I posted the article “Against the Cult of the Pussy Easter” a few days ago on Facebook and it got some controversy–as well as quite a few hells to the yeah fomr various woman and other-gender-identified owners of clits and pussies. I worried posting it about what my male sex partners would think, and had at least one very negative and uncomfortable interaction with someone (NOT a sex partner, thank god) who just didn’t get what I was saying, and was chalking this up to failure of communication on both sides. He actually felt the article was akin to Dworkin era man-hating. That made me feel unheard and unhappy, and when I feel vulnerable and unheard, I double down. So here is MY history with so called pussy eating.
First of all: When I was in my twenties, I was married to someone who really didn’t like pussy. And that sucked. I think he was asexual, and when he went down on me in the early days he made icky faces and guess what? We stopped doing that and that felt pretty bad. And I was married and faithful for TEN years, so this was formative. We live in a culture that already tells us women that we are gross and stinky, and shit does that get internalized. Having someone close to me pile on more of the same caused a lot of pain. A part of me deeply needs the affirmation that my pussy is accepted and embraced, yummy and delightful. So when a lover goes down on me, one part of me is pretty happy…BUT
Then my next long term lover couldn’t take feedback. When I didn’t come when he went down on me, he got frustrated. And when I tried to give feedback or suggestions, he told me, with the brutal asshole honesty he was capable of: “I don’t want to do what you like, I want you to like what I do.” Charming, and unfortunately sums up a lot of what I’ve gotten from men. Other parts of our sexual dynamic worked great and were intensely satisfying, so we just quietly dropped it from our repertoire. But part of me really wanted to know if, with the right stimulation, I could come from it—so many other women could, it seemed. Given my history, the part of me that needed the validation was doubly hurt, and so it popped back up when I got mad at him, and became a bargaining chip: “If you take me back, I’ll go down on you more and THIS time I’ll listen.” Then it wouldn’t happen and I was ambivalent. It was never the real reason I would take him back, and having someone go down on me as part of a deal? Not fucking sexy. But I still wanted the affirmation and the care and the attention.
This difficulty giving good feedback to my partners is another source of guilt and anxiety. I’m great at telling people when they’re doing something I like, but telling them what I don’t like or what I might like is a lot harder. Most of my partners are great people who deserve and want honest communication from me, but jerks do damage. Just last year a guy started kissing me, and I wasn’t into it. I couldn’t tell if it was the guy or the way he was kissing me, so I stopped him and gave him some feedback on how I like to be kissed. He replied, “I’m not into being topped.” And now typing that makes me feel white hot rage, because if there is one thing I NEED—and, fuck it, DESERVE– from prospective partners it is to know they want and value knowing how to please me. To have that labeled “topping” is outrageous. But when I try to give feedback to men I often get a feeling of blocked anxiety: am I with someone who will shut me down? Or listen? I have been shut down too often, and that has hurt me as well as all the men who genuinely want to please me.
And as if that weren’t bad enough— there are my sound issues. I have intense misophonia—a visceral reaction to certain sounds that make my brain explode with pain, anger and anxiety. Eating sounds especially. Chomping, chewing, smacking, slurping, oh my god ugh. And my abusive father made me eat dinner with the family in a thick brooding atmosphere of mutual loathing every night so NOW I have PTSD layered into my sensory sensitivities that are probably undiagnosed autism in the first place and you know what’s a conversation I don’t really want to have? “Hi new partner! I am glad you are so robustly and noisily enjoying my pussy but you are causing me to have a PTSD reaction and THIS IS REALLY NOT WORKING FOR ME!!!!!AAAAAAAAAACK!”
Not all men are loud. But some are. So all of this together means that when a guy dives for the pussy without asking/checking in to see if I want that first—I feel a wave of anxiety.
So why go there when I can direct them instead to my vagina? Because where my clitoral orgasms are like an elusive snow leopard, requiring weeks of stalking in hard conditions for a rare sighting, my vagina is a golden retriever—it’s always looking to play, and it always wants a bone. Stimulate me in the right place and I will have loud happy and intense sexual peaks, occasionally with fun squirting action. BUT ARE THEY ORGASMS? They lack the distinctive build up and release, followed by a wash of opiate-like pleasure of the clitoral orgasms. When I masturbate, it’s clitoral every time. But with partners, it’s more fun and satisfying to have this other orgasmic experience. A research team in Italy recently said that only the clitoral orgasm is the true orgasm, and that makes me sad. I feel like I have two different kinds of orgasms—the social easy vaginal kind and the usually more solo clitoral. If my partners thought that they weren’t “really” giving me orgasms they might very naturally try harder with the whole clitoral thing, which would make me more anxious for my “failure” to come from oral.
Except for that one time when I did. More on that later.
I want to be happy and I want my partners to be happy and I DON’T want to go into philosophical speculation about what is and isn’t an orgasm. But if I call these experiences orgasms, am I lying?
Last weekend I had the really amazing experience of playing with two devastatingly hot people. The guy asked to go down on us. I got brave—I’m working on it and they were easy to be brave with—and told them about my sound issues. He went down on her while I held her. I was still worried about the sound but either he deeply got it and was making an effort or he just wasn’t a noisy boy—either way, relief! And I got to hold her while she came, twice. It was an amazing experience to hold her gorgeous body and feel her quiver and shake, to watch the whole thing with no worry about my own reaction. But there I also felt this flash of jealousy, that she could have this, so easily, with a new partner, and I felt insecurity that he would prefer her to me because making her come was so easy and fun, and I’m such a big bag of awkward and complications and weird. She works and I’m broken, I briefly thought. I know better though to buy into that kind of thinking and I dropped the storyline and came back to being in that moment with these two great people. But those thoughts and feelings ran through me.
MAD props to him, though, for both his skills and communications, and he did some stuff to me with his hands that made me very happy and noisy indeed, and there was a drum circle in the room, which is usually not my things, but there was a crashing crescendo of sexual energy and percussion followed by laughter and sweetness and it was…great. Wouldn’t have traded it for the world. But still the sight of him lapping at her sweet pussy made me feel a moment of hot searing want for that thing I can’t seem to have. Except that once.
But? That one time? I was with a guy who ACTUALLY made me come. HUZZAH! A miracle! But all the conditions had to be right, and I don’t even know what all the conditions that made it work were, and even he could not repeat it. But if you are a person who ever plays with me and you want to know all about this without me having to give you an extended lecture first, here’s what was happening…and what I think might work.
What was happening:
- I felt an intense romantic and passionate connection with him and had been pining for him, so I went in at white hot sexual heat. Will that happen again? I have come to realize that with my history of abuse, I feel these feelings for people who are BAD for me (this definitely included this guy). I don’t trust these feelings anymore, so how can I get to a place where I feel this much connection and lust for my partner. Drugs? Sexual hypnosis? Witchcraft?
- I orgasm starved myself because I knew he was going to try. But doing this with the wrong partner could put too much pressure on the experience, so who knows if that would ever work again?
- He did a great job of making me feel he was building arousal, not going straight to his A game, didn’t even expect it happen any time soon, and that it was okay if it didn’t happen but he was going to love doing it. All of that helped me relax.
- He did that thing I like. AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS– or how to get anyone else to do it. But he was really good at it. Generally I feel like the stimulation is not quite intense enough. More pressure? More suction? More cowbell? Something.
- He had fingers EVERYWHERE. Pussy and ass. Was this necessary to making it happen? Dunno. Maybe. Maybe I need to be overstimulated until my body gives up and overloads.
- I had to thrust. I generally have to move quite a bit to have a clitoral orgasm, even by myself, and I think for most people maintainingg the oral contact and getting the right stimulation while I’m moving all around presents a challenge. Add fingers into the mix and that’s a whole bunch of balls in the air.
- I have to fantasize—with myself or with a partner. And this makes me feel a little guilty and checked out and not quite fully there. I also need to be really really comfortable with someone to feel able to concentrate on my fantasy. Its often easier and more satisfying to just connect to the person I’m with and not worry about the orgasm.
- I wasn’t quite lying all the way down, more like leaning back on a couch. Necessary? Helpful? I have no fucking clue.
Here’s what I think might help, should you ever want to try it but OH MY GOD please don’t come up to me and ask if you can take the challenge because that will in itself turn me off so fast and make me feel like you weren’t hearing what I was saying at all, and if you’re not already a sexual partner of mine, there would be no better way to make sure you never will be. BUT should you ever be lucky enough to have me on my back or maybe if you are with a woman who is willing but complicated like me, here are some things to try:
- Music—helps with my sound issues, relaxes me, helps me get out of my head.
- Pot? Maybe? Sometimes helps me get to orgasm faster/might help me relax and concentrate in the right way.
- Don’t dive for the pussy. Take your time getting there. Start soft. Settle in. Build. Ramp up.
- Ask for feedback. Beg for feedback. Play clitoral optometrist: better like this? Or like this? How about this? Or better like that?
- Stop and start. When I masturbate, there is a lot of stopping and starting, getting close and not quite getting there and then going back to it more aroused then I was the last time. Even by myself it generally takes a loooong time. So…let’s stop and do something else—like maybe we could take turns? I love sucking dick so goddamn much. It’s so much easier. Then come back to me.
But yeah…as you can see, this shit is complicated. So when a guy hits me up on OKCupid and tells me he just wants to go down on me for hours, I feel like I’m “supposed” to go, oh yippee! A man who focuses on my pleasure! But all I actually think is, that sounds really and truly horrible. It’s definitely not the golden ticket to my pleasure factory. It comes off as creepy and leering and deeply unpleasant…and that’s not really sexy.
I guess the takeaway from this is that if you’re someone who wants to have sex with owners of clits and vaginas, you have to really get that patriarchy. Fucks. Us. Up. I personally have weathered an abusive father, three sexual assaults, and multiple terrible boyfriends, as well as a lifetime of constrictive and often contradictory messages about what a woman should be like and feel like sexually. And I’m not even fucking unusual. So a lot of us need a LOT of communication and patience, and for you not to assume anything about what we might like: ask for and then ask again and then thank us for feedback. Then, just maybe, we will all have better sex.