There’s a documentary which was released in 2009, which no one made much of a fuss over, but I believe provides validate for the difficulties many women face in trying to understand their sexual bodies and capabilities.  It’s called Orgasm Inc. , researched and assembled by Liz Canner, who was contracted to make an erotic testing video for Vivus, one of the many companies racing to create a “female viagra” at the turn of the century.

Orgasm Inc. chronicles the way the medical industry has taken the pressures, doubts, and fears pressed upon women about orgasm and uses these feelings to market drugs and therapy options to make us “normal.”  This includes the creation of the new medical condition, “female sexual disfunction,” a term so broad and non-descript that it is used as justification by doctors and nervous women alike as the explanation for any kind of sexuality that is different than what society has put forth for us to accept.  That includes women with difficulty reaching orgasm, women who take longer to become aroused, and women who simply have lower sex drives than what the public considers “normal.”

I don’t think I need to go into a tirade about how absurd the concept of “normal” is when it comes to sex, so I’ll skip right to why this is so down-right infuriating from a personal standpoint: there’s nothing wrong with these women!  At the end of high school, I spent what feels like years worrying, researching, hypothesizing, and even talking to some doctors and sex therapists about why I couldn’t orgasm.  I was desperate for an explanation, a disorder that I could pin on the problem, so that I could tackle  it with drugs, with meditation, even therapy if absolutely necessary!  And I received a lot of advice- most of it telling me to relax, to stop putting pressure on myself and just let “it” happen.  When that didn’t work, I found a medical excuse: inorgasmia.

All of this was absurd and stress-inducing, of course, but the puzzle piece I was missing which would let me escape from this self-imposed sexual labyrinth had nothing to do with medicine, nothing to do with disorders, nothing even to do with relaxing my body or using a vibrator; it had to do with expectations.

When I started reading sex-positive blogs and 3rd wave feminist work, the deconstruction of sex made everything clearer.  Who decided that orgasm was necessary for sex?  Who decided that there is only one way to feel pleasure, or even to define what sex is?  This was a hard pill to swallow, having tried for so long to fit the mainstream’s idea of what is normal for sex, but eventually it eased the pressure.  I went into my current relationships saying, “I can’t orgasm, and that’s ok.”  The pressure was gone- sex was about exploring, understanding my body better.  Sexual disfunction was not part of the conversation and I didn’t feel the need continue looking for answers.

And you know what? 2 weeks later, I started having orgasms.  Crazy stuff.  

I’m not saying that this approach will allow every woman who has ever had my problem to orgasm, but I AM saying that doing so should not be the point.  You can have fulfilling sex without orgasm, without pressure to perform.  And maybe then the orgasms will come.  Or maybe you will have just found a better way to have sex in general, which doesn’t revolve around a societally-ordained “goal” for your pleasure.  Awesome.   Or, you can continue wasting your money on gadgets like this.

Also, I usually hate The, but this article, “Girl Talk: My Sister Taught Me to Masturbate” is amazing.  100% evidence of how communication about sex can be not as awkward and way more rewarding than we could imagine.

Stay cool, queer kids.