We have many lessons to learn, the female of the species, as we grow and change in life. As well as impressing upon us the disability of weakness, society also teaches us other valuable lessons such as “women are not sexual creatures!” Oh, naturally, we’re sexually arousing, but our bodies are functional – to provoke our men, carry their babies and then to feed the offspring. What society teaches us is that women do not have sexual fantasies. Women do not masturbate; they don’t read erotica or watch pornography; their goal in seducing a man is purely asexual. If a woman does enjoy sex, does seek it out, she is considered to be, if not a nymphomaniac, then at least a slut. In fact, the affliction that is nymphomania applies only to women. There is no technical term for male sex addiction.
As I write, I realise how archaic this way of thinking is and, whilst inhibition on this scale may come as a shock to some people, others will v.much identify with it, especially the older generations. It’s true that women are gradually beginning to open up about sex – it is no longer quite the taboo it once was and maybe Sex and the City goes some way towards helping in that regard (or maybe SATC was borne of a new openness to sex). But some women are still unable to discuss sex and everything that pertains thereto. Ann Summers has brought sex toys to the high street, which is a massive leap forward in my opinion. No more the Tupperware Party – the Ann Summers Party takes precedence (and Amen to that!)
My good friend, El Kitten, was the first person I had real conversations about sex with and this will be news to her. I remember being quite taken aback by some of the subjects she so frankly broached when we first became friends, but over time, it became perfectly normal and, might I add, a perfectly natural topic to discuss. Now I’m the one who rocks the conversational boat in other friendship groups – a little gift from the Kitty and my sincerest thanks go to her.
My guess is that women were originally brought up with this inhibition about sex in order to prevent mishaps in the form of bastard children, not that it worked particularly well, and to keep the woman in the home where she belonged, not out having affairs. Perhaps with the decay of female suppression, sex is gradually becoming as equal as most other avenues of life. But we’re not quite there yet.
In the words of Julie Andrews: let’s start at the very beginning. I’m not sure at what age the average person discovers masturbation. It is said that when babies rock in their nappies, that is what they are doing; however, in a bid to prevent child abuse, we are programmed to automatically disassociate anything sexual with children and the idea that babies masturbate is rather abhorrent. Maybe we are born sexually aware; I’m not sure anyone remembers back that far and that clearly. But, if this is the case, there is a point, after you are a baby and before you are left to your own devices, where the laws of society are imposed upon you in order to prepare you for your western future, and these rules include: “Don’t pick your nose, don’t scrape scabs, don’t scratch, don’t suck your thumb. Don’t put your fingers into any orifices at all” in short: “Do not touch your private places!”
I was nowhere near adolescence when I discovered masturbation. I didn’t even know what I was doing at the time or why it felt the way it did. I remember thinking that it must just be me and being embarrassed, but not even being sure what was embarrassing. Even when I was told, in a v.methodical way, what masturbation was, I didn’t really relate to it and thought that what I did was something different. Something weird. For a start, I was always thinking strange things when I did it and there was no mention of that in any of the books I’d read. Eddie Munster from The Munsters Today made something stir in my knickers, so I thought about kissing him (nothing more, mind – should give you some idea of the age I was). I still have a thing for men in eyeliner and vampires, so it goes… Other strange fantasies involved Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (something about the shade of his bandana, maybe), Super Ted, Tin Tin and She-Ra. Naturally, my fantasies became more three dimensional as I grew up.
The difference here is that, whilst I spent many years carrying on thus with burning, shame-faced fervour, wondering what was wrong with me, boys were stealing and sharing porn mags right left and centre. At least, they were by the time I got to secondary school. This is something I only discovered recently. Back then, I remember feeling incredibly naughty when a friend and I discovered a VHS of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in her parents’ bedroom. And I’ll never forget stumbling into a game of Soggy Biscuit that was going on behind the drama studio at Glossopdale CC… you know who you are! For the boys, despite warnings that they’d go blind, masturbation was accepted and expected; even laughed about amongst the elders. People I know laugh about the things they’ve found on their sons’ computers. It is, however, never considered appropriate to make similar jokes about the contents of a daughter’s download folder.
Yet we know that women are just as aroused by pornographic images as men. I recently started writing a blog about the lack of pornography aimed at women and it really is lacking. Without delving too deeply, the mere fact of the male target audience tells a story. In essence, it shows us the sort of people who are interested in pornography and the sort of people who find it inaccessible. Abby Winters is the only female orientated pornographer that springs to mind, although Viv Thomas makes a pretty good job of it too. I’m sure there is more stuff for us ladies out there, but in comparison to the sheer volume of male-orientated porn, it’s a pretty feeble offering.
When we eventually got ourselves connected to the internet, back in the ‘90s when AOL took several hours and an alarming amount of screeching and pinging to load, I came across a few images and felt deliciously excited and immediately like everyone could see what I could see. But either pornography wasn’t so rife online when the internet first came to the generic household or there were parental locks on the computer.
According to various sources I discovered online, somewhere between forty and sixty percent of women do not admit to masturbating. I mentioned this to a friend whose reaction summed up my thoughts on this statistic exactly: “There are only wankers and liars.”
I had a lot of sex before I enjoyed it. I had a lot of sex after I discovered I enjoyed it, but long before I realised that there was nothing wrong with enjoying it*. I’m not sure what block I fought my way over to come to this realisation, but once on the other side, I was quite angry that nobody had told me this before. Although my mother told me honestly about where babies came from, when I asked, and what sexual intercourse involved, one’s mother is not really the person to ask about the more intimate ins and outs of the thing. I’d always had a sneaking suspicion that sex wasn’t something that I should be doing anyway, let alone enjoying. Of course, there were sex scenes in films that were utterly unconvincing and for which all family members would avert eyes or start talking. For a long time, I thought Caddy Shack was the rudest thing I’d ever seen. It could all have changed since the widespread use of the internet, but when I was growing up, I didn’t know about pornography. Or rather, I knew about it, but really didn’t have the foggiest as to what it entailed. I knew there would be naked people and probably some putting of genitalia into other genitalia, but that was pretty much all I had to go on.
Now, this may come as a shock to people who met me in more recent years, but I have been in relationships where, after quite a short while, I just was not interested in sex. I was made to believe that this was my fault – that I was v.selfishly withholding what I should offer a partner. Where the majority of married couples are concerned, there lingers the afore-mentioned asexuality – once you’ve snared the man with your feminine wiles and got the thing locked down, there really is no need for any more of that nonsense. For me (and, indeed, the cause of the “asexuality”), the lack of interest was partly down to the sense of duty that went hand in hand with the act, as well as the inhibitions above – I rarely climaxed; I felt too fat to go on top, I was self-conscious of my lady parts – the way they must look, smell, taste; I was unsure that what I was doing was right; I didn’t think that I was the reason the person I was with was turned on. And all my life I’d heard men joking that women didn’t like sex. In short, I figured it was not for girls, what with it being rather undignified and generally unsatisfactory.
Each relationship I’ve had has taught me something new in the bedroom (I don’t include flings here because they’ve been a mixed bag). And as my confidence grew, so did my ability to do, or to ask for, what I wanted; to be able to say things like: “Slow down” was a breakthrough. Before this revelation, I had often lain there thinking: “This is hurting!” and feeling that I was unable to say anything about it**. The key for me was definitely to be more demanding. To stop thinking and start acting. But it was a slow and self-conscious process to break away from everything I had previously held store by.
The point is that once you realise that you have absolutely no duty to let someone into your body – that the decision is yours – and once you get your head around the fact that during sex is not a time to worry about image, the libido will return tenfold, partly because the sex will be more enjoyable.
THE BIG O
The average woman takes nearly twenty minutes to reach orgasm. Some women never orgasm. Some women have only had clitoral orgasms. Some women can’t orgasm during sex. Most women have never ejaculated.
Whatever the situation, if all physical parts are correct and present, all of the above concerns stem from the mind. True, I find it almost impossible to orgasm if I’m with someone who doesn’t stimulate me on a deeper level than lust (I’m not trying to suggest that I can only reach climax if I am in love, but there has to be a deeper connection). Don’t ask me why – that’s my hang-up. But once I realised that sex wasn’t something to be ashamed of or a topic to be avoided, and once I realised that orgasm requires nothing more than abandon, I was away. An ex once said of me, with no small amount of distaste: “You come like a man.” I take this to mean that I orgasm quickly, without a care as to the look on my face – not for me the sexy pout, flushed cheeks and yes yes yeses. I should imagine, although I don’t know, that I generally come across as a crazed ginger creature with a gurn of concentration on my screwed up mug. I speculate. But I don’t see why I, or any woman for that matter, should care about facial expressions at the point of no return. For a start, worrying about how you look during sex is a key factor in failure to land. And there is nothing so “special” than the look on a man’s coming face: teeth bared, eyes boggling, head thrown back… the orgasm is hard work. Which means working hard. Which means some form of abandonment must be involved in order to focus on your goal. If you want to come hard and fast, you have to forget to worry about what you think the other person is thinking of you – because whatever it is you think they’re thinking, they’re not!
I do maintain, though, that the main reason some women are unable to reach the wondrous O is because of the pressure we rest on it. It is, once again, a case of subscribing to a belief that’s imposed upon us from birth. If women are constantly told that it’s hard for them to orgasm, they’re going to find it hard to orgasm. And worry of any description doesn’t help. To make matters worse, if you’re too preoccupied to orgasm, you probably don’t believe in it at all. I know I didn’t for a long time. Then for a while after that, I didn’t believe women could orgasm during sex. Then I didn’t believe in vaginal orgasms. Lastly, I didn’t believe in female ejaculation. What I didn’t realise at each of these points is that the reason I didn’t believe is because I’d never experienced, so it didn’t occur to me to strive or expect these things. I thought that either women who talked about orgasms, vaginal orgasms and orgasms during sex were lying or that there was something wrong with me. I just could not imagine it happening. I first encountered female ejaculation whilst watching an episode of Sex and the City (one of the characters ejaculated, not me) and thought it sounded so ridiculous and far fetched. I heard of it again in The L Word and thought that added a certain weight to the concept. Still, I wasn’t sure about it. Indeed, it was late last year when I discovered that this little female delight was also v.much true…
Whatever your hang up – let it go, I beg of you. It’s so v.liberating when you discover yet another wonder achievable by the female body.
* Although, there was a lot wrong with enjoying it at my mother’s house!
** Admittedly, there were complications with me – it was eventually discovered that I’d been suffering from endometriosis for years, causing agonising periods and dyspareunia. Perhaps it was post-operation that sex became something that it was possible to really enjoy, although I had had good sex prior to that. However, I do know, now that it’s no longer an issue for me, that I was not alone in my disregard of sex. Note the term “was” – it’s now one of my favourite things in the world!
Best Sex Toy: Rabbit Three Way (0 to O in 60 seconds)
Best Foreplay: Fingers… all of them!
Best Straight Position: Reverse Cowgirl
Best Pornography: Abby Winters
Best Literature: Anaïs Nin ~ Delta of Venus
Best Photography: modfetish.com
Best Tweets: @EdenCafe