Last week, I received a letter from a 20 year old woman. Complete with a certain amount of apprehension, she wrote about how she cannot have an orgasm.
Whether or not she masturbates alone or with a partner, the result never changes. Her body goes into hiding - escapes. She’s even annoyed about it. “I hope it’s not some sort of factory defect,” she said. So, I reflected on the relationship between women and orgasm, and how much its narrative and perception has evolved over time.
When I was 20 years old, us girls didn’t have such clear ideas about orgasms (after all, magazines like Top Girl or Cioè were responsible for our sexual training). Most of us weren’t even sure if we had ever had one (we had neither porn nor sex toys, and we practiced less autoeroticism than our male counterparts, not to mention that most of us didn’t even masturbate at all).
Everything we knew about our body and sex was confusing, uncertain: in theory, we could have thousands of multiple orgasms. In practice, we had to be on high alert in order not to miss it, because the female orgasm was similar to the Loch Ness Monster - a legend.
A mysterious, elusive, and incomprehensible phenomenon. When we hooked up with boys, the so-called “King” of foreplay was “fingering”--that is, a fierce in & out in our vagina, done with a finger (or two, if you were nasty enough) rather than a penis. But the heart of the experience was vaginal and penetrative.
Only professionals knew that the clitoris existed, and that engaging it more often was pivotal to our pleasure and enjoyment. Most men tried to pleasure us by tirelessly plugging in and out, without even venturing out in search of our pleasure points, the existence of which was completely ignored. And most of us expected men to work wonders while plugging away, albeit somewhat clumsily, more or less brutally, and quite rushed.
When we finally decided to become serious with someone, we were perfectly prepped on how to fake an orgasm (as was made evident in romantic comedies, like When Harry Met Sally).
Personally, I’ve never faked an orgasm and I’ve never understood why women do it, unless it’s a form of excessive concern for their companions, in the hopes of not offending their masculinity.
+ Our Choice for Pleasure
On the other hand, though, we were born in the 20th Century - the century in which Freud invented a hierarchy of female orgasms, attributing greater prestige to the vaginal orgasm while defining the clitoral orgasm as “immature”. Now, if you’re asking yourself how Freud was able to establish all of these things on sexuality without even having a vulva himself, well - I don’t have an answer for you, other than the fact that the vaginal orgasm was considered more “valuable” in the eyes of the father of psychoanalysis, due to its phallocentric nature.
The fact is, my generation has grown up being completely disincentivized by the orgasm because: you can rarely feel it, if you don’t have one it’s your fault, faking it is a good idea, the G-spot doesn’t exist, neither does female ejaculation, masturbation is a dirty thing, and clitoral orgasms are immature.
Prior to my generation, it was uncommon for girls to even look at themselves “down there”. While it’s great that we’ve now reached the opposite end of the spectrum - a time when we can casually send out vaginal selfies to anyone - it wouldn’t have been a bad idea if we had become more familiar with our roommate who lives downstairs, beneath our abdomen.
You know, we just needed to engage in the basics: Good morning! Good evening! Oh, here you are, clitoris! Vaginal pleasure! Ah, the small lips and the big lips! How funny you are! My dear, dear vulva… This is how my generation grew up. As of late, I’ve often thought that younger women have been much more fortunate to grow up in a world with Sex & the City and Girls, where female sexuality is much freer.
But then I got this woman’s letter, which makes me think of a New York Times article I read a few months ago about the relationship between teenagers and sex. It seems that while we grew up with the idea of having to be pure goody two shoes, younger women have been brought up with the idea of having to be like Cicciolina, Jessica Rizzo, and Sasha Grey, all wrapped up in one.
Moves that our lovers would have thought were straight out of a science-fiction novel have become absolutely boring by today’s standards. While on one hand, I find it heartwarming that younger women are pursuing their orgasms as an objective to be reached, I also wonder if we’ve traded one set of anxieties for another. It’s as if we’re still in the same place of feeling inadequate and being judged. To top it all off, the worst time to be anxious is when you’re trying to have an orgasm.
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The only real secret of having an orgasm is that you need to be free. It isn’t so much a question of whether it’s internal, external, clitoral, vaginal, from the G-spot, or from the dancing vaginal fountains, etc. That’s all subjective…
The point is that in order to come, you must be free: free from anxiety over having an orgasm, free from anxiety over NOT having an orgasm, free from the anxiety of judgment (over being too much of a prude or too much of a whore, whichever the case may be). And free from anxieties over having as little as two hairs out of place, or from our own scents and smells.
In order to come, you need to free your own sexuality: talk about it and practice it. Above all, pull it out of the moral and societal judgment that oppresses it, and has always done so in various different ways (from the days of chastity belts to the current obsession of becoming a squirting expert at just 13 years old).
In order to come, you have to free your body and feel compassion towards it. Do not be ashamed of it, do not blame it, and dissolve that carnal conflict we have with ourselves.
In order to come, you have to get rid of your orgasm anxiety and learn to enjoy yourself, in all senses, and with all senses...
By: Memorie di Una Vagina
Credits: Pic1: Maisonrose - Pic2: Annebarlinck