More thoughts about orgasms.

April 23, 2011 at 9:56 am (Relationship, Sex) (, , , )

It’s not a flaw that my stomach isn’t flat like a supermodel’s.

It’s not a flaw that my breasts are no longer high and perky like an 18-year-old’s.

It’s not a flaw that I can’t put my ankles next to my ears like a gymnast.

Why should I think it is a flaw that I don’t orgasm as easily or often as other women?

I’m tired of feeling like something is wrong with me. I’m tired of sexual encounters that become excessively focused on whether or not I have an orgasm. I just want to enjoy sex – and for me, that enjoyment might not include an orgasm. I want to be okay with that. I want my partners to be okay with that.

I’ve decided that my orgasm is my responsibility. Not my partner’s. I don’t mean that the only way I’ll have an orgasm is if I give myself one, though I have no problem being – ahem – hands-on in addressing the need. I do mean that I want to walk away from the notion that a man has to “give” me an orgasm. It’s not some trinket in his pocket he can hand out at will. It’s not a commentary on his skills, or my level of enjoyment, if I don’t orgasm. It’s just the way I’m wired. My body responds to stimulation differently than other women might.  Yes, there are “issues” involved that may be preventing me from responding as fully or easily as I could – but that’s also my problem and mine alone. And this is a problem I have had for over 20 years of sexual activity… so I’ve reached the point where I no longer want to view it as a problem. This is the way I am.

In a way, it strikes me as a sexist and patriarchial approach to pleasure — the thought that a man is responsible for giving a woman an orgasm. Think about the stereotypical pattern of a male-female sexual encounter: the man stimulates the woman through foreplay, maybe licks her or fingers her to orgasm, then fucks her to reach his own orgasm. Men are encouraged to put the woman’s pleasure first. In most conventional – if we must use the lousy term, “vanilla” – sexual interactions, the man is in charge, the woman comes first, then her body is used for the man to achieve his pleasure. He is responsible for both her orgasm, and his own. What?

I’ve fallen into that pattern many times. I’ve accepted that stereotype – the man will try to “give” me an orgasm, he may or may not succeed, then he moves on to tending to his own orgasm. I may try to give him pleasure directly and make him come — BUT: I have never felt bad, or insufficient, or un-feminine, if I was unable to “give” him an orgasm. So my hand or jaw got tired or whatever – okay, we move on and do something else. It’s not a failure on my part or commentary on my lack of sexual skills if I didn’t make him come.

I’m going to say this again, because I think it’s important: As a woman, I have never felt like a failure as a sexual partner for not making my partner achieve orgasm. Yet I have encountered many men who have expressed a sense of inadequacy because they didn’t make me come. This is nonsense. I don’t want my partners to feel that way.

I can — and often do — have an exciting, satisfying sexual encounter without an orgasm. That’s the way I am. All aspects of sex are a pleasure;  and there are many pleasurable things we do that don’t have an explosive finale.  There is great pleasure in the experience. For me, the objective is reveling in that experience: the emotional thrill of fulfilling a desire; the happiness of physically expressing affection; the amazement at the varying textures of skin and hair; the discovery and re-discovery of places that are rarely touched but which delight in contact. Focusing intently on achieving an orgasm seems to dismiss or minimize the joy of the overall experience.

I like orgasms; I have very hard, long, deep orgasms when I do have them, and if I want one I’ll do what it takes to get one – whether I need to touch myself to do it, or just tell my partner precisely what to do. But my partner’s pleasure shouldn’t be decreased if I don’t come; and it shouldn’t be viewed as an inferior sexual encounter if it doesn’t involve an orgasm.

The only sin I believe in is the sin of comparison. I don’t want my body and my responsiveness and my orgasmic ability compared to other women anymore – by my partner, or by me. Take me as I am.

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No longer a mistress.

April 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm (Relationship, Sex) (, , )

I’ve been cut off again. Cut out. Severed.

This is, I think, the fourth time in over twenty years. For it to happen again should probably upset me, or at least annoy me, but after the initial surprise wore off, it doesn’t.

He’ll find me again when he needs me. I don’t know if I’ll need him to find me, though.

Most likely, he was careless with an email account and certain messages were seen. Promises were made to his wife. No, never again, I mean it this time. See? I’ve deleted her.

I am, it seems, easily deleted. Easily un-friended. Easily un-collared. Easily un-mistressed.

The first time, it was a mutual decision – we both were getting married to other people, and we knew it was wrong to sleep together. But it seemed like the last chance to do something we agreed we always wanted to do. The second time, he panicked and felt guilty, and couldn’t follow through. The third time, I was just one of several mistresses he swore would never enter his life again.

This time, I don’t know. I was probably the only one. The one, he had told me many times, he thought of every day. The one constant in his life for 20 years. His melancholy nature was suited to pining away after one particular woman too far away to touch. I think he enjoyed the pining, perhaps more than he enjoyed the rare times he was with me.

The funny thing is, the most recent messages we’d exchanged were hardly erotic material worthy of any jealousy. Rather, they contained me delaying plans and making excuses: I can’t get time off work for another cross-country trip, I’ve been sick and stressed and my libido is shot; give me a few months and we’ll see how I feel then. The few months went by and he never asked again, and I never offered. Then is was well over a year. Then it was going on two.  I wasn’t missing him.

I’ll tell a few of his stories, to honor his memory. But I suspect this is truly the end this time, and there will be no more stories about him.

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Fuck you.

April 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm (Random)

I’m in this phase right now where I think about things I normally wouldn’t think about. I like this. It means I’m growing, it’s improving my satisfaction with life in general, and sometimes it takes me in some very odd and amusing directions. This is one of them.

Why is “fuck you” still an insult? Why do we, in anger and spite, wish upon someone one of the most pleasant experiences imaginable?

My husband’s favorite expression of frustration is “that sucks balls”. I always remind him how much he likes having his balls sucked. (He shaves. It’s wonderful.) So how could an annoying or irritating experience possibly be equivalent to the pleasure of a warm, wet tongue caressing those most tender pieces, a soft mouth engulfing his delicate parts?

It’s a lingering bit of prudishness in our language, I think. To take it even farther, it’s evidence of rape culture – sex as an act of violence, fury, bitterness, hatred. I don’t want to be a part of that. I don’t want to use the word “fuck” in association with rage and violence anymore.

So as a public effort towards greater sex-positivity in language, let’s start using these expressions according to their true meanings. “Fuck you” becomes a sincere expression of joy. “Get fucked” is a congratulatory statement. “Go fuck yourself” is encouraging you to spend some time focusing on your own pleasure.

Maybe it will help you get fucked. And that should be a good thing.

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The trenchcoat.

April 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm (Sex) ()

I don’t think he asked me to do it. I think it was my own silly notion.

When he parked next to my building, I sashayed over in my strappy heels and long black trenchcoat. He said a distracted hello and then, “Here, can you put this in your pocket?” and handed me a tube of toothpaste.

This was not what I had planned.

I cleared my throat.

He handed me his toothbrush in a travel container.

I said, “Goddamn it, I’m trying to do something here. Look at me.”

He did. I opened the trenchcoat.

He smiled. Now I had his attention. I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him, hard; then pulled away, gathered the coat closed with one hand and took his hand with the other to drag him inside.

The door slammed shut, I dropped the coat and dropped to my knees. Men’s pants are so difficult to get into when you’re in a hurry. Belt, button, zipper, then another layer… there.

Lips parted to take him in, hard and ripening against my tongue, dripping sweetness. Tongue rolling and searching for all the best places, the right spots, the one that makes him gasp, the one that makes him draw in his breath through his teeth.

He pulled me up and close; the decadence of being naked against someone fully clothed. His hand went between my legs, a quick stroke as if to check — yes, just as he thought. Where, then, shall we? The floor is fine. I’ve been waiting all night; there’s no time left, the bed is too far away. Now.

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Why I don’t like Vanilla.

April 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm (Relationship) (, )

The DH (darling husband; and he is) recently made a confession: he’s vanilla. He doesn’t have any kinks. Other than the fact that it was his desire for sexual openness that started us on this journey, and aside from being a bit of an exhibitionist, his primary enjoyment comes from traditional sexual intercourse done really well (his words).

He brought this up while fretting over a girlfriend who frequently asks him over for sex when she’s drunk; he no longer wants to see her when she’s been drinking, because, he says, she asks for rough, degrading acts that he doesn’t enjoy, and he doesn’t feel comfortable treating her that way. He thinks it’s another way of self-medicating, along with her drinking, and is an expression of her low self-esteem, and he doesn’t want to participate or enable that behavior anymore. He was struggling with how to tell her this, and ultimately came out with the comment that he’s basically just a vanilla guy – said with a tone of resignation and a little bit of embarrassment.

This whole conversation made me sad – I felt bad for his girlfriend and her apparent unhappiness, and I felt bad for him for his sense that being vanilla made him in some way inferior.

I really dislike the use of the word “vanilla” to describe those who prefer conventional sexual approaches, conditions, activities or roles. It’s become derogatory – plain, boring, conservative, ordinary, bland.

I happen to love vanilla – done well it is a rich flavor, smooth, a little earthy, an elemental flavor. Given a choice I frequently relish vanilla ice cream and I wouldn’t apologize for that.

I also happen to love vanilla sex with my husband. We know each other well; we know where to touch, what is needed, what is special. Intimacy makes intercourse an emotional connection, a bonding on multiple levels, and that can be a phenomenal experience.  I experience something with him that I’m reluctant, if not actually unable, to do with anyone else – eye contact during sex. For me, it is a mind-blowing feeling to look in his eyes while he moves inside of me.

Kink can be powerful, too, of course. Being bound, blindfolded and on my knees creates an amazing, chaotic swirl of emotions and intense arousal in me. But is a bowl of ice cream with nuts, chocolate, syrups, creams, and other assorted goodness really better than a simple bowl of intense vanilla ice cream? Sometimes that’s exactly what I want. Sometimes I want the bowl full of everything. One isn’t better than the other.

Someone on Twitter (and sadly, I’ve forgotten who) made a comment recently that “sex positive” has to mean acceptance of the full sexual spectrum, not just acceptance of your own personal kink. I see so-called “sex positive” people who are very critical of “vanilla” lifestyles and activities. You only want to fantasize about a threesome, not actually have one? That’s so lame. You prefer the missionary position? Booooring. You refuse to hit me? See ya. Why isn’t “vanilla” a valid and acceptable option on the sexual spectrum? It should be. My husband shouldn’t have to apologize for being vanilla, and I sincerely hope I’ve never said or done something that made him feel like he should. I won’t apologize for wanting a flavor other than vanilla from time to time, but that’s what our open relationship allows me – the freedom to taste other flavors. They’re all good. They’re all valid. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of acceptability. Sex, period, is a wonderful thing.

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It’s always best to start at the beginning.

April 7, 2011 at 5:54 pm (Sex) (, )

I was a very late bloomer.

I wouldn’t say she took advantage of my innocence, but I definitely had a lot of it. To be 19 years old and never been kissed, let alone touched, was on the rare side even then. I didn’t expect anything to happen. I wasn’t even hoping or wishing for something to happen. I didn’t know anything could happen.

I had so little understanding of myself as a sexual being. I didn’t even masturbate until I was 18. I still wore the plain white underwear my mother bought me; the appeal of wearing pretty lingerie hadn’t occurred to me. No one had ever expressed any interest in me in a physical way, and I never thought that anybody would. I didn’t think sex applied to me; I wasn’t troubled by that thought, either. I was pretty simple back then.

She was the first person in my short life to actively pursue my company. I’d always had a difficult time making friends, so it was completely novel for me, what she was doing – showing up in the places where she’d knew I’d be, hunting me down in between classes at the university. Soon she was inviting me over to her house, which was also different and exciting – she lived with her gay father and his partner in a huge, old house with a dramatic staircase and an attic that felt like a maze of tiny rooms. She ran the household and was permitted complete freedom, which meant a party every weekend. I was soon invited to one of those.

I think I may still have a picture from that night, or one of those nights, and I clearly recall the expression on my face in that photo – bleary-eyed fascination at what was going on around me. Her friends were flamboyant, loud, and heavy drinkers all. I’d had maybe a wine cooler or two before then (it was the 80’s; forgive me) but had never been even close to drunk. She decided that white wine was the best choice for me, and told me to drink it like water. And so I did.

It was a long and slow seduction. I remember sitting in the kitchen around 3 AM, when her diabetic father came down for a snack. He sleepily asked, “What are you up to?”

“Getting Alice drunk.”


“So I can seduce her later.”

I giggled. I don’t think I even knew what she meant.

Later was probably about 5:30 AM, after she decided to cut my hair. I had always loved having my hair cut, and it gave me a feeling I would identify with arousal now, but I didn’t know what it was then. A drunken haircut probably wasn’t the best idea, and I don’t remember quite how bad of a haircut it was, but it wasn’t good.

We finally arrived in her bedroom, one of the tiny attic rooms with a small window, set in the eaves, walls painted gold with clothing and records piled on the floor next to a mattress. A turntable rested on egg crates. I was seduced to David Bowie’s “Changes” played several times in succession. I curled up on her bed and said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

She said, “Don’t worry, I do,” and pulled her t-shirt over her head.

She was luscious. She showed me what to do, demonstrated on my own body before allowing me to repeat the same on hers. What I remember most is the loveliness of her breasts – so perfectly round, with small rosy nipples, and it felt wonderful to me to suck on them. I remember pressing my knee between her legs, as she had to mine. I remember…

I remember staring out the window as the sun came up and she slept. I remember dressing and creeping out of the house, walking home through the still-quiet morning.

I remember falling apart. I remember asking too much of her. I remember saying I loved her, and being told, as gently as she could, that she didn’t love me. I remember finding peace with that, then losing it again. We tried to keep our friendship alive, but in a few years it faded away entirely.

Not long ago we reconnected through the wonders of social media. She was pleased, and surprised, and glad that I didn’t hate her, she wrote. She always felt bad about how often she’d convinced me to skip classes. She felt responsible for the fact that I’d dropped out of college entirely.

I had to laugh. She was responsible for so much more. She started everything. And for that, I’m rather grateful.

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The trouble with orgasms.

April 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm (Sex) (, )

My name is Alice, and I don’t have orgasms.

That’s a slight exaggeration. I can pretty reliably give myself an orgasm. The problem comes when someone else tries to give me an orgasm. More likely than not, it ain’t gonna happen. A partner can start off with the best of intentions and the greatest of enthusiasm, and I can be loving whatever he’s doing, but there’s a point when the anxiety kicks in, or the friction starts to hurt, and one or the other or both of us gives up in frustration.

This is one of my strangest dichotomies – how could a frisky swinger/poly/kinky/label-of-the-month girl not be coming all over the place? How can you love sex and not have orgasms with your partners?

I have tried in many ways to figure it out, short of investing in a comprehensive Freudian psychoanalysis. I’ve spent hours mulling over the circumstances and scenarios around the few occasions when someone else did actually succeed in making me come. There are some consistent elements, but none have ever proven consistently successful:

  • Detachment: I dated a forestry geek for a few months who could make me come through sheer willpower – the man would simply not give up, no matter what I said or did. He brought along a vibrator on our second date; what else could I do? We had amazing chemistry but truthfully, I didn’t care a fig about him – he was incapable of communication so I never learned much of anything about him. However, I’ve been with plenty of other men where even the word “friends” would be a stretch to describe us, and most of them were unsuccessful in the orgasm inducement area. It seems to help if I really don’t care, but not always.
  • Relaxation: I just don’t relax. Ever. My insomnia is the kind where I wake up at 3:00 AM with racing thoughts about all the shit I haven’t done. But on a few rare occasions I can remember being what I would consider really, truly relaxed, you could pull orgasms out of me like feathers from a chicken. But, that happens, like, once every six years or so. Nothing much helpful there.
  • Really stupid ridiculous level of arousal: The orgasms that came fast and hard and deserving of the “little death” term were when I was in a really crazy state of arousal. Example: a few weeks ago, my husband refused to touch me. He would kiss me, but he wouldn’t touch me. And through no direct instruction, I didn’t touch him, either. And it turned me on like fuck all. I can count on one hand the number of strictly vaginal orgasms I’ve had – that was one of them. It knocked the wind out of me. But jesus h. christ, how much of that kind of arousal can a human being take? Blood vessels could burst, dude. It wouldn’t be pretty.
  • Bondage. But we’re not even going to go there. Yet.

So what’s holding me back? The only medical reason for this, that I’ve discovered, is the distance between clit and vagina, but that only explains my lack of orgasms from intercourse alone, and I know I’m far from the only woman in the world who can’t come just from thrusting. My clit on its own works fine; I get myself off regularly. If not physiology, then we look to psychology… but I’m not self-conscious in bed; I’m not one of those women trying to hold the sheet over her cellulite. I’ve never received any form of criticism during sex that might have damaged me to this extent. There’s just a little corner of my brain that whispers “no“.

It’s so obvious, and so pitiful. Control. Oh, honey… giving someone, giving a man control of my body to the extent of controlling the most elemental, primal, vital force that your body can produce? How much trust, how much complete and total confidence do I have to have in someone to permit him make me come?

How hard did I have to fight to take control of my life after giving control to a man who abused me? How hard did I have to work to believe again that I had value as a human being? That’s about how hard it is to give someone control of my pleasure. When my husband first started making me come on a regular basis, I always, without fail, cried. Tears of utter relief. There is no orgasm in the world that can equal one given to me by someone I care for, because it is that damn hard for me to let it happen.

I write this because I want to. I write this because it hurts. And I write it because maybe someday, someone will read it who knows what I mean.

And someday I’ll learn how to give up control.

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The lawyer.

April 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm (Sex) ()

We would meet halfway between our respective offices, and walk together to his car. He would try to lure me into discussion about what we would shortly be doing; he’d question me, he’d flirt with me, but nothing would work. I knew he loved my steadfast refusal to say or do anything at all untoward in public. I was happy to let the anticipation build that way.

Once we arrived at my home, we went straight to the bedroom, and the demure, reticent shell was cracked wide open. With barely a touch I’d be out of my clothes, putting whatever part he wanted in easy reach. I’d stretch along the edge of the bed, sucking and fondling him; with one hand alternating between my nipples and the other probing into the sweet, wet folds below, he’d start mumbling and crooning to me in that slightly, oddly high pitched voice: “I’ll make you come, just wait… I’ll make you come and then you’ll ask me to come back again…” And once, finally, he did make me come, folding up and blooming out, his cock forgotten in my hand.

I didn’t ask him to come back again.

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