’s penis the balls?”

Some people would rather stick to saying vagina because vulva doesn’t quite have the same snappy ring to it. It might seem cumbersome to use the proper language, but Dr. Mintz thinks we should just say words like vulva and clitoris until they become common. “Change is hard,” says Dr. Mintz. “But if change means you’re going to be helping people and being more inclusive, then it’s a change worth making.”

Prioritize your pleasure
About 85% of men think their partners always have an orgasm. So either they are not very observant or women are faking it. It’s probably a little bit of both, but part of the problem is many women don’t feel comfortable talking about what they want, especially in a casual sexual encounter. This not only leads to fewer orgasms, but it can lead to a lack of arousal and pain during sex.

When Dr. Mintz talks with her male students, she finds that it’s not that they don’t want their female partners to have a good time, they often just don’t know what to do. She encourages her female students to ask for what they want during sex and know that their pleasure is just as important.

“We have to start using the right language and educate both young men and women,” says Dr. Mintz. “Sex is an equal giving and receiving of pleasure.”

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Keri Wiginton is a writer and photographer focusing on issues related to women's health, mental well-being, and feminism. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Austin-American Statesman, Tampa Bay Times and Houston Chronicle. Follow her work at www.keriwiginton.com or on Twitter at @keriphoto.