I was faking it…

one woman’s search for orgasm

Posts Tagged ‘Betty Dodson

Yes, ma’m

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Jim Carey’s latest movie, Yes Man  is about a man who stops saying no and starts saying yes to everything in life.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I liked the ‘Yes’ idea so much I decided to apply it to sex.

However, unlike the movie version, where Carey accepts an elderly woman’s offer for oral sex just because he’s committed to the vow of Yes, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start accepting intercourse offers from strange men on the street.

What I’m saying is yes to masturbation—for me and everyone else.

On the website, Christian Nymphos one advice columnist by the name of Cinnamon Sticks, lays out her view on the question of whether masturbation is a sin or not,

God has been clear about lust. In His Kingdom, lust and adultery are no different from one another. So to get aroused from pornography and then masturbate with lust in one’s heart would be sin. This would displease the Lord not because touching yourself sexually is sin, but because 1) the person being lusted after is one of His kids and it disrespects them, 2) the person being lusted after belongs to their spouse (either now or in the future) and it disrespects their relationship with one another and 3) what a person focuses on when they orgasm becomes a tie in their soul to that thing which damages the sexual relationships they might have that God established and blessed as right. (source)

Cinnamon’s explanation is like reading the Face Book Terms of Service: you can do this, but you can’t do that. Touching yourself sexually is okay, but not if you’re thinking about someone other than your partner, and not if you do it so much that you become obsessed about it and miss Sunday mass, and not if you…

is it me or does this look like an ad for prosac?

is it me or does this look like an ad for prosac?

Confused yet? I know I was. And yet, I should confess my own attitude towards masturbation, up until recently, wasn’t much more straightforward.  Sure, I knew that boys and men masturbated, but years ago, whe I discovered a bottle of baby oil next to the computer screen, a whole host of negative feelings around masturbation surfaced.

“Were you whacking off at the computer?” I accused my then-boyfriends, hands clenched against my hip.  All I needed was an apron and rolling pin to complete my ‘irate housewife’  impersonation,

“Maybe,” he said, with a look of guilt on his face.

“To porn?” I said.

“Maybe,” he said.

“That’s disgusting,” I said—just in case he didn’t already feel bad enough.

I never saw the baby oil next to the computer again

Years later, I’ve finally realized that I was mean and a bully that day. Part of me of just felt guilty that he needed to masturbate because I thought it meant our sex life wasn’t good enough, and part of me was reacting to deeply engrained views of masturbation as being wrong (see previous post).

I apologize. Sorry, Mark, for acting as though there was something disgusting or perverted about self-pleasure, self-loving, and sexual expression, and I’m sorry for every time you felt the need to hide your masturbation from me afterwards.

The great thing is, that now that I can finally see that it’s okay if my partner’s masturbate, with or without me, what Betty Dodson calls ‘self-loving’ I’ve finally allowed myself to accept it as a practice in my own life.

Like last night, when I announced to my fiancé that I was going to masturbate in the bedroom. It felt good to say that aloud.
“Cool,” he said, with a shrug. It’s true, it was that easy. No mockery, no raised eyebrow, no dry heaving, just ‘cool’. I smiled as I shut the door.

But saying ‘yes’ to masturbation isn’t just about embracing, rather than judging the act of masturbation on general terms, for me it’s also about saying yes on a very intimate level.

Describing her own struggle to sexual fulfillment, Betty Dodson writes:

Until my mid-thirties … guilt, fear, anger and self-pity, deprived me of erotic thoughts. These classical body/mind blocks impeded the flow of my sex energy…I always held back because, basically I was embarrassed about sex. All my fear and embarrassment gradually disappeared after I made a decision to embrace sexuality” (source, p. 98).

Don’t hold back. Don’t say no. Don’t judge. Just love and celebrate the erotic sensations in your body.

With that sage advice in my head as I lay on the bed last night, vibrator in hand, I decided to stop thinking about whether I was going to have an orgasm, and how would I know if it really was one, and to simply assume that every shiver of sexual pleasure radiating from my clitoris was an orgasm. No judgment.

My hips rocked, my breathing was deep, and my mouth whispered words of encouragement as I nuzzled the vibrator up to my genitals. My body said yes to orgasms.

When I finally emerged from the bedroom, my fiancé, of course, asked me the question,

“So did you orgasm?” I thought about it for a second. I might not have experienced an volcanic eruption of pleasure, but I did more fully experience the pleasure of my body–and I think if I focus on those sensations instead of always looking towards the peak I may just wind up getting there.

taking myself for a test drive

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Masturbation is a way for all of us to learn about sexual response. It’s an opportunity to explore our bodies and minds for all those sexual secrets we’ve been taught to hide, even from ourselves.
Betty Dodson, Sex for One: the joy of self loving

So far as machines go, my vibrator looks as basic as they come (no pun intended).  I don’t need to load any programs, or plug in any cords, and there’s only one button: the on/off switch.

complicated

complicated

Naturally, I figured that learning to operate it would be easy—right?

My clitoris, which continued to twitch like a post-marathon quadriceps, for about an hour after my orientation’ session, however would probably disagree. 

Masturbating to orgasm, no matter how user-friendly your tools look, is not easy.

According to Betty Dodson, author of Sex for One: the joy of self-loving,  “Sexual skills are like any other skills; they’re not magically inherited, they have to be learned” (source, 4).

From my past few weeks of reading up on female orgasm, and doing some preliminary ‘field work’ in the area, I had learned enough to know that if I wanted to explore the full potential of my first vibrator, I’d need to take it slowly  (a month ago, on the other hand, I probably would have shoved the thing into my privates, felt no pleasure and confirmed my belief that I am incapable of orgasm).

I found a comfortable spot to lie down on my bed and started to gently rub myself in the places that I know (see previous post) feel good.  When the familiar throbbing sensations began pulsing from my pleasure zone, I flipped the switch and well, then I shoved it in.

When I was 12 years old, I tried to learn the clarinet.  Though an aesthetically beautiful instrument, with its long polished trunk and gentle curves, the sounds my clarinet made during those early practice session sounded like a combination of a circus elephant stampeding the crowd and a classroom full of primary students dragging their fingers against the chalkboard.

Not complicated

Not complicated

The sensations that rippled through my body next reminded me a lot of those shrill clarinet honks, mixed with a wonderful undercurrent velvety bliss.

It was pleasure and pain at the same time—and something I’d never known my body could do.

However, despite those similarities, there is, I quickly discovered, a big difference between learning to play the clarinet and learning to play my vibrator: consistency. With the clarinet, the sounds I made were consistently loud (and bad). With the vibrator, I never knew what was coming next.

Sometimes the volume blasted to full and I’d feel like I never wanted to do anything but lie in my bed with my little battery-operated friend, and then all of a sudden it would mute out entirely and I’d find myself checking the time on the digital clock on my bedside table to see how much time had passed.  At this point, I’d usually remember that I was supposed to be focusing on the ‘moment’, feel a wave of frustration, get angry because nothing was happening and then crank up the little round dial at the bottom of the handle to send another blast across my genitals.

It was a cycle that looked and felt nothing like the gentle, measured touch that sex therapists claim is the ‘secret’ to nurturing sexual climax in women.  Bascially, my masturbation session lacked anything resembling ‘control’.

So, I didn’t orgasm, nor did I master the vibrator, or master my clitoris.

But then, I didn’t learn to play a decent ‘c’ note the first time I picked up a clarinet either.

So, as they say, practice makes perfect–now all I need is some rechargeable batteries.