Author: has written 57 posts for this blog.

Clarisse Thorn is a Chicago-based, feminist, sex-positive activist and educator. Personal blog at clarissethorn.com; follow her on Twitter @clarissethorn; you can also buy her awesome book about pickup artists or her awesome best-of collection, The S&M Feminist.
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65 Responses

  1. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    This was a very frustrating article to read as a man. Although I understood how hard and difficult this was for the author and others (and the societal pressures involved), the perspective of the man was relegated to one short section and was largely dismissed.

    I was very interested to see if the author understood, really understood, the view of the situation from a man’s perspective. I don’t think that she did.

    Now that doesn’t mean that any of her points about her own experience were invalid. They are clearly valid. It just meant to me, in reading that, that her expectations and reactions to her partners were informed by a very limited view of the male perspective.

    One aspect: the article seems to assume that the male insecurities and fears about satisfying a partner exist but are a small, almost ancillary issue. For men, our ability to satisfy our partners is often tied to well, to be blunt, the size and nature of our equipment, and it is something that we fundamentally cannot change and the anxiety many men feel about that is off the charts. (Imagine for a moment a world in which a large category of men could not physically orgasm with a woman who was taller than 5’6″ or had smaller breast than an A cup . . . women’s body images would be even more out of whack than they are . . . that’s basically the life of a man). Now of course many women don’t care about such things (the motion in the ocean and all of that) but there is a large, loud a vocal majority that do. And it plays into the deepest parts of many men’s psyches.

    And that’s just one aspect of it. In short, the inability of your spouse to have an orgasm is as or more important (to me at least) as my own. It’s that core to many of us. I don’t think the author completely gets that.

  2. konkonsn
    konkonsn October 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |

    This article wasn’t supposed to be about men! It was about her and her journey as she found what worked for her and what didn’t. It’s really frustrating for me to read your comment as a woman because I feel like you just said, “Let’s bring this back to men. Let’s talk about men and what they want and feel,” as if that isn’t done all the time.

    I wish I could convey how much anger that the very first comment on this article was: “what about the men?”

  3. Marlene
    Marlene October 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm |

    Angry Black Guy,
    Penis size matters if you think penises are the only implements or body parts with which sex happens.

    I’ve never had a lover whose hands were too small for me.

    I’m sorry for your anxiety, but resent your need to center it here.

    konkonsn, I heartily second your opinion.

    Clarisse, thanks for this. You’re on a roll and I seem to be becoming a big fan.

  4. Bex
    Bex October 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm |

    I just received a thank you email from a friend for sharing this article and I thought the thanks should go where credit is due.

    Thank you Clarisse for sharing your experience and reminding other women that they aren’t alone on their journey.

  5. Liminal Fem
    Liminal Fem October 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm |

    As a lesbian who’s struggled with this same issue, I can say that women are just as insecure. I’ve had several sexual partners who decided that the only time sex was good/a success was if both of us came, and their efforts to force or cajole an orgasm out of me sucked all the fun out of going to bed with them.

  6. Sam
    Sam October 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    Definitely felt my gag reflex when I read the first comment.

    Somewhere you missed the point that her whole life her sexual needs were made invisible because MEN’S SEXUALITY IS FUCKING PARAMOUNT! And so, what do you take from that?:

    *cry* one person talked about sexuality without it being about ME, a MAN

    Check your privilege dude. Seriously.

    Anyways, fucking fantastic article Clarisse. As someone who doesn’t really identify, I just enjoyed reading it as a well written and compelling story anyway! <3

  7. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm |

    Clarisse, I really wish you would spend more time discussing the wonderful pleasures ejaculation of semen. You really owe it to any male who does you the favor of reading your comment.

  8. Natasha
    Natasha October 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm |

    @ Angry Black Guy:

    Speaking as a queer woman (who had a few male partners back in the day), I appreciated your perspective cuz feminism is not just a women’s issue for me. And for women who have sex with men, it seems equally important to know what women’s AND men’s perspectives are on the issue in order to better understand eachother, and ideally, connect. *

    I think I understood where you are coming from Angry Black Man, and may I ask, did you understand, really understand, the view of the situation from this particular writer’s perspective?

    //

    Gosh so many of us walking around with so many anxieties and insecurities and fears…it’s a miracle anyone gets and/or stays together!

    *I use the words men and women to refer to the whole, wide, long, colorful sex and gender continuum.

  9. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm |

    konkonsn:
    This article wasn’t supposed to be about men!It was about her and her journey as she found what worked for her and what didn’t.It’s really frustrating for me to read your comment as a woman because I feel like you just said, “Let’s bring this back to men.Let’s talk about men and what they want and feel,” as if that isn’t done all the time.

    I wish I could convey how much anger that the very first comment on this article was: “what about the men?”

    I understand your position (which is often times the take when a man attempts to take a position on issues that do not relate specifically to men’s bodies) however I think this case is different. In various sections of the piece she discusses her issues in the context of her relationships with men, from her opening (where she struggles between losing her boyfriend and the problem of relegating her issues to the backburner) to the difficulties she has had in explaining the issues to her boyfriends to the anxiety about cunnilingus and whether men actually enjoy such things (YES THEY DO), to the frustration she feels when a boyfriend does not realize that she is not achieving orgasm.

    Parallel to what she is experiencing are a group of men, some good and some bad, who either don’t fully understand, aren’t good, empathetic people, aren’t being told the truth (the dreaded fake orgasm that every man views as evil) or are struggling with their own feelings and insecurities about the issue.

    My point was not to minimize her struggle, but to suggest that her sexual partners and their feelings and emotions are obviously a key part of how she viewed herself and the issues. And given that, understanding what men really think about this stuff is crucial.

    Given that, I found it important to note that she would be surprised about the intensity, emotion and, sometimes, deep shame, that her partner(s) may be feeling in connection with the issue. A great deal of self identity is wrapped up in the concept of your mate enjoying his or her sexual experience with you and the pressure is more intense for men.

    Too often we separate the genders into rival camps on these issues when the best understanding is one in which both parties play an important part. Now obviously, this is a personal issue to her. The issue seems to be present whether she is with a man or not. But her real angst seemed to come from how it affected her relationships with men and how those relationships made worse an already frustrating dilemma.

    Shorter: It’s more complicated than “you are a man and shouldn’t be chiming in on this issue with the male perspective”.

  10. Glundank
    Glundank October 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm |

    Fat Steve:
    Clarisse, I really wish you would spend more time discussing the wonderful pleasuresejaculation of semen. You really owe it to any male who does you the favor of reading your comment.

    Metaphorical milk just shot out of my nose.

    In an completely non-Freudian way, of course.

  11. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm |

    Marlene:
    Angry Black Guy,
    Penis size matters if you think penises are the only implements or body parts with which sex happens.

    I’ve never had a lover whose hands were too small for me.

    I’m sorry for your anxiety, but resent your need to center it here.

    konkonsn, I heartily second your opinion.

    Clarisse, thanks for this. You’re on a roll and I seem to be becoming a big fan.

    Marlene:

    I agree with you. For some women, other things matter. But there is a very large and very real group of women for whom it does. And for those women, it matters a lot.

    So when a woman that you truly care about reveals that she cannot have an orgasm with you, it strikes a number of different chords (and chords that most women don’t understand because for the most part, orgasms by men aren’t as much of an issue).

    I think that in order to be able to have an honest discussion with your partner about such things, a real understanding of what’s likely happening in his head is something important to grasp.

    I won’t say much else because I do not want to distract from what I think is a very good article. But when I read, for example, that she did not want to ask for sexual positions and would rather have LESS pleasure than making the uncomfortable request, I was yelling in my head “HE’D HATE IT MORE IF HE KNEW YOU WEREN’T GETTING THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF PLEASURE POSSIBLE”. It was an article that made me say “wow, she really doesn’t understand what men think and it probably made things a lot harder on her than it otherwise should have been”.

    That was really my point.

  12. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm |

    Side note:

    All of those comments may apply to the author in the past tense. She may have complete clarity on the perspective of men now, especially now that she has found a way to overcome the issue.

  13. raya
    raya October 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    Angry Black Guy: It was an article that made me say “wow, she really doesn’t understand what men think and it probably made things a lot harder on her than it otherwise should have been”.

    Uh, … I’d think the problem of most women who suffer from sexual/orgasmic dysfunctions is not that they didn’t ever think about how maybe their partner would appreciate a more open communication because they obviously don’t really ‘get’ men.

    At least for me, most my sexual anxieties basically stem from the culture I grew up in that taught me it’s wrong to have sex, it’s wrong to have sex with other women, it’s wrong to enjoy BDSM, you can’t claim you’ve been sexually assaulted because obviously enjoying BDSM somehow makes you un-rape-able, you’re not allowed to be a sexual being anyway because you’re crazy etc. etc.
    Shit like this shapes all of my sexual encounters. Of course it does hinder any attempt to an open, honest conversation about my partner’s and my sex life. But miscommunication is not the reason but just one outcome of sexual anxieties and dysfunctions.
    Seriously, this just isn’t about men. I can suffer from orgasmic dysfunctions without wanting to fuck men. Or anybody, really. Why the fck would you think the reason for such problems would be not-really-understanding-men when someone can’t even have an orgasm while masturbating alone?

  14. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 4, 2011 at 9:08 pm |

    raya: Uh, … I’d think the problem of most women who suffer from sexual/orgasmic dysfunctions is not that they didn’t ever think about how maybe their partner would appreciate a more open communication because they obviously don’t really ‘get’ men.

    At least for me, most my sexual anxieties basically stem from the culture I grew up in that taught me it’s wrong to have sex, it’s wrong to have sex with other women, it’s wrong to enjoy BDSM, you can’t claim you’ve been sexually assaulted because obviously enjoying BDSM somehow makes you un-rape-able, you’re not allowed to be a sexual being anyway because you’re crazy etc. etc.
    Shit like this shapes all of my sexual encounters. Of course it does hinder any attempt to an open, honest conversation about my partner’s and my sex life. But miscommunication is not the reason but just one outcome of sexual anxieties and dysfunctions.
    Seriously, this just isn’t about men. I can suffer from orgasmic dysfunctions without wanting to fuck men. Or anybody, really. Why the fck would you think the reason for such problems would be not-really-understanding-men when someone can’t even have an orgasm while masturbating alone?

    The article starts with a statement about the impact of the problem on her relationships, specifically her relationships with men. There is the mechanical aspect of the issues she is having but I viewed it as being about her interactions as much as the problem itself. When viewed in that mode, the reason that I Highlighted the other side of this relationships makes sense.

    If the point of the article was to focus solely on the problem in a medical/clinical sense then I’m wrong. But that doesn’t seem to be the sole focus based on her words.

  15. fraggle
    fraggle October 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm |

    can we talk about the menz’ needs some more? That’s what I come to this site for. I feel that nowhere in the universe REALLY focuses on the man people.

  16. Marle
    Marle October 4, 2011 at 9:54 pm |

    I also have to say that I don’t think that a very personal article by a women about here experiences needs a male perspective. I don’t think it’s important, for example, to know why a man would tell a woman that it’s great that he doesn’t have to worry about making her orgasm. But knowing that hurts a woman who can’t orgasm is important. The story is about her, not about how men feel about her.

  17. Mr. Kristen J.
    Mr. Kristen J. October 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm |

    Fat Steve: Clarisse, I really wish you would spend more time discussing the wonderful pleasures ejaculation of semen. You really owe it to any male who does you the favor of reading your comment.

    Absolutely. Because discussions of sex in our society are not focused enough on the needs of men.

  18. Marle
    Marle October 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm |

    Also Angry black guy, the importance of penis size is mostly just an issue to men. Many women can’t orgasm from penetration no matter how big a guy is, and if you exclude the women who only orgasm during penetration because they find a way to stimulate their clits during it (either directly with hands or vibrators or indirectly by grinding against him) and you easily come to the majority of women don’t come from penises as all. Sure, some women actually care about penis size, but there’s a lot fewer of them than men who “require” big tits or flat waists or whatever. If you think it’s an blow to your manhood that she needs a vibrator, then you need to learn more about women. Which you could start by reading articles about women without thinking it would be better if there were more men.

  19. MiZ
    MiZ October 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm |

    Moving away from the back and forth comments for a second, I just wanted to let you know how much this article resonated with me (as I imagine it has for so many readers). I have been sexually active since my teens, with both men and women, and have never experienced an orgasm with anyone but myself. Like you, my experiences ranged from the “I’m broken, there must be something wrong”, to “I need to try harder to figure this out”. I also went to a doctor at one point, convinced that if I enjoyed sex with partners and wanted to orgasm (but couldn’t), then the only explanation possible was some kind of physical abnormality (nothing turned up). And of course, I’ve had partners who viewed the “issue” as a problem to be solved, ultimately becoming disappointed and resentful when they “failed”. I guess my breakthrough moment came when, like you, I had an unusually frank discussion with my mother and she confessed that she also found it very difficult to orgasm with a partner.

    I’m now at the point where I’m quite comfortable with the fact that I’m the only one who gets me off. I’m still very open to the possibility of getting off with a partner, but it’s no longer this desperate “oh god, if I can’t do this I’m not really a woman or sexual or desirable” feeling. I still experiment and try different things, but I’m more than happy with what I get from myself, and in a way, it takes the pressure off relationships.

    The one thing I still have some difficulty with, and I’m sure others do as well, is the whole disclosure thing. I’m not so much worried about what people will think of me if I tell them, I’m more worried that they’ll think that my inability to orgasm means I’m not interested in and don’t enjoy sex at all. So if anyone has any stories or tips to share about tackling that one, feel free to share.

  20. LC
    LC October 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm |

    OK, I’m ignoring the derail.

    Clarisse, this was deeply fascinating to me, due to my history of being with someone who was anorgasmic. In her case, it may well be a case of her meds interfering, but I honestly think it may be more her struggling with identifying her own sexuality. In the end, I don’t know.

    It was interesting to see how much sex positive sex education failed you in a way. It seems so much of it is based on the assumption things will just work, with the vague “keep trying” and “let go” advice and the deeply unfortunate sense that you compromise your boundaries for experimentation, which I find deeply awful.

    In the end, though, it did kind of feel like the whole piece cycled back to “keep trying”, “let go”, and “find a way to be in touch with your sexuality”. That’s probably inevitable, but it somehow felt sad to me, like we’re all still just spinning our wheels on this.

    (Sorry this is somewhat rambly, I’m a bit over-tired.)

  21. LC
    LC October 5, 2011 at 12:17 am |

    MiZ: I’m not so much worried about what people will think of me if I tell them, I’m more worried that they’ll think that my inability to orgasm means I’m not interested in and don’t enjoy sex at all. So if anyone has any stories or tips to share about tackling that one, feel free to share.

    I think all you can do is try to be honest about communicating that. I have had partners who were going through stages of trouble orgasming but still liking sex, and that’s what worked for us. There was definite some work to do on my side of not taking it as something to be “fixed”, but communication helped. In the case of one who also only came by her own hand, we found she could orgasm masturbating with me holding her, which was really tremendously hot.

    I know it’s kind of pat, but communication seems to be the only answer here. You can reassure people all you want you are into it, but the only chance they’ll believe you is if you’re sincere. If they aren’t going to believe you when you’re sincere, there’s not a lot you can do.

  22. Clare
    Clare October 5, 2011 at 1:37 am |

    Wow, Clarisse, that article is fantastic. So, so resonates with me, so thank you for writing it. Being vague about the timeline with partners especially (and another point from one of your commenters about bringing up the subject less and less over time with a longterm partner – as if I should have just got there by now and the problem has gone. I think it’s because the alternative – that the 100 times we’ve had sex, rather than just the one or two, have been unsatisfying – feels like quite a big deal). Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t so worried about hurting others’ feelings, I might have time for my own. Le sigh.

    You say near the start that you have more trouble orgasming that the ‘average woman’. Which got me to thinking – everything you say is exactly how I am (except I don’t lean BDSM, although I love reading your work on it, because it’s, for want of a better word, adorable to see your excitement about it!). Maybe you are/were closer to the average than you thought.

    And the boyfriend you describe in section 3? Is a jerk. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Gaslighting enrages me like you would not believe.

  23. Soullite
    Soullite October 5, 2011 at 6:49 am |

    ABG, I generally dislike you, but I understand where you’re coming from. Just leave these people alone. They don’t think men should get to have opinions or express their viewpoint about anything. If you try, they just scream “WHAT ABOUT THE MENS!!!” or “MANSPLAINING!”.

    You can’t have a conversation with feminists unless you agree with them, so just write them off as myopic assholes and move on. You can’t talk to feminists, you can only be talked at by them. They do not consider male opinions legitimate.

  24. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley October 5, 2011 at 7:39 am |

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, it’s inspiring to hear other women talk about their experiences with orgasms, there is not enough of that out there. So thank you.

  25. rrrriley
    rrrriley October 5, 2011 at 9:49 am |

    Kudos for addressing this issue directly. This article gave great insight into one woman’s experience, and I’m sure it gave hope to women for whom being unable to orgasm has become this kind of dark cloud over sexual expression that the author describes. Though I credit Clarisse for throwing out at the end of her piece that maybe orgasms aren’t necessarily the end-all be-all of sexual acts, the article pretty clearly tends to take them as such.

    Being unable to orgasm isn’t some rare, awful condition. A LOT of women don’t orgasm, and a lot just don’t begin being able to until they’re in their late twenties or thirties. Bodies are different, and more importantly, minds are different– the idea that sex is a journey all of us take in hopes of reaching exactly the same goal (orgasm) is a gross and male-centric oversimplification. Obviously the author recognizes this (particularly as a kinkster), and has had to struggle in a society that misplaces orgasm at the heart of sexual experience.

    I guess I’m just hoping that other readers lucky enough to have escaped that assumption so far will not take this story as proof that inability to orgasm a.) can always be fixed with pointed effort (it can’t), and b.) necessarily comes with this level of sexual dissatisfaction and emotional pain.

    Anyway, great article, and thanks for being real with us.

  26. groggette
    groggette October 5, 2011 at 10:11 am |

    I’ll get is started for you Clarisse:
    FLOUNCE!

    That said, I’m looking forward to reading this article when I get home and can actually open it up. I HAVE THOUGHTS ALREADY!! but I want to make sure they’re actually pertinent to what you wrote.

  27. LC
    LC October 5, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    Clare: And the boyfriend you describe in section 3? Is a jerk. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Gaslighting enrages me like you would not believe.

    Fully in support of this. Gaslighting drives me right round the bend.

  28. Glass
    Glass October 5, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    Seriously one of the most poignant articles I’ve read in a while.

    Thank you for sharing.

  29. anna
    anna October 5, 2011 at 12:14 pm |

    As someone who’s gone through the same thing (though I’m only into vanilla sex) thank you so much for writing this.

    “And one of the biggest sexual scripts is that sex ends with the man’s orgasm. That the man’s orgasm is the goal.”

    Which is such bullshit, not least because it’s a hell of a lot quicker and easier for most (notice I said most not all) men to come than women. If you say “sex is over once the guy comes” even a usually orgasmic woman is going to have trouble.

  30. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: She may have already responded to your comment and been 100% ignored.

    The question and comment was deeper than that but no need to go further. I am a “menz” and therefore not worthy of presenting a view on the topic.

  31. Angry Black Guy
    Angry Black Guy October 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn:
    It just keeps getting better and better!

    Next we’re going to be flooded by angry MRAs who massively derail the thread in support of ABG, and then we’re going to be called crazy bitches when we decide to moderate comments.Come on, guys.Prove me right.When I next check my email, I expect at least 15 comments about what a man-hater I am.

    Strawman much?

    There are enough “evil menz” out there to let you avoid demonizing a friendly one trying to engage in a non-threatening and respectful honest dialogue.

    I have no idea what an MRA even is but I hereby take a stand and renounce all MRA support for me or my positions and demand that these dreaded MRAs do not derail this chain.

    [geezus]

  32. jennygadget
    jennygadget October 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    Clarisse,

    Thank you. This was a useful and amazing article to read. Even though I had my first orgasm early enough that I had to figure out later exactly what it was, there is still so much in that article that was relevant to me and my experiences.

    Not that it wouldn’t have still been amazing otherwise, and I am grateful to hear about experiences that differ from mine as well, but I think the fact that I can recognize myself in experiences that on the surface sound so different from mine shows both that you are a wonderful writer and that there is just way too much of this toxic crap out there that needs to be addressed.

  33. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm |

    Angry Black Guy: Strawman much?

    I have no idea what an MRA even is but I hereby take a stand and renounce all MRA support for me or my positions and demand that these dreaded MRAs do not derail this chain.

    [geezus]

    Do you know what an AH is? You totally sound like one

  34. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 5, 2011 at 3:21 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn:
    Also Fat Steve you are hilarious.

    Shhhhhhh…people will think feminists have a sense of humor….

  35. RR
    RR October 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm |

    In ABG’s defense, every 2nd to 3rd paragraph (at least) mentioned men and/or relationships. It’s normal when you read a dialog to look for mirrors of your own roles. And it’s normal when you read educational material to say “what did I learn from this?” or “what will I do different next time?”.

    >>You read an article about a woman’s experience with orgasmic
    >>dysfunction

    I thought it was a universal article, just about *a* women’s experience because you’re the woman. If you were male in essentially the same circumstances you wouldn’t have written the same article?

  36. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 5, 2011 at 4:30 pm |

    RR:
    In ABG’s defense, every 2nd to 3rd paragraph (at least) mentioned men and/or relationships.It’s normal when you read a dialog to look for mirrors of your own roles.And it’s normal when you read educational material to say “what did I learn from this?” or “what will I do different next time?”.

    >>You read an article about a woman’s experience with orgasmic
    >>dysfunction

    I thought it was a universal article, just about *a* women’s experience because you’re the woman.If you were male in essentially the same circumstances you wouldn’t have written the same article?

    Well, now that you mention it, section 1 (entitled Vaginal pain,) did seem to imply that vaginal pain was a problem experienced solely by women.

  37. LC
    LC October 5, 2011 at 6:52 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: Yeah, I know. I was trying to be as specific in my advice as I possibly could, with the study questions and everything, but I guess orgasms are so twisty and psychological that this could be inevitable.

    Yeah, that came off as more critical and less useful than I might have liked on my part. :)

    I find the bit about no longer focusing on orgasms now that you know you can get them to be largely unsurprising. I remain terribly fond of them, and do like them being part of partnered sex, kink or no, but was lucky enough to have one of my first lovers disabuse me of the notion that they need to be part of any given encounter.

    Fat Steve: Well, now that you mention it, section 1 (entitled Vaginal pain,) did seem to imply that vaginal pain was a problem experienced solely by women.

    I’m willing to bet you will get push back on that.

  38. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    Clarisse, your braintrus, does indeed seem trustworthy…though this comment runs counter to my experience…

    Clarisse Thorn: As a guy, we’re all taught that real men don’t give head

    I must’ve been out smoking weed the day they took the boys into the auditorium for that assembly.

    I don’t remember the subject being a regular topic of conversation in my formative years, but the two times I can actually remember it was spoken of in positive terms, such as when I overheard one of my mom’s friends telling her a joke, which I may have been too young to get, but was obviously not too young to tell it was a dirty joke I shouldn’t be listening to. The joke went something like:
    Q: What’s the difference between pussy and parsley?
    A: You’re not supposed to eat parsley.

    So, that obviously was an early lesson in the importance of cunnilingus. The other instance was a track on a Richard Pryor record I listened to all the time where he would talk of an uncle would say ‘Don’t you ever kiss no pussy’ and Richard said ‘I couldn’t wait to kiss a pussy.’ If I’m completely forthright I must admit that this influenced me to the point where I, too, couldn’t wait to kiss a pussy. I was not disappointed.

  39. lyn
    lyn October 5, 2011 at 7:48 pm |

    Thanks for this article – it’s so difficult trying to negotiate what you need when there’s so much emphasis on men’s orgasms – I maybe orgasmed twice in my first heterosexual relationship (5 years!) because I felt hideously guilty about having an inconvenient need for clitoral stimulation. *shakes head at self*

    Part of the frustration for me in this relationship was the feeling that I should respond consistently to sexual acts, and that actually feeling like some things at some times and not others was hopelessly moody of me, and that I couldn’t expect my partner to know about my moods – he was of the opinion that talking about exactly what worked and didn’t and when ‘ruined the mood’ (no prizes for guessing whose moods he was worried about). When I finally found myself a partner who doesn’t want to orgasm every time and really gets off on pleasuring women, I was really shocked and felt like I was being really selfish all the time!

    P.S. I want to point out that the author is not psychic and therefore ill-equipped to provide any actual descriptions of what was for-sure going on in her partners’ heads.

  40. LC
    LC October 5, 2011 at 11:21 pm |

    While I will go all in on the “we get filled with insecurities” part, I can honestly say that this from your braintrust:

    As a guy, we’re all taught that real men don’t give head – or at least that it’s a private thing that we don’t admit too – which is so fucking stupid, but is still really out there in heteronormative western male culture. We’re all taught that getting a woman off is our job, and to be a good man, and a good lover, we have to get our partner off before we get off. I don’t know a single sexually active guy who has never felt humiliated because he came too early, and too early is largely defined as before our partner gets off. And we’re all taught that real men get their partners off with nothing but the awesomeness of our cocks. Hand jobs/digital penetration are fine for highschool or fore play – but our image of a good man, and a desirable lover doesn’t integrate with those things. We’re coached by pop culture and porn to believe that the guy every woman wants is the one who sticks his cock in and makes her explode with joy from the very first thrust. And any time that doesn’t happen, the guy is at fault.

    was completely untrue in my case. Certainly all the stuff about head and hands. That she should also be awesomely into being fucked by your cock? That I can say came in, but the idea that you don’t do other things? Really, really not. I do admit my sexual upbringing was probably not entirely mainstream, but I certainly haven’t gotten the impression that it was in another river altogether.

  41. anonymouse
    anonymouse October 6, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    To be more specific about the whole “relax” thing for other women out there–I think that sometimes for the preorgasmic, getting close to the edge feels scary. Like losing control scary. Being comfortable enough with your partner (or yourself) to think hey, I am going to go with this and not stop can help.

    Another thing, that is positive for both men and women with sexual dysfunction is to chase pleasure rather than orgasm. Men can be insecure about their sexual performance too, and refocusing on pleasure and away from the timing of orgasm can help immensely with both.

    For me, what ultimately helped me was (1) age, (2) awesome partners into marathon piv and oral, (3) focusing on the clitoral shaft rather than the very sensitive tip. YMMV.

    PS-Based on what Clarisse has written about her partners, here and in the past, I get the sense that her reticence to discuss/ask for things had to do with her partner’s selfishness. Sorry, C, but that is how I read your descriptions.

  42. Hershele Ostropoler
    Hershele Ostropoler October 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm |

    Soullite: They don’t think men should get to have opinions or express their viewpoint about anything.

    That would explain the complete lack of male voices on the Internet in general and Feministe in particular.

  43. Angryblackguy
    Angryblackguy October 7, 2011 at 6:48 am |

    Clarisse Thorn: This was exactly how I felt when you left your original comment!

    But seriously, ABG, since you do seem to be in earnest, I will give you an actual answer.In some anti-feminist circles (or Men’s Rights — MRA stands for Men’s Rights Activist), I am specifically cited as being one of the “good” feminists willing to see men’s perspective.(In all honesty, I think this is silly, because I’ve talked to lots of other feminists who are just as willing to explore men’s perspective as I am.But, you know.There it is.)

    I have also taken heat from a lot of feminists because of some things I’ve written about men’s perspective.(Which I also think is silly.But there it is.)

    I worked really hard on this article to try and note both:

    A) how men’s perspective might make this difficult for them, but simultaneously

    B) why men’s insecurities aren’t actually an excuse for men to treat women badly.

    In my experience women are actually extremely aware of men’s insecurities.Women frequently silence themselves and put up with a lot of crap because we are afraid of “emasculating” our man, as I specifically noted in the article.

    Given that this was an article about:

    1) a woman’s experience,

    2) and what it’s like to be a woman,

    3) and why this issue is difficult to take on as a woman,

    4) and why women shouldn’t allow men’s insecurities to shut us up …

    … can you see why I would avoid putting a lot of text towards describing men’s insecurities in loving detail?

    Fair enough. I think I understand why you structured it that way. As for the concept that you are a feminist who sees the male perspective, that may be true. I am new to your writing. I will check out other things you have written. My interest in the site and others like it is genuine and not malicious.

  44. machina
    machina October 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm |

    But when I read, for example, that she did not want to ask for sexual positions and would rather have LESS pleasure than making the uncomfortable request, I was yelling in my head “HE’D HATE IT MORE IF HE KNEW YOU WEREN’T GETTING THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF PLEASURE POSSIBLE”.It was an article that made me say “wow, she really doesn’t understand what men think and it probably made things a lot harder on her than it otherwise should have been”.

    But is trying for an orgasm under some pressure from your partner and probably being unable to do so more pleasurable than having sex just for the non-orgasmic pleasure?

    I spent a fair while, maybe a year or more, I forget now, during a long relationship where I came once or twice during sex with my then girlfriend. She often liked to just be fucked, and we’d gotten into a bit of a routine of doing that, and it might have been worthwhile to ask her to be a bit more involved, but I’m not sure that would have helped. I tended to just plateau at a certain level of arousal and found it very difficult to push through into orgasm. The sex was still fairly enjoyable though, and it didn’t feel worth the stress and annoyance to try to change things.

    I did feel bad about it though, perhaps it meant I didn’t really love my girlfriend, perhaps she didn’t really love me, perhaps I was just bad at intimacy, perhaps I was afraid to be vulnerable to her, whatever, it was all unhelpful. But it wasn’t that I didn’t think that she’d feel both desire or pressure to make me orgasm, in an intense, all caps kind of way. I didn’t want that pressure heaped on top of my own problems. I figure Clarisse and others felt fairly similarly and that’s why there’s been a strong response.

    Really, I figure the only solution is for both people involved to relax and enjoy the sex, go for the orgasm if the moment seems right, but mostly try to stick to the positives.

  45. Matt
    Matt October 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm |

    I know there is considerable debate about whether vaginal secretions are analogous to semen, but the impression I’ve gathered from many men is that they feel like, a lot of girls don’t want to swallow and/or get a facial, but basically every time you go down on a girl, you are basically getting a facial and swallowing, and its not all at once where you can finish them and spit it out, the fluids build up in your mouth over the whole period and you basically have to swallow at some point, plus its all over your face for an extended period.
    I think a lot of the objection guys have about it is less oh its gross cause women fluids, and more about the practical results.

    Clarisse Thorn:
    Re: men feeling emasculated by performing oral sex, I’ve definitely spoken to men who seem to have gotten both messages — “it’s awesome” or “it’s emasculating” — and to men who got one or the other.It’s not clear to me where the pattern is.I myself definitely got the message at some point that “cunnilingus is so gross, a man would never do it unless you forced him to”.

    No apology necessary, I think in some cases that was true.Some of them may have been more “insecure” than “selfish”.Part of what I was trying to get across in the article is that a lot of the time, when people are scared to talk to their partners about something, it’s because either (a) they correctly recognize that their partners will react badly or (b) they have concluded that their partners will react badly based on unpleasant past experiences with other partners (which is admittedly unfair).It’s not always a matter of “irrational insecurities”.

  46. Matt
    Matt October 7, 2011 at 7:58 pm |

    This is something that is definitely mainstream. Honestly even hearing about a clit was kinda rare. The impression was definitely that piv sex was the most important aspect not only for men but women, and size was always brought up, basically that if you were small women would not be happy with your performance.
    And thanks to puritanical conservative religious whining, we were certainly never taught anything in sex ed class about sex itself, only about how sex is bad and aids and what not. Its not so much that guys don’t want to please their girlfriends, they clearly do, because satisfying your partner is a measure of your personal value as a man, but that they just had no other concept of sex other then piv. I mean yeah blowjobs, but blowjobs were separate from ‘real’ sex.

    LC:
    While I will go all in on the “we get filled with insecurities” part, I can honestly say that this from your braintrust:

    was completely untrue in my case. Certainly all the stuff about head and hands. That she should also be awesomely into being fucked by your cock? That I can say came in, but the idea that you don’t do other things? Really, really not.I do admit my sexual upbringing was probably not entirely mainstream, but I certainly haven’t gotten the impression that it was in another river altogether.

  47. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. October 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm |

    Matt: I know there is considerable debate about whether vaginal secretions are analogous to semen, but the impression I’ve gathered from many men is that they feel like, a lot of girls don’t want to swallow and/or get a facial, but basically every time you go down on a girl, you are basically getting a facial and swallowing, and its not all at once where you can finish them and spit it out, the fluids build up in your mouth over the whole period and you basically have to swallow at some point, plus its all over your face for an extended period.
    I think a lot of the objection guys have about it is less oh its gross cause women fluids, and more about the practical results.

    Huh? That makes no sense? Lots of fluids come out of a penis during a blow job that you can’t easily stop and spit out.

  48. shfree
    shfree October 8, 2011 at 1:07 am |

    Matt:
    I know there is considerable debate about whether vaginal secretions are analogous to semen, but the impression I’ve gathered from many men is that they feel like, a lot of girls don’t want to swallow and/or get a facial, but basically every time you go down on a girl, you are basically getting a facial and swallowing, and its not all at once where you can finish them and spit it out, the fluids build up in your mouth over the whole period and you basically have to swallow at some point, plus its all over your face for an extended period.
    I think a lot of the objection guys have about it is less oh its gross cause women fluids, and more about the practical results.

    All I can say if that if you feel like you are getting a facial every time you go down on a woman then you have some odd oral technique that I have never encountered, as I have never had a man rub his face all over my vulva during oral sex. (Nor would I want anyone to try, it sounds redonkulous.) And I’m pretty sure that would be necessary to get the equivalent of a facial from a blow job.

    Also, if vaginal secretions are such an issue, take two healthy sized pieces of Saran wrap, some lube, rub that lube between the pieces of Saran wrap, smoosh those pieces together, voila, dental dam. Or slice a condom down its side and use that. Then you don’t have to worry about secretions, both from a safer sex stand point and a “Ew, the stuff that comes from girl parts are GROSS” stand point. (Although if the second one is an issue, the question of whether or not access to girl parts should be granted is still a valid one IMHO)

  49. Matt
    Matt October 8, 2011 at 1:43 am |

    The only thing I can really think of to say is, time scales.

    Kristen J.: Huh?That makes no sense?Lots of fluids come out of a penis during a blow job that you can’t easily stop and spit out.

  50. LC
    LC October 8, 2011 at 4:05 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: (a) they correctly recognize that their partners will react badly or (b) they have concluded that their partners will react badly based on unpleasant past experiences with other partners (which is admittedly unfair). It’s not always a matter of “irrational insecurities”.

    This is very true. I think there is also a sort of middle ground. They correctly recognize their partners will react “badly” (insomuch as being upset) but they wildly overestimate HOW badly due to unpleasant past experiences.

    I’m fairly certain I have had that done to me (and probably done it to people as well).

  51. LC
    LC October 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm |

    Matt: And thanks to puritanical conservative religious whining, we were certainly never taught anything in sex ed class about sex itself, only about how sex is bad and aids and what not.

    I suspect I am older than you, which may explain some differences here.

  52. LC
    LC October 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm |

    Clarisse Thorn: Is there really a large number of men out there whose major problem with going down on women is that they’re getting an unmanageable amount of fluid on their faces?

    One woman. First time we were clearly transitioning into sexy naked time she reached under her bed (it had those drawers for storage that slide into the frame) and pulled out towels and lay them down.

    “Trust me on this,” she said.

    Honestly, that’s the one person I would remotely think of making that comparison with, and it was clearly just something that was the way her body worked. (And really not a big deal.)

  53. Arsepolitico
    Arsepolitico October 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm |

    FYI: I didn’t get what your Braintryst member READ INTO the article. No where did you lay blame on any man at all. I think he just knows too much about your asshole partners and his own flashbacks to realizing he was probably doing some of the same things they were or at least could’ve been perceived similarly and got defensive. Like ABG. NOWHERE DO YOU IMPLY LEAVING IS A SOLUTION, THAT MEN’S INSECURITES ARE INSIGNIFICANT OR THAT GUYS WHO TRY TO BUT DON’T MAKE YOU COME ARE JERKS. I mean yay and sadly for you not seeing that, but they’re totally reading into it.

    All you implied was that the insecurities were misplaced in conversations ABOUT YOU and the entire example you cited was trying to work through them together, but being continually unilaterslly shut down. The WTF conversation with your ex crystalizzed your point exactly. You didn’t miss anything. Your ex did. Your braintrust had to *assume* that you missed something as well, otherwise a WTF reaction is totally appropriate.
    Or was the point of this article not that no matter how much you scream at the top of your lungs, sex gets refocused as a men’s (are normal; you are just ‘weird’, ‘sick’ ‘crazy’ AND unsympathetic, to boot) issue, even with people you are most trusting to hear, empathize with, and take care of you?

    Maybe I misread.

  54. Arsepolitico
    Arsepolitico October 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Not that it didn’t hurt that your major example WAS an asshole.
    Sometimes people forget that assholes frequently have enough “normal” behavior for people to identify with or they would never get close enough to abuse anyone and they reacttothe reflection rather than the issue.

  55. » [storytime] A Unified Theory of Orgasm Clarisse Thorn

    […] There was a mild comment fracas. Eventually, in response to that guy, I wrote: […]

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