My name is Jean and I am writing a book about women’s sexuality & orgasm. It is challenging some days. I feel like I’m an adult going through puberty again … learning about myself and my sexuality. Today I just feel like a dork really.
It is challenging going into an interview without a set of questions. But I want each interview to be unique, and so I don’t have a script or even decide beforehand what I’m going to ask them. I am in the moment, spontaneous, listening. And, yes, I am frightened sometimes that I will say something really stupid and sound completely ignorant. And I’ve done both, so you’d think I’d be more comfortable with the whole thing now.
It really pushes my sense of comfort to talk to a wide variety of people about their clit, their sex life and who they like to sleep with. It’s not so much the sex part that triggers me … it’s more the cool factor – like I’m afraid that they will be disappointed with the questions I ask, or that I won’t really see them for who they are and I will come across as patronizing, or I just won’t be “cool” — i.e. I will be the dork asking them incredibly personal questions and they will be like, “This is ridiculous. Why should I even answer your questions?” This has not happened to me – at least no one has said these things out loud!
In reality, the women have been really amazing and have imparted incredible knowledge, interesting stories and genuine feelings. They have even expressed how much they got out ot the interview and that it was very enlightening talking about their sex life.
There is a deep intimacy that comes during the interviews, usually, when you click and really start talking about this stuff. And just like with intimacy with sex, there is sometimes the awkwardness, the dorky feelings, and the insecurities. And that is where I’m at today.
“I used the word vulva as a child the way some kids said butt or penis or puke. It wasn’t a swear exactly, but I knew it had an edge to it that could stop adults cold in their tracks.” From the book Midwives by Chris Bohjalian.
I know nurses who work with women giving birth, and who still aren’t comfortable saying vulva or vagina to a pregnant woman! “How are you feeling down there?” they ask her, after she has torn and is swollen after giving birth. Maybe we feel the words are dirty or unpleasant? Or we feel uncomfortable using the words because we don’t use them as often as “hello, lunch, and water”?? Or maybe we just don’t describe ourselves that way, so why would we use those words with another woman?
I grew up in a pretty open household, but I never said vulva in front of my parents. Probably because I didn’t really know what it was until I was older. I remember when I was 13, asking my older brother what VD was. He said, “venereal disease,” and I was like okay, what the hell is that? He gave a description, but I didn’t really understand it until I needed to apply it in my life.
The word penis felt weird in my mouth as a young teenager. And although I had a vagina, it didn’t seem much easier to say. Then when I was 18, I got serious about wanting to have sex and I decided that if I couldn’t talk about my vagina and touch her, what business did I have sharing her with a guy?
So I started intellectually at first (because that felt safer and easier) – reading about my cycles, when I could get pregnant, what spinbarkeit was and how to find it. It was fun! And so began my journey of befriending my vagina and saying vulva to my partners and discussing STD testing and birth control before having sex. It actually makes sex so much more fun!
Sometimes it just feels like all I can think about is coming. It usually starts off with me having a fiery look with a man, or a conversation and I’m just burning up – can’t stop thinking about him. And I’m just horny every minute, like I can’t get enough. As I’m bringing myself to orgasm closer and closer, all I can think of is doing this again – of bringing myself to this point again. And I come, and usually really intensely and then I am sated for a little while, maybe an hour or so – and then it starts all over again.
And then on other more rare occasions, I can go for a week or more without thinking about orgasm. There is an expression, “the more you have it, the more you want it.” But if I get busy with work or hobbies and stop orgasming so much, I kind of forget how great it feels. It’s awful when that happens. But I only see that in retrospect, once I start orgasming again, I think “why did I stop doing this?”
It seems so easy sometimes to get trapped in a downward cycle of feeling bad and it builds on itself. I can’t be with someone because I feel terrible about myself, who would want me? Then I start eating food that makes me feel a temporary high, then a huge crash. What is there to love about me anyways? Any guy would be a fool who thought he liked. I used to think that. I felt that way, but never said it. I disrespected the guys who liked me – right off the bat. It sounds really silly now, but that’s really how I felt back then.
When I feel bombarded with things I have to do, stress at work, or not getting along with my friends, I start feeling numb. Feeling numb… that’s an oxymoron! I just try to stop feeling altogether because I don’t want to feel painful things. But unfortunately, it stops the sexy feelings too. It all shuts down. When I don’t feel good about myself, I don’t want to touch myself or have sex with someone. Well, honestly, sometimes I do and I just to try to forget about how bad I feel … but it’s never really very satisfying sex. Sure I may orgasm, but it’s not as full and powerful as it usually is.
So I have to start loving myself … paying attention to eating well, exercising, putting lotion on my body slowly after a shower, feeling my body all over and looking at myself in the mirror. All these things make me feel good, and then I remember how good it feels to feel good, just like how good sex feels even if I forget it sometimes. And the more I feel good, the more I want it.