Friday, March 9, 2012

Two things I've read recently on come correct have me thinking about female sexual discovery.

I will quote them for you in full.

1. "Nobody told me I had a clitoris. Nobody told me I was capable of having orgasms. For five years I was given 'sex education.' It mostly consisted of periods and condoms. It didn't talk about consent. It didn't talk about the actual mechanics of sex, about arousal and lubrication and oscillation. It didn't tell me a single thing about relationships and it didn't tell me I had a clitoris. I only know now because of the internet. Nobody entrusted with my care and education has ever told me that the female orgasm exists, or about the parts of my anatomy necessary for it. I didn't find my clitoris until I was eighteen, after six years of active sexuality. That made me angry."
-- (Source) (via)
2. "Although most boys figure out how to bring themselves to orgasm by age thirteen, half of girls don’t have their first orgasms until their late teens, twenties, or beyond. Teenage girls widely agree that they get the message loud and clear that masturbation is something boys do, but girls don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t. The cultural focus on intercourse tells young women to expect they’ll begin to experience sexual pleasure once they have sex with a man (whether or not they’re even interested in sex with men). Nearly all teen boys, on the other hand, experience sexual pleasure long before they get their hands—or other body parts—into a partner’s pants. Despite the massive advances in women’s equality, young women’s sexuality is stuck in a surprising paradox. Young women are sold provocative clothes but aren’t taught where to find their own clitoris. Many girls give their boyfriends oral sex, but are too uncomfortable with their own bodies to allow the guys to return the favor. It’s still a radical act to say that women need and deserve access to information about their own sexual pleasure—not just about the risks and negative consequences of sex."
-- Dorian Solot, I Love Female Orgasm: An Extraordinary Orgasm Guide. (via)

Let me begin by stating that I do not, in any way, want to belittle or invalidate the experiences of the first woman, and/or women who can identify with that story, or those of the young women describe in the second passage. Secondly, I am all kinds of entirely in support of revamping the sex education system in this country to like, actually be somewhat useful in people's lives. While it was not really my experience at all, I recognize that we live in a culture that denigrates or, at best, avoids the topic of female masturbation, and if you know anything about me, you know that this pisses me off. 

All of that being said, I just...fundamentally don't understand how one can get to adulthood (or near-adulthood) without knowing one's own anatomy. Yeah, okay, maybe you don't know the WORDS for what each body part is called, because sex education sucks in this country, but I guess I'm just struggling with the concept of needing to be "taught" that one has a clitoris. I don't remember when I learned the word clitoris. It was probably in high school. But I've known that touching/rubbing a particular spot down there feels ah-ma-zing since I was about 8 years old. I think I discovered it accidentally when I was taking a bath or going to the bathroom or something, but I had already been exploring my body. I very distinctly remember my stepbrother, who is a few months younger than me, once making the argument when we were small children that girls pee out of their butts, and while I knew that wasn't true and explained that there was another hole. Very soon after this conversation, I decided that I wanted to know more of what it looked like, so that I could better debunk my silly brother's arguments, so at the next opportunity of a full length mirror (in my aunt's room at my grandmother's house), I dropped my pants, bent all the way over, and looked at myself upside down with my head between my legs. 

I don't remember my first orgasm, but I know that it was most likely in about the third grade. I hadn't needed anyone to tell me these body parts existed in order for me to explore them, and exploring them led directly to pleasure, so I explored rather often. The first time I was ever even exposed to the concept that some people thought this was a bad thing to do was in a book on puberty that was probably called Your Changing Body or something equivalent that my mother bought for me after I first got my period (at the age of 9). I feel like there was like, one page about masturbation, and somewhere in it it contained the line "Some girls don't like to do it," or something similar. I felt sorry for those girls then, and I still do.

I guess what I take issue with in these passages is the implied idea that one needs to be formally introduced to something to have any conception of it. It gives me the eerie sense that a woman's sexuality is something she needs to be taught or GIVEN by someone else, rather than something inherently part of herself, and that doesn't sit well with me. I never really got the "masturbation is something boys do, but girls don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t" thing--in fact, I can't really remember it ever being mentioned at all, besides by my female cousin once when we were eleven and twelve, so where does that message come from? I'm not denying its existence--I believe them--I just want to know from whence it stems so I can know what to take issue with and how to fight it. I feel like I discovered my own sexual nature and the ability to pleasure myself organically at a young age like these passages suggest boys do, and I don't understand why so many women didn't have the same experience.  

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