(day 1, orgasm 1 — who’s keeping count?)
I just had an excellent little half-hour of sweaty sex, tumbly and moaning under my covers. And I was all alone. This is a bone-deep bedrock of my sexuality, a place of radical self care, and I’m claiming it for all to hear.
I woke up at 6, the light was coming up outside the window, I rolled over in this new bed in my new apartment in this newly reframed life, put on a favorite podcast (we love whodat), nestled into the nest I make of all my pillows, and grabbed for my good (good vibes, thankyouverymuch) g-spot vibrator (which I have maybe never actually used on my g-spot) (and which is purple like everything else in my bedroom, because I am trying to have the gayest bedroom in Oakland these days), and said, Good morning, body, Thank you. Here we go.
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In one of my favorite books about writing, Elizabeth Benedict says:
As sexual activities go, in literature as in life, masturbation has its limitations. And although we may agree, at least sotto voce, that it is the primary sexual activity of mankind, there is no getting around the fact that you usually do it when you don’t have any better offers. When you are alone (read: lonely; read: abandoned) or when you feel you might as well be. the plain truth is that it doesn’t do anything to help your social life. Alas, it is often a reminder that you don’t have one or that there’s something missing from the one you have. (The Joy of Writing Sex, pp 189)
I think it goes without saying that I could not disagree more, and I’m here, with this blog project, to come out as a masturbate-a-fan, as a cheerleader for self pleasuring. I want us to undo this terrible, damaging narrative: that masturbation indicates, by virtue of its very happening, a failure, on the part of the masturbator, to get some better offers, to have any sort of social life to speak of. When we capitulate to this narrative, we do a violence to ourselves, and we relinquish the pleasure and knowledge we receive whenever we lay our hands on our own bodies and deliver delight.
For folks who have survived trauma (and when it comes to erotic wellness, there are so few of us in the US or other parts of the world who make it through with our psyches unscathed), masturbation is a way to learn the true contours of what someone else has turned into a battleground; it’s a way to bring life back to a deathscape, a way to retrace, with kindness or fear, the very scene of the crime. It’s a way to learn what kind of touch we like, and how we like it. It’s a way even, as in my case, to take back the exact touches, imaginings and convulsings that were forced upon me (I mean take the way my stepfather trained my hands to move on my own body and bring the orgasm he required before he would stop harming me for that morning/afternoon/evening/phone call) and let them, over almost twenty years now, blossom into new meaning and new possibility.
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My body took a little bit to wake up this morning, my head took awhile to settle into what we were meant to be focusing on: not how late this masturbation was beginning (how could I possibly imagine to put masturbation on a schedule?), not this blog and how I wanted to describe everything to you, not what all else needed to happen today/this week/this weekend/this month… come back down, I’d say to my racing brain; be right here right here right here, and I’d feel around with the tip of the vibrator, pushing against clit, inside just swelling lips, yes, I’m telling you this, and what I mean to say is that slowly I settled into what was actually happening: me loving my own body to orgasm first thing on a Tuesday morning, letting all my muscles tense and loosen, letting the moans escape from my own lips, imagining you letting me wake you with my lips between your legs, giving myself a little fantasy to jump and sing around the sensations between my legs.
I did it the old way this morning: under the covers (pulled up to my chest), with a vibrator and the music loud around me. This was the way I came for years, the music loud to (somehow, I imagined) mask the vibrations, and I could escape all the way into fantasy, I could move hard into the imagining of some faceless woman getting fucked by any number of faceless guys, I didn’t really have to be part of the equation at all. You understand, right? This was about survival — this was about being able to give myself the small thread of pleasure/trauma re-enactment of orgasm; for years and years it was always both: pleasure and then the nausea that followed immediately in orgasm’s wake.
This morning I wanted to do everything while I was masturbating: I wanted to be dancing (the music doesn’t help with that), I wanted to be writing down exactly all that was happening, I wanted to forget everything and just fall into sensation. I took deep breaths, shoved a little into that fantasy–I nudged between fantasy and the exactness of my experience: these days, my orgasm doesn’t come so easy if I try to ignore what I’m doing, if I think I’m going to disappear into fantasy. These days, I’m actually having fantasies that I appear in, that people I adore appear in, that are based in my known and consensual reality, which is a Brand New Thing. These days, my body wants me aware, only wants to come when I am feeling it, when I am in my body.
When I am in my body. Do I have to explain what a big deal this is? That’s precisely the why of this project. I’ll spend the next month explaining what a big deal this is.
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This blog project is not going to be a place of simple, unqualified celebration, because I understand that masturbation can be used to damaging effect as well, have spent years when I only felt like shit after I got myself off, used fantasies that made me feel like a monster after I came — and understand, too, that sometimes even the best orgasm leaves us wanting something more. Loving ourselves now can’t change what happened before. But it can change the landscape now, it can alter our every day. This morning, a couple hours now after coming, I still feel a little throbby, still feel my shoulder and back muscles relaxed, still swell inside with that release of pleasure. The morning orgasm alters how I enter into my day.
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I got sweaty under the sheets and comforter this morning, and filled my empty apartment with my own moans. The puppy woke up and tried to get my attention at about 6:30; this is the problem with coming in bed instead of the shower — not being a fan of baths, she tends not to interrupt me in there, no matter how much noise I’m making.
This morning, after I came, I did what I always do these days: I laughed, giggly and low, delighted. I felt how turned on I was, how I could easily have continued, maybe carried myself on and through to another orgasm — I don’t even feel around anymore for the nausea, for that old horror, for the place in me that carried my stepfather’s smile and scent on the contractions my cunt took while coming.
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I often stop touching myself (alone) when I am in a long-term relationship, and then I find some part of my sexual self has shut down, begins to disassemble, because I have turned away from what has been a fundamental part of both my healing and my sexuality: getting myself off is one of the most consistent self-care practices I’ve actually been able to engage in over these years of trauma aftermath. But I buy into the narrative that Benedict articulates above: someone else is supposed to be the one who gives me orgasms, and if I can’t let them bring me off, there’s something wrong with me. If I give myself orgasms, I’m taking something away from my partners, I think; so I stop. And then I get angry and disappointed, because I’m missing that part of my sex. And so I start in with the furtive orgasms, spreading out on the floor of the bathroom, on the dirty bathmat, or in the bathroom at work (you may sense a theme at work here) — trying to come fast (a feat), keeping quiet (not difficult until recently), coming into a place of both joy and guilt, because why? No one else is supposed to know that I’m stealing this orgasm from my lovers’ fingers. Please know that no lover has ever communicated this to me; it’s my own internalization of society’s beliefs about coming home into our own bodies, coming into our own hands or vibrators or shower heads or pillows or stuffed animals or jeans’ seams or wherever/however else we come.
We get to know our own bodies. We get to hold our own orgasms between our teeth, and love them.
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This is the challenge I’ve set for myself this months: thirty days, thirty (at least!) orgasms, thirty maturation/orgasm-centric blog posts. It’s National Masturbation Month: you can come home into your own hands, too! Please share your orgasm and masturbation stories with us — we get so much permission for our own particularities when we learn about one another’s practices and experiences; I mean, it becomes more ok that I come in the ways I come when I learn that other people come in all different ways, too! And if you enter into your own daily-orgasm practice for this month, will you post here now and again, letting us know how it’s going, what effect it’s having on your life?
Be easy with you and your body. Thanks for reading — come again tomorrow!