The first time I had an orgasm, I was probably around 7 years old, which feels uncomfortable to admit in a society that stigmatizes pleasure and wants to do everything they can to separate children from the realm of sex. And to be fair, at the time, I had no idea that what I was doing was sexual. I used to own a life-sized stuffed tiger and I figured out that if I pretended to ride it, it felt amazing. To myself I called this feeling, I shit you not, the “vibe”. Looking back with the help of Missy’s character arc with her stuffed glowworm in Netflix’s Big Mouth, I see clearly that I was actually just masturbating, all the time.
As I got older I graduated up to a more sophisticated form of self-pleasure: humping the fuck out of my couch armchair whenever my parents weren’t home. I would ride that sofa into oblivion almost every afternoon, gratefully awaiting those few seconds of pure bliss. I was old enough to know that this was not something my parents should see or know about, but I still wasn’t aware that those moments of euphoria were a sexual climax. I just knew it felt good and made me feel slightly shameful. Even kids can pick up on hundreds of years of societal stigma.
When I actually started going below the pants with hookups in middle school and high school, eventually becoming fully sexually active after I lost my virginity at 15, orgasms were nowhere to be found. I was still having a grand old time -- a great misconception of sex in our society is that it needs to end in orgasm in order to be worth it. I always found myself having to convince the men I was hooking up with of this fact. No, I didn’t cum, but don’t worry! I still had fun! It still felt good, and we should do it again, definitely. Tomorrow… In the back of your car on the way to school? It sounds like a goddamn date if I ever heard one.
It’s not you, it’s me.
As enthusiastic as I was about sex, my partners were disheartened and I could tell that every time they came and I didn’t, they felt that they were broken, and when I told them they weren’t, the narrative quickly shifted to me being broken. So that’s what I believed from 15 to 17 when it finally happened. My boyfriend of 7 months was on top of me, his groin rubbing against my clit enough that my body finally got what it had been craving: internal and external stimulation.
“IT’S HAPPENING, OH MY GOD, IT’S HAPPENING,” I screamed. I came for 15 entire seconds. My boyfriend was incredulous.
“Really? You just came?”
“Yes!” I laughed, entire body limp.
His initial joyous shock shifted to confusion, then shame. “Does this mean it was me the whole time?” Even in high school, men think they need to be born with an innate ability to make any woman cum. In reality, everyone’s body and mind is different. And I learned then that for me specifically, I needed to be really comfortable with someone sexually before my mind was able to relax enough to let my body lose control.
It took my next boyfriend about a month of nonstop sex before it happened. He and I had a long and messy on-and-off relationship that involved multiple other sexcapades when we were on our breaks. Everyone else I fucked was unable to make me cum, and even when I knew it was a bad idea, I would always end up crawling back to his bed because he was the only one at that point in my life who could give me an orgasm. I couldn’t even give myself one. After I grew out of my couch-humping days, I didn’t venture into masturbation for a while. I tried it a few times throughout high school and college but something about my own finger technique, my shame about what I was doing, and my insecurity with my body made the practice seem futile.
The Moby Dick (Clitoris)
Later in college, after drooling over various instagram models for months, I realized I definitely was not straight. The first time I had sex with a woman, I was completely blackout drunk and I do not remember a goddamn thing. The second time, about halfway through the night, I gave the spiel I had already given to so many men: I’m probably not going to cum, it’s just really difficult for me, it’s me not you, etc. etc. She followed it up with an, “I’ll see about that,” something I was also very used to hearing.
And at about 5:00am - it came. The White Whale of orgasms. The perfectly coordinated double-decker simultaneous scissoring orgasm. With her on top of me, our clits rubbing together, we came at the exact same time. Some say that scissoring in general is a myth, one perpetuated by poorly made lesbian porn written and directed by straight men. But I am living proof that not only does scissoring happen - it works. Well, it did work. Once. I have never in my life been able to recreate this triumphant orgasm, but I have been on the hunt for it ever since. One day… we will meet again.
The DIY Vibrator
In college, I met a hilarious lesbian with an enormous sex drive and a nonexistent filter. “I use my Clarisonic to masturbate,” she dropped casually one evening over a post-rehearsal bowl.
“Your Clarisonic? Like the spinning face wash thingy? Don’t the bristles hurt?”
“No, I flip it over, idiot! I put just the part that vibrates on my clit and BOOM!” She smiled, wiggling her eyebrows like the perfect psychopath she was.
I left immediately to investigate. With my eyes closed and the turbo-face brush shoved between my legs, I tried to manifest an orgasm. It felt good, without a doubt, but something was missing. Something… written and directed by straight men. I flipped on Pornhub and loaded a poorly made lesbian sex scene. Step Sisters Lick Eachother in the Bath When Dad’s Not Home, Young British Blonde Loves to Eat Her Sorority Sister’s Hairy Box, Milf with Huge Boobs Has Hot Sex with Brazilian Babysitter Who Also, You Guessed it, Has Huge Boobs, etc. I had been regularly watching lesbian porn as an exercise in confirming my sexuality for over a year, but I’d never paired this practice with vibration.
“Will you help me take my shirt off, my boobs are too big!”
“I am your step-sister, we should not do this!”
“Eh, you like this hairy pussy, Sistah? In London we call this a mugwump!”
Bzzzz. Oh god. Here it is.
“Put ya huge tit in my mensch! Which is British for cunt! Which is British for pussy.”
YES! YES! YES! Sweet heavenly jesus. I gave myself… an orgasm. On my own. Without a man or an extremely flexible and talented woman. Just with Pornhub, a dream, and a state-of-the-art face-washing brush.
Since then, I’ve become an avid collector of vibrators and dildos of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. After I bought my first at a sex shop in Portland, I masturbated 7 times in one day and feared I might have permanently bruised my clitoris. It still takes me a while to cum with new sexual partners, which is always met with varying degrees of understanding. I’ve got a range of reactions from “amazing, me too!” to “having sex with you isn’t fun because I feel like I’m doing a bad job.” Yikes. On to the next.
My picky, high maintenance clitoris doesn’t make me feel bad anymore because I’m a lot more in tune with my body and my needs. I respect myself enough to know that it’s not my problem if someone else projects their own insecurities onto my orgasm (or lack thereof).