The big O, as in Orgasm. Defined by a “discharge of sexual excitement,” by Wikipedia (so not a sexy definition, by the way), this is a topic that is possibly very misunderstood by both men and women. Well, at least a woman’s orgasm is. I think that while men are also capable of complex arousal and release, the basic mechanics are more easily understood. [I’ll let Viktor comment on this topic, should he wish, but I don’t think I can speak with authority here 😉.]
As I struggle with understanding my own body and its ability to surrender sexually, orgasm continues to be on my mind. And, this week, Layla Martin’s video focused on why 46% of women have difficulty with achieving orgasm, so it seems to be on a lot of people’s minds.
It just struck me as I typed that sentence that the language we use can complicate things still further… Achieve! Really, it’s not enough to simply have an orgasm, we have to achieve it! (And, interestingly, I unconsciously put that word in there; when I went to check the actual title for Layla’s video it reads as: “This is why 46% of women struggle to orgasm”). Plus, if you Google the word orgasm, you get 490,000,000 hits, including results such as “How Many Types Of Orgasm Am I Capable Of? (Hint: 14)” So, we now have 14 ways we are (or are not) achieving in this regard. Good grief! This is not to diminish the existence or value of the diversity of orgasms, but rather to underscore the extra burden of expectation that some might feel.
Consequently, there is so much pressure to perform and on top of that, it takes a woman much longer to get fully aroused. Yet, what messages do Hollywood, porn and others send us? Scenes in which the woman climaxes almost as soon as she is penetrated. Not to mention how quickly she is ready for penetration (as if), pushing us to presume that there must be something wrong with us or our bodies if we don’t respond similarly. And, as Layla explains, this is compounded by years of shame and similarly negative messages around our sexuality. In a word, we are not supposed to be sexual unless we are whores.
So, with all of this swirling in our heads, how are we supposed to allow ourselves to relax, surrender and truly let go? To let go of judgment, of self-consciousness, of doubt, of body shame, all of it? How do we banish our anxiety that we are taking too long, are too loud, too demanding or all of the above?
The more I examine my own climax, I realize that there is no one answer, but rather we need time, we need trust and we need truth. We need to feel truly desired. We need to feel better about ourselves and our bodies. We need to feel safe and comfortable to give feedback to our partner and, to do that, we need knowledge of what turns us on and what turns us off and, equally important, knowledge of our bodies (see Sheri Winston’s book: Anatomy of Female Arousal).
Moreover, having just returned from a tryst during which I was pleasantly surprised at how my body responded to his, I am thinking that practice might be critical, too. It may be that we need to continually awaken our bodies with pleasure in order to fully experience it. And, while I am still not experiencing earth-shattering orgasms with my partners*, I am finding that I am experiencing more pleasure during intercourse and that my body is discovering new ways to orgasm (not quite 14, yet). It may sound funny, but I never really understood what the big deal about sex (read penetration) was for so long. I think now I get it.
*These seem to be generally reserved for my vibrator… more on that some other time.