|Incapable of limiting themselves to petty
offenses, my hands broke into my chest and choked every
slumbering deity. After that I no longer cared
to argue about the nature of the flesh. Whether powered by vitalist or
mechanical forces, the spirits had in any case evaporated
as easily as life from the nostrils of a drowned man. Oddly,
I did begin to care about numbers, but only in exchangeable forms.
Bread, I heard a man say once and it made me a depressive materialist, not unlike a Franciscan without a dove. I collected frozen peas,
greeting each one like a lost friend, then dispersing them in green
streams to the hungry mouths in the surrounding counties. At home
I have an old painting to comfort me, a fine example
of Impressionism from the eastern bloc circa. 1981. In the subtle oranges singeing the trees one sees the foreshadowing of martial law.
As a child I sat in my western living room and watched
the Molotov cocktails fly behind the iron drape. Back then no one thought to explain to me how walls against the flight of capital might end in flames, how on t.v. I was witnessing soldiers clip the wings of the very same paper birds that here flew all around me.
Magdalena Zurawski’s poetry collection, Companion Animal, was published in 2015 by Litmus Press and won the 2016 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her novel, The Bruise (FC2 2008) won both the Ronald Sukenick Prize for innovative fiction and a LAMBDA Award. Zurawski teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Georgia.
Tra un fiore colto e l’ altro donato
l’ inesprimibile nulla
Ogni colore si espande e si adagia
negli altri colori
Per essere più solo se lo guardi
Morire come le allodole assetate
O come la quaglia
passato il mare
nei primi cespugli
perché di volare
non ha più voglia
Ma non vivere di lamento
come un cardellino accecato
d’ un amore
Credevo di averlo sparpagliato
per il mondo
Cima Quatro il 23 dicembre 1915
Un ’ intera nottata
a un compagno
con la sua bocca
volta al plenilunio
con la congestione
delle sue mani
nel mio silenzio
lettere piene d’ amore
Non sono mai stato
attacato alla vita
Versa il 20 maggio 1916
Il carnato del cielo
SAN MARTINO DEL CARSO
Valloncello dell’ Albero Isolato il 27 agosto 1916
Di queste case
non è rimasto
brandello di muro
che mi corrispondevano
non è rimasto
Ma nel cuore
nessuna croce manca
È il mio cuore
il paese più straziato
Locvizza il 28 settembre 1916
la notte è a svanire
poco prima di primavera
e di rado
Su Parigi s’ addensa
un oscuro colore
In uno canto
l’ illimitato silenzio
di una ragazza
E come portati via
Odo la primavera nei rami neri indolenziti. Si può seguire
solo a quest’ ora, passando tra le case soli con I propri pen-
È l’ ora delle finestre chiuse, ma
questa tristezza di ritorni m’ ha tolto il sonno.
Un velo di verde intenerirà domattina da questi alberi,
poco fa quando è sopraggiunta la notte, ancora secchi.
Iddio non si dà pace.
Solo a quest’ ora è dato, a qualche raro sognatore, il
martirio di seguirne l’ opera.
Stanotte, benché sia d’ aprile, nevica sulla città.
Nessuna violenza supera quella che ha aspetti silenziosi e
Απόσπασμα από το μυθιστόρημα ΚΑΙ ΣΑΝ ΣΚΙΕΣ ΕΠΙΣΤΡΕΦΟΥΜΕ [RETORNAMOS COMO SOMBRAS] του PACO IGNACIO TAIBO II (2001)
εκδόσεις Άγρα 2005
μετάφραση: Κρίτων Ηλιόπουλος
Υπάρχουν ορισμένοι που πιστεύουν ότι ένα μυθιστόρημα πρέπει να τα εξηγεί όλα. Ότι το μυθιστόρημα πρέπει να διορθώνει τη ζωή και τις ανακολουθίες της. Ήταν ποτέ η ζωή συνεπής; Και γι αυτό πιστεύουν ότι ο συγγραφέας βρίσκεται στο κέντρο του χώρου και του χρόνου, για να δίνει αρχή και τέλος στις ιστορίες (γνωρίζετε μήπως εσείς κάποια ιστορία που να έχει τέλος, στην κυριολεξία τέλος, τέλος, τέλος;), να συνδέει, να γεμίζει τρύπες και να διαλύει νεφελώδη σημεία, να εξηγεί πλήρως τη συμπεριφορά των προσώπων του.
Υπάρχουν ορισμένοι που νομίζουν πως το μυθιστόρημα έχει ενημερωτική λειτουργία και στόχο. Τίποτα δεν απέχει περισσότερο από την αλήθεια. Το μυθιστόρημα δεν γράφεται για να βάλει τάξη στο χάος. Τα μυθιστορήματα δεν είναι για να βάζουν τάξη σε καμία μαλακία. Το μυθιστόρημα δεν γεννήθηκε για να ικανοποιήσει τους εραστές της τάξης. Είναι για να απολαμβάνεις τον ίλιγγο, για να τα κάνει άνω κάτω, για να το φχαριστιέσαι και να το μπουρδουκλώνεις.
Δεν χρειάζονται απαντήσεις στις ερωτήσεις, αλλά κι άλλες, καινούργιες και πιο ανησυχητικές ερωτήσεις.
Orgasm 1: It’s Neither the Size of the Boat nor the Motion of the Ocean
Orgasm 2: Faking It
Orgasm 3: Vibration
Orgasm 4: Performance Anxiety
Orgasm 5: Your First
Orgasm 6: There Can Be Only One
Orgasm 7: Multiples
Orgasm 8: Hour-Long Orgasms
Orgasm 9: Energy Orgasms
Orgasm 10: Simultaneous Orgasms
Orgasm 1: It’s Neither the Size of the Boat nor the Motion of the Ocean
The thing I get asked about more than anything else is orgasm – specifically, women’s orgasms. How to have them, how to give them, how to have better ones, how to enjoy them more, why they are they way they are…. orgasms. They’re a Big Deal.
So I’ve made a Top 10 list. 10 things to know about women’s orgasms. Here’s Thing 1.
Orgasms during intercourse.
I recently mentioned in passing that about 1/3 of women are reliably orgasmic from penetration, another 1/3 are sometimes orgasmic from penetration, and the remaining third are never or almost never orgasmic from penetration. This is a statistic that’s been found over and over again in many different kinds of studies and I feel very confident about it.
Yet women ask me all the time, “Why can’t I have an orgasm during intercourse?” or “How can I have an orgasm during intercourse?”
Well the reason you can’t is very likely the same reason most women can’t, which is that intercourse is not a very good way to stimulate the clitoris, and clitoral stimulation is THE way to make an orgasm happen.
The “how,” therefore, is to add clitoral stimulation to intercourse. (This is technically called “assisted intercourse,” which is not very sexy but is clear and descriptive.) You can add clitoral stimulation millions of ways. You can touch your clitoris; your partner can touch your clitoris; you can use a vibrator on your clitoris; your partner can use a vibrator on your clitoris; you can sandwich a vibrator between your two bodies; you can angle penetration so that your partner’s pubic bone rocks against your clitoris; you can be on top so that your clitoris rocks against your partner’s pubic bone; you can choose a position that keeps your thighs clamped together, which allows for stimulation of your clitoris; you can explore g-spot stimulation (that’s another post)… millions of ways.
That’s the shortcut answer and it’s the one I give most often. But I have to take this opportunity to say that I wonder about this pervasive desire to have an orgasm during penetration, when it’s clearly not the thing that naturally does the trick for most women.
WHY have an orgasm during penetration? No one ever asks me that, so I’m asking you.
(Caveat Lector: If you’re a lesbian couple or a transman and a female-bodied woman couple using a dildo, you’re fucking with gender sufficiently and have probably interrogated the heteronormativity of your choice enough that I totally excuse you from the following rant.)
I can’t help thinking that penetrative orgasms are a benchmark set by men, for men. From Freud with his, “Clitoral orgasms are immature, vaginal orgasms are mature” bullshit to Cosmo’s incessant “50 Ways to Rock His Cock” headlines, male pleasure is the standard by which sexual excellence seems to be judged, and women’s pleasure is most palatable to us when it fits within that framework.
Well sucks to that, say I. Your partner should go down on you. Your partner should use his hands. You partner should put his (and I mean his – see caveat above) dick to one side and make it all about you. Making you come with his mouth should be a thrill for him and if it’s not, what the fuck is the matter with him?
So. You CAN have an orgasm through penetration by adding clitoral stimulation and also possibly by g-spot stimulation, and that’s nice, but be sure to honor your sexuality as you find it.
It’s one thing to be ABLE to have an orgasm a particular way; it’s another thing altogether – and in my opinion a thing well worth paying a great deal of attention to – not to be able to HELP having an orgasm in a particular way.
My advice: spend more time finding out what your body can’t help responding to and less time trying to make it respond to something that culture told you it’s SUPPOSED to respond to.
Orgasm 2: Faking It
The second thing in my 10 Thing Everyone Needs to Know about Women’s Orgasms:
It’s easy to do (and don’t get me started on the bad date I had with a cardiologist who insisted he could tell the difference because, he said in a smug tone that indicated that I, with my PhD in sex, was unlikely to understand this, of the contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. Can’t fake that! he said. Oh yes you can, I said. Bad. Date.)
I take a slightly heretical line on the question of faking and I’ll probably receive angry emails from second wave feminists telling me I’m submitting to the patriarchy and other angry emails from third wave feminists telling me I’m subsidizing women’s pleasure in the service of men’s.
But I promise you I’m not; I’m just dealing with physiological reality in the face of cultural demands, hoping to help women have happy, healthy sex.
Here’s the thing: A woman is less likely to have orgasms early in a relationship – her body needs time to adapt to the new partner, to learn to trust them and to relax into the knowledge that her partner accepts and appreciates her body.
At the same time, good partners revel in making a woman come. I like that in a partner, both personally and conceptually; I approve of people who enjoy women’s orgasms, on principle. As an IDEAL partner, you recognize that a woman’s orgasms might be thin on the ground early on, and you happily recognize that her intense pleasure, even in the absence of orgasm, isn’t a sign of failure but an encouraging sign that things are moving in the right direction. Then when the orgasm does happen, it’s a delicious and joyful indication that she’s moved to a new place in her connection with you. Hooray!
But most people aren’t ideal, and in particular, sorry for the generalization, but most men aren’t ideal. (After all, a woman’s female partner is maybe less likely to impose a male template on female sexuality.) They take it personally – both success and failure. If she comes, it’s because he did a great job! If she doesn’t, horrors, it’s because he failed.
Why is this? Well, because we STILL (STILL!! STILL!!!) think about women’s sexuality in terms of men’s sexuality, and for men, whose orgasms are faster, more reliable, and more homogeneous, orgasm often is the measure of satisfaction. The same standard must apply to women.
That’s bullshit, obviously, but it’s pervasive and intractable bullshit.
So here’s what happens. If a woman likes you, she wants you to feel good about the relationship. She wants you to enjoy sex with her and she wants you to know that she enjoys sex with you. If orgasm is a way she can show you she’s enjoying it, but orgasm just isn’t there for her yet, faking it is a completely viable option. You feel good, she feels good. Fair enough.
Another reason women fake it is, well, to get sex over with. Again because women want their partners to feel satisfied and happy, and sometimes men want sex more often than women do, women go along with having sex when they’re not quite there and fake it indicate that they’re ready for it to be over now. Again, IMO, fair enough.
Faking is problematic, of course, for a number of reasons:
1. If you fake it when your partner does stuff that doesn’t really do it for you, you’re teaching them the wrong thing about your sexual functioning; only fake when you COULD have had an orgasm, had trust and relaxation been more fully in place.
2. When you get right down to it, faking it is lying. Is it a harmless white lie, like “You look great in those candystriped clamdiggers”? Or is it a dark and deceptive lie, like “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”? Well there’s the rub (pardon the expression). I’m inclined to the white lie view, but lots of people disagree with me.
3. On some level it perpetuates the cultural model of women’s sexuality as a subset of men’s sexuality. Our partners should take our sexuality as they find it and not need it to be something it’s not!!! They should.
Yet they don’t.
Maybe sometime in the future I’ll post instructions for how to fake convincingly. (How heretical would THAT be, eh?)
In the meantime, a little advice:
For those who don’t want their women partners to fake it: don’t take either credit or blame for her orgasm. Her sexual responsiveness may appear complex even to the point of inconsistency.
Go with the flow.
For those women who are trying to decide whether or not to fake it, have a chat with your partner about what does and doesn’t do it for you – and most of what you say will probably be less about fingers, tongues, and phalluses and more about stress, trust, and affection.
Not a cure-all, I admit, but hell, waddaya want, it’s just a blog.
Orgasm 3: Vibration
There are two things I’d like everyone in the universe to know about women, orgasms, and vibrators:
First, 95% of women who masturbate do so with no vaginal penetration (see Orgasm 1). So even though many quality sex toy shops feature a rows of phallic vibrators lined up like soldiers, with oscillating heads and beaded shafts and god only know what else, and even though these displays make an awe-inspiring, wallet-opening presentation, in fact most of women’s masturbation involves clitoral stimulation alone.
Don’t get me wrong, ain’t nothin’ wrong with penetrative masturbation, heck no, I just wanna make sure ya’ll know that most women, most of the time, don’t do it, despite what porn, mainstream media, and, indeed, too many sex educators might have you believe.
Second, the important thing about vibrators is the intensity of stimulation they provide – far more stimulation than you can get organically. (Reference the dual control model.) For women who take longer to orgasm than they want (avg. 10-30 minutes, with wide variability, from 2 minutes to an hour +), or who have difficulty orgasming from oral, manual, or penetrative sex, a vibrator can provide more stimulation and give you more control, and it will never get frustrated, bored, or impatient.
Can you get “addicted” to your vibrator? I get asked this fairly frequently. The short answer is “No.” The longer answer is that you can certainly get used to needing only a few minutes to orgasm, and so when you go for orgasm without the toy you might feel like it’s taking aaaaaaaaaages, when really it’s just taking as long as it always did pre-vibrator. But using a vibrator will not make it impossible for you to orgasm by a different modality, just as learning to orgasm through (random example) earlobe stimulation will not prevent you from orgasming through direct clitoral stimulation.
The reason for this is that there are not 60 kinds of orgasm; there is just ONE orgasm: the explosive release of sexual tension – but that’s another post.
Orgasm 4: Performance Anxiety
“Spectatoring” is the art of worrying about sex while you’re having it.
Rather than paying attention to the pleasant and tingly things your body is experiencing, it’s like you’re floating above the bed watching, noticing how your breasts fall or the squish of cottage cheese on the back of your thigh or the roll at your belly or…. you’re worried about the sex you’re having, instead of enjoying the sex you’re having.
And worry is the opposite of arousal. It is the anti-arousal. Because anxiety slams on the brakes of your sexual inhibition system. Turning off anxiety eases off the brakes, letting your sexual response flow smoothly forward.
We know the phrase “performance anxiety” because men experience a similar phenomenon, worrying about whether or not they’ll be able to get and sustain an erection, and it makes it more difficult for them to get erections. (Of course erectile difficulties are literally the worst thing in the world. Worse than genocide. Worse than the Chilean earthquake. Worse than a government lying to its people. This is sarcasm. Erections come and go, they’re not a big deal, and if men understood that then, ironically, they’d have less trouble getting them.)
Women, whose erections are non-obvious and unnecessary, strictly speaking, for intercourse, haven’t been given credit for this particular problem, but it affects us too, often in the form of spectatoring.
Fortunately it’s one of those problems that’s simple (thought not necessarily easy) to fix! Here’s a quick and dirty how to:
Humans, unlike any other species, can be in control of their minds, rather than the other way round. We can notice what we’re thinking or feeling, and we can do something about it. That’s the key to managing performance anxiety. Notice that you’re worrying and then do something about it. Simple.
But it requires practice. Lots and lots of practice. It will probably be easiest if you begin by practicing outside the context of sexuality – say, standing in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus, notice how your arms and legs feel, how your stomach feels, what you’re thinking about, the speed with which you’re thinking, how what you’re thinking is making your shoulders and belly feel. Your breath. In. Pause. Out. Pause. Just notice.
The most important thing to notice is when your attention wanders from the thing you’re trying to notice. That skill right there? That’s mindfulness. Noticing when your attention wanders from the thing you’re trying to notice is the skill that will help you stop spectatoring, because you’ll learn to notice when you’re spectatoring and then redirect your attention to the sensations in your body.
To conclude: teach yourself to notice how your body feels and to notice when your attention wanders from how your body feels. Do it every day, even if it’s just two minutes, and apply this skill during sex. Have better sex and easier orgasms, and light up the world with your unbounded ecstasy. The world will thank you for it.
Orgasm 5: Your First
About a quarter of college age women haven’t had an orgasm, as far as they know. This post is for you.
Your first orgasm will be easiest (a) when you are alone, (b) when you are using a vibrator, if available (see orgasm 3: vibration, and (c) when you aren’t trying to have an orgasm (see irony in bed).
(B) has to do with increasing excitation cues – that is, giving your brain more reasons to tell your genitals, “Yes, NOW!!” The mechanical vibration provided by toys is more intense than anything a hand, phallus, tongue, fresh produce, or other organic stimulus can provide. More stimulation –> more arousal –> easier/faster orgasm.
(A) and (C) have to do with reducing potential inhibitors. “Inhibition” in this context doesn’t mean “shyness,” as it often gets used. It means “brakes,” things that cause your brain to tell your genitals “NOT NOW!!”
(A) helps to minimize the intrusive thoughts that many women experience when their partner is in the room. All that thinking about what your partner might be thinking about both distracts you from the pleasure you’re experiencing and gives your brain excuses to send “STOP IT!” signals to your genitals. Without your partner there, you can pay attention to the pleasure and not fret about the partner. Add the partner later, when you’ve got the hang of it.
(C), of course, begs the question, “If I can’t try to have an orgasm, what do I do while I masturbate?” Answer: you enjoy the lovely sensation of sexual arousal. You’re watching your arousal grow. You’re relaxing into the knowledge that your body is capable of bringing you pleasure and gratification. You’re celebrating this messy, noisy, awkward, cumbersome, beautiful gift your were given as a prize for being born – I mean your body – and exploring its capabilities.
It’s like you’ve just got a new toy – a car, a phone, whatever – and you’re testing out all the cool things it can do, and finding it can do way more extra-cool shit than you ever expected.
My belief is that every woman who is interested enough in sex to want to have an orgasm is capable of having one. It may take longer than you want it to, and it may take lots of stimulation and a well-trained ability to pay attention to your body and erotic thoughts, to the exclusion of intrusive and unsexy worries, but with practice and patience it can happen.
Orgasm 6: There Can Be Only One
This week’s orgasm post is a myth debunker.
Cosmo would have you believe that there are 487 different kinds of orgasm and that you’re sexually inadequate if you haven’t had them all at least twice every night, but Cosmo makes you money by making you feel bad about yourself. I don’t, so trust me instead: There is only one kind of orgasm.
This is very good news!!
Orgasm is simply the explosive release of sexual tension. How that tension is generated doesn’t matter – and humans (particularly females), in their vast sexual plasticity, can have orgasms from nearly any kind of stimulation, given practice and a sexy context.
Mostly women have them via clitoral stimulation – and let’s remember that the clitoris is everywhere you want to be, it’s VAST. We can also have them via shallow or deep vaginal penetration, internal or external anal stimulation, inner thigh or breast stimulation, earlobes, toes, backs of the knees, small of the back, arches of the feet… pretty much if there’s sensation, you can learn to have orgasms from it.
People can even have orgasms by thinking about it. There’s an utterly charming film called “Zen Pussy,” which features shots of a wide variety of vulvas – every shape, size, color, even a surgically constructed vulva – attached to women who are bringing themselves to orgasm with nothing more than their breath, their imaginations, and muscle tension. You watch their tissues swell and darken and then see their muscles flex and pulse. It’s just lovely. I highly recommend it.
And orgasms can feel different, too. One day I’ll get around to doing a g-spot post, but in the meantime just know that a g-spot generated orgasm can feel very different from a clit generated orgasm. Why? Not because it’s physiologically distinct but because context shapes perceptions and the gating mechanism and… well it’s complicated. Just they can feel different even though they’re not physiologically different. Orgasms are as heterogeneous as women are.
So anyway. Lots of ways to generate sexual tension, only one orgasmic response. Whatever way you get there is completely groovy, and if you want to learn to have them in new ways, practice, practice practice.
Orgasm 7: Multiples
I get asked about multiple orgasms pretty regularly. There are a couple different experiences people label “multiple.”
(1) You have an orgasm, you don’t stop having sex, and you have another orgasm maybe 10 minutes later;
(2) You have an orgasm and then immediately have another and immediately have another.
The second seems to require some innate pre-disposition to responsiveness in order to have it reliably. The first, though, is accessible to many women.
What is orgasm, after all? It’s the explosive release of sexual tension, when that tension crosses a certain threshold. If the orgasm fails to dissipate a bunch of that tension, then another orgasm can happen again soon, if you continue to add more stimulation/tension.
(This isn’t really true for men. When men ejaculate, their body shuts down sexually – it’s called refraction – and they truly can’t get aroused. It’s most of why a guy falls asleep after sex. If a guy can control his ejaculation, he could orgasm again, but that’s a pretty demanding skill.)
So ladies, to have multiples, you need two things:
First, you need a whole lot of sexual tension, which can only be built up over extended time.
The reason for the massive sexual tension is that there has to be some left over after the orgasm. Sexual tension accumulates over time – so have a couple hours’ worth of sexy date, where your partner is physically affectionate, looks at your with loving, desirous eyes, and says things that make you feel good about your body, your partner’s body, and sex in general.
If your partner has any verbal aptitude at all, a reasonable starting place might be sitting in a romantic restaurant over a bottle of wine, quietly enumerating the kinds of things they intend to do to make you come that evening. The first orgasm could be manual, in the car, right after you leave the restaurant, their hand up your dress, your partner could tell you. The second could be penetration, you slammed against the door as soon as your get home, panties nudged impatiently to one side. The third might be oral on the kitchen floor, because you were on the way to get whipped cream out of the fridge, but didn’t make it to the bedroom. The fourth… anyway, you get the idea. Telling a quiet, sexy story is a great start. Or at a party, hand holding, tender caresses, hair touching, little kisses on the neck and temple, these things accumulate over time.
And time is the crucial element here.
So then you get to the orgasm situation – you get home at last, for example, and get to bed – and when that first orgasm happens, DON’T STOP. Slow down yes, and avoid touching anything that might be over-sensitive post-orgasm (lots of women need their clits left WELL ALONE right after orgasm), but whatever can be touched lightly, should be. Inner thighs, the ribcage just below the breasts, the neck behind the earlobes, lips, cheekbones, keep the sexual excitation system engaged.
The second thing you need for multiple orgasms is: no other urgent physiological or psychological demands, like hunger, thirst, having to pee, being depressed or anxious, or being very tired.
Why? Because the massive accumulation of sexual tension shuts out any other needs, sexual release becomes the most urgent, the most pressing demand your body is experiencing. It’s first in line, if you will. Once that tension has dissipated, if there is another urgent need, it steps forward and demands attention. You have to pee, eat, sleep, worry, whatever.
The upshot of this is that if your life is stressful and you don’t get enough sleep, having multiple orgasms will be more difficult for you.
What else gets in the way of multiples?
Overstimulation can get in the way too. What I mean is, you can rub your arm so that it feels numb and irritated, and then with the passage of time the numbness goes away. Same with sexual parts. You can overstimulate the clit so that it needs a break. Fortunately we’re sexually adaptive creatures, so while the clit is recovering you can stimulate the g-spot, the anus, the breasts, or whatever other part generates sexual tension for you under sexy circumstances.
Also, orgasm is hard damn work for a lot of women. It takes concentration and effort and sometimes you’re just fuckin’ BEAT afterward. Getting the energy to have ANOTHER one might just be not worth the effort.
I’d like to end by saying that having just ONE orgasm is great! Multiple, extended, and all the other variations on orgasm are totally unnecessary to having a happy, healthy, fully functional sex life. It’s entertainment, a hobby. Like going dancing or putting together a model airplane.
Enriching, sure, but necessary for your health? Nah.
Orgasm 8: Hour-Long Orgasms
I don’t fully appreciate why it is people are so interested to hear about hour-long orgasms or female ejaculation, but I can’t give an orgasm talk without someone asking me about these two things. I hope it’s simple curiosity that motivates them to ask, or a playful view of sexuality that welcomes exploration of their full sexual potential. But I fear that they’re motivated by a sense of inadequacy, that if they’re not having extended orgasms with ejaculation they’re somehow broken.
So before I say anything, let’s acknowledge that having extended orgasms is the sexual equivalent of running a marathon. For most people, just jogging a few times a week will bring you all the fitness and health you need. You might occasionally do the odd 5k fun run, but it’s neither necessary nor appealing to put in the effort required to train for a marathon.
So too with orgasm. For most people, regular orgasms are plenty to keep them satisfied, and occasional excursions into the world of multiple or larger orgasm is an exciting but rare adventure.
For lots of folks, it would be more effort than it’s worth to aim for anything more complicated.
And that’s just fine – “regular” orgasms are great. So only try out this stuff because it’s fun, not because you feel like it’s necessary in order to have adequate sex. This stuff isn’t even frosting, it’s the candy that decorates the flowers on the frosting on the cake.
Here’s how it works:
Orgasm is the explosive release of sexual tension, often typified by the rhythmic contraction of the pelvic floor muscle. An extended orgasm is not an hour’s worth of contractions; instead, it’s… it’s like every cell in your body is vibrating at the same wavelength. It’s like you’re a bell that’s ringing. It’s a whole body orgasm rather than a genital orgasm.
With extended orgasm, you’re like a filled-up bathtub. Your body is filled with sexual tension. Rather than letting it explode out of you in a standard orgasm, your job is to steadily release sexual tension even as you continue to add it. Like pulling gradually draining water from the tub, while still running the water.
In order to gain this kind of control, you have two homework assignments:
First, do Kegel exercises. This is where you squeeze the sphincters of your pubococcygeal muscle – the muscle that you squeeze when you stop yourself from peeing. There are all kinds of regimens about how often and how long to do these, but the basic rule is: the more the better.
More of them, more often, held for longer and longer periods of time. At first, it might be just a second or two, but your can build up to quite a long tension. Strengthening the PC muscles will increase the intensity of the orgasmic experience and give you more control over your arousal level.
Your second homework assignment is to train yourself to be able to reliably have an orgasm within 20 minutes of manual stimulation. This gives you greater control over your arousal level, knowing that even with the normal wear and tear of daily life on your mood, stress level, relationship stability, and all the rest of it, your body will cooperate effectively.
Okay, so when you’ve got these things down – and this along might take a few months of practice – you can try this technique for generating an extended orgasm: Imagine that arousal levels happen on a scale of 0-10, where 0 is no arousal and 10 is orgasm.
Start at 0. Go up to 6, then back down to 2.
Up to 7, down to 3.
Up to 8, down to 4.
Up to 9, down to 5.
Up to 9.5 (right on the screaming edge of orgasm), down to 6.
In order to back away from the edge of orgasm, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to relaaaaax your abdomen and thigh muscles, because that tension can push you over the edge.
You’ll sense the arousal spreading from your genitals, radiating into the rest of your body.
Back to 9.5, down to 7.
Back to 9.5, down to 8.
Back to 9.5, down to 9.
Again, the primary skill this requires is monitoring the muscle tension in your abdomen, thighs, and buttocks. Too much, and you tip over the edge. Too little and you slide away from orgasm.
So that’s it. It’s a project – hell, it’s hobby – that takes time and commitment. But ya know, as hobbies go, it’s inexpensive, ecologically responsible, and calorie-free. If you’re looking for something to do, you could do worse than training yourself to have an hour-long orgasm.
And remember: if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right!
Orgasm 9: Energy Orgasms
Energy orgasm. I’ve gotten more questions about this since BigThink posted the video of Barry Komisaruk on thinking yourself to orgasm.
“Is it true that some people can have orgasms without touching themselves?”
“Cool! How does it work?”
Well, it’s complicated and it’s not well understood, but here’s my take on it:
Remember first that an orgasm is the explosive release of sexual tension, and that that tension is generated by giving your Sexual Excitation System something to respond to. Your brain notices the sexy things in the environment and sends signals down to your genitals to say, “Turn on!”
Mostly we think of sexy stimuli as sensory experiences – touch, sound, taste, smell, sight – but they can also be imagined sensory experiences.
When you think about a body part being touched, the area of your brain that represents sensation to that body part “lights up,” as if you that part were actually being touched.
Energy orgasms work because we can stimulate our genitals with our brains. People who have energy orgasms are using their brains to generate those “Turn on!” signals without external stimulation.
It’s a neat trick, to put it mildly.
How can you do it? Here’s a strategy to try:
Set aside an hour or two, and be ready to dedicate the entire window of time to sexual pleasure. Get yourself in a calm, happy, and sexy context (turn off email and phone, etc), lie in bed (or wherever) and use a combination of imagination, muscle tension, and breath to increase your arousal level.
Imagination. Have you ever sat staring idly out the window fantasizing about sex, and have you noticed that that fantasy can turn you on, even though you’re getting no physical stimulation?
Thoughts can create real physical changes in your body, and you can use this to your advantage.
This is why people fantasize even while they’re having sex – the added juice of the fantasy heightens arousal when the physical sensations aren’t enough to get us where we want to go.
I’m afraid I can’t help you with advice about what to think about – only you and your specific sexuality can figure out what kinds of thoughts turn you on. It might be an explicitly sexy story, or it might simply be imaginary sensations over the surface of your skin or it might be a non-sexual but blissful situation. Try lots and lots of things.
Muscle tension. You know all the “sexual tension” that I keep saying gets released explosively at orgasm? In large part it’s actual physical muscle tension, especially in your abdominal muscles, buttocks, thighs, and (especially) pelvic diaphragm – aka the pelvic floor muscle or pubococcygeal muscle or PC muscle or Kegel muscle. It’s the muscle you tighten to stop yourself peeing midstream.
Slow rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor muscle will generate sexually relevant stimuli that will get sent to your brain, which will stimulate your brain to send back down “Turn on!”
signals. As you’re lying there fantasizing, add slow, strong contractions of the pelvic floor muscle.
Breath. Your breath is tied inextricably to your sexuality. Ya’ll know I’m by no means a crystals-and-burnt-sage type; I eschew all religion and openly mock astrology. I like science. So when I say your breath is tied inextricably to your sexuality I mean precisely that. You may have noticed that when you get close to orgasm, you gasp, your abdominal muscles lock down, and you hold your breath until it releases in a gush and then you gasp again.
You have a second diaphragm in addition to the pelvic diaphragm; the thoracic diaphragm is an arch of muscle under your ribcage that governs the expansion and contraction of your lungs.
When it contracts, it flattens out, creating more space in the lungs, so you inhale, and when it relaxes it arches up, decreasing the volume of the lungs, so you exhale.
So what we just learned about muscle tension and sexuality tells us something: if, with high levels of sexual arousal, your muscles contract in rhythmic waves, then you thoracic diaphragm will do the same. Hence the gasp (contract!) and hold (stay contracted) and exhale – often a forceful, noisy chuff of air (relax) then gasp (contract!).
(Dear Male Readers, If you want to tell whether or not a woman is faking, watch and listen for this gasp, hold, chuff, gasp cycle. Every muscle in her body will contract at a shared rhythm. )
(Dear Female Readers: Please use this knowledge for good, not evil.)
As you become aroused, you’ll begin to breathe more deeply as your body’s demand for oxygen increases, and then as you get closer to orgasm your breath will lock into this pattern. Pay attention to your breathing and allow it to change, allow your arousal to grow with it.
So there you have it.
There are no negative consequences to not having an energy orgasm; in fact, going through this process without having an orgasm will still teach you loads about your own sexuality, give you pleasurable sexual experiences, and expand your sexual horizons. I don’t know if ANYONE can do it… but, hey if you try and don’t manage an orgasm, you’ve still had a really nice time, right?
Might as well take a whack at it at least once, eh? Some idle, rainy Saturday? Let me know how it goes.
Orgasm 10: Simultaneous Orgasms
(Apologies in advance for the heteronormativity of this post. Simultaneous orgasms are easier for same-sex couple because they aren’t necessarily facing the same biological differences that curse the straighties. Not to say they’re EASY for same-sex couples. Just a bit less difficult.)
Romance novels and movies are awash in simultaneous orgasms. Hero and Heroeen (read that like you’re Dudley Do-right) cross that exquisite threshold, launch themselves willingly over a trembling edge, and tumble downward in a spiraling, panting tangle of sheets and sweat and oxytocin.
Boy howdy, right? It’s terribly compelling, terribly romantic, this notion of fusing so utterly with your partner every barrier is shed, every defense is dropped, and your bodies lock into each other’s arousal. The boundaries of your very skin becomes permeable and you – almost literally – merge into each other, like the entrainment and synchronization of two rhythms or the joining of the Blue Nile with the White Nile or the microscopic union of egg and sperm giving rise to one new life or… whatever metaphor gets you.
But in real life, simultaneous orgasms are, like, hard. Both for emotional reasons and for straightforward mechanical reasons.
As we know from this weekend, there are some differences between men’s and women’s orgasms. Specifically, women take longer to orgasm and are less likely to orgasm from penile-vaginal penetration.
And if the goal is for two people to have an orgasm at the same time, then how long it takes you to come and what kind of stimulation gets you there, well those are things you need to be able to match up.
You need three things: You need a high degree of control over your own sexual response. You need a modality that provides enough of the right kind of stimulation to get you both to orgasm.
You need a minute awareness of your partner’s level of arousal. Control, modality, attention.
This is the easiest of the three. If you read this section and go, “DUDE that sounds HARD!” perhaps the time is not yet ripe for you to pursue simultaneous orgasm.
Gentlemen: please teach yourself to maintain a high level of arousal without ejaculating. If you can stay pretty darn aroused for half an hour, that’s a good start. An hour is better.
Ladies: please teach yourself to masturbate with your hands efficiently and reliably. If you can come reliably in 20 minutes, that’s great.
I’m gonna say there are two primary modalities for simultaneous orgasm. There are more, of course, but let’s simplify a bit.
PENETRATION. If you’re one of the 25-30% of women who are reliably orgasmic from penetration, this will be a little simpler for you. If you are instead in the majority of women, we need to find a way to add clitoral stimulation to your intercourse. Lots and lotsa ways to do that:
● Your hand on your clit
● Your partner’s hand on your clit
● You holding a vibrator on your clit
● Your partner holding a vibrator on your clit
● Sandwiching a vibrator between your two pubic bones
● Angling penetration so that your partner’s pubic bone rocks against your clit (them on top)
● Angling penetration so that your clit rocks against your partner’s pubic bone (you on top)
● Your partner straddling your thighs so you can cross your ankles and grip your thighs together during penetration
You may also find that adding anal stimulation gives that extra oomph you need to have an orgasm during penetration. Try a buttplug (just plant ‘er gently in there and leave it be during intercourse) or have your partner use a finger on or in your ass during intercourse (may require long-armed or flexible partner).
All kinds of other stimulation can be useful too. Breast stimulation. Kissing. Hair touching/pulling/gripping/etc. Face and/or throat touching. And any number of psychological dynamics that might intensify the experience for you – pinning your partner down or allowing your partner to pin you down, fantasy and role play, a sexy venue… careful, though, that these add to your arousal without distracting you so much that you lose track of your partner’s arousal.
69. Mutual, simultaneous oral sex can potentially generate simultaneous orgasm. In some ways it might be easier – women may be more orgasmic from oral sex, and fellatio in particular gives you bunches of information about your partner’s arousal level and lots of control over how aroused you let him get, so you can make sure he stays on pace with you.
The trick with 69 is that it’s difficult to split your attention between what you’re doing and what’s being done to you. This diminishes as a problem if what you’re doing is just about as arousing as what’s being done to you. In other words, it’s easier to have an orgasm during 69 if you’re as aroused by the sensations of your mouth on your partner’s genitals as you are by the sensation of your partner’s mouth on your genitals.
I’ll get into more detail about attention soon. For now, begin practicing experiencing your partner’s genitals in your mouth, and their body’s responses to that, as part of your own arousal.
I’ve left this for last because it’s potentially the most difficult.
A common barrier in all orgasm challenges is mindfulness, paying attention to what’s happening in your body to the exclusion of anything else (e.g., not thinking about your fat, your kids, your to do list, your boss [except under sexy circumstances], or your car, instead of thinking about sex whilst having sex).
Attention is an order of magnitude more difficult during simultaneous orgasms because you have to pay attention to both your own and your partner’s arousal. I mean you have to pay all the
necessary attention to yourself to get yourself to orgasm, AND you have to monitor your partner’s arousal, to get the timing right.
The people who find simultaneous orgasm easiest are probably people who find their partner’s arousal level to be highly, highly stimulating.
Fortunately, this is learnable. Begin practicing paying attention to your partner’s arousal level, and to experience it as a part of your own arousal. Imagine what it might feel like to be in their skin, what they must be feeling. Allow their arousal to feed and merge with your own arousal.
At this point, we get into the psychological part of it. At this point, you begin to shed the “my body/their body” dichotomy. At this point, you begin experiencing her skin as your skin – you feel both the firm softness of her abdomen under your hand and the warm pressure of your hand as she is experiencing it.
You live in two bodies at once. You feel with two bodies at once.
This is majorly advanced empathy. Most of us have experienced at some point – some of us experience it regularly, but most people have to work at it.
It’s good for you, this body empathy, like vegetables and jogging and 8 glasses of water a day – but more, it’s enriching, like a Jackson Pollack viewed with your nose 4 inches from the canvas, like Mozart, like a brand new idea. It’s good for you. Do it. Try it.
To conclude, allow me to say that this is all Extra Bonus Sexy Fun. Having or not having simultaneous orgasms is no reflection on your sexual health and wellness.
I think it’s worth trying though. What makes simultaneous orgasm so compelling, I believe, is the abandonment of the barriers we so often use to defend ourselves, to maintain our sense of identity, of separateness from others. It’s our task as adults to stay over our own emotional center of gravity, and simultaneous orgasm is about falling into each other at the bifurcation point between order and chaos, at the pivot between control and abandonment. It requires skilled neglect of your own personhood and precise, focused joy in your partner’s. In other words it takes practice.
Happily, every occasion that you practice can potentially improve your life and relationship – not just your sex life and sexual relationship, but your whole life, your whole relationship. It’s good. I think you should try it.
Emily is a college health educator in Massachusetts. In 2006, she completed a Ph.D. in Health Behavior with a concentration in Human Sexuality. She also holds a MS in Counseling Psychology and a BA in Psychology with minors in Cognitive Science and Philosophy. She’s worked for well over a decade in the field of sexuality education and has grown into an impassioned advocate for social justice through sexual fulfillment. Politically progressive and unapologetically atheistic, Emily has strong opinions and a big vocabulary, and she’s determined to use both to make the world a better place for human sexual expression.
The blog is an effort to combine the three crucial ingredients of a sex column: good science, good writing, good advice. If you find two, that’s pretty good; hardly ever do you get all three.
Forcing yourself to generate 500 words every day is really good practice.
Emily’s funnier in real life (and hardly ever speaks in the third person). She’s also the author of The Good in Bed Guide to Orally Pleasuing a Man and The Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms. You should read her blog. http://emilynagoski.com
Μετανάστευσα στη Σουηδία γιατί δεν άντεχα την πείνα του κυνηγημένου. Δεν τα έβγαζα
πέρα με τη βία που με ακολουθούσε παντού σα σκιά. Δεν μπορούσα να την αντιμετωπίσω
ούτε καν γράφοντας. Η μυθοπλασία δεν ήταν του χεριού μου. Μια κοπέλα με ολόλευκο
νυφικό σ’ ένα ανοιχτό φέρετρο λίγες στιγμές πριν την ταφή, είναι μια κοπέλα με ολόλευκο νυφικό σ’ ένα ανοιχτό φέρετρο – μια εικόνα που παγώνει στο χρόνο και αφαιρεί από το νου μου τα λόγια, ισοπεδώνει κάθε τοπίο μέσα μου και με καθηλώνει. Γνώρισα τον αδελφό της λίγα χρόνια μετά τη δολοφονία της. Έμενε με τους γονείς του σ’ ένα διαμέρισμα στην Ανθούπολη. Τον έβλεπα συχνά, και κάθε φορά μου έδειχνε τις ζωγραφιές της Σταματίνας. Η πίκρα του είχε μεταμορφωθεί σε κυνισμό, κι ένιωθα πως οτιδήποτε τον περιτριγύριζε ήταν στα μάτια του περιττό.
Η ζωή είναι ένα καράβι, κι όταν φτάσει πια η στιγμή να ξεμπαρκάρουμε θυμόμαστε μόνο
όσους αγαπήσαμε. Ο Γιώργος θυμόταν μόνο την αδελφή του – ήταν έτοιμος να εγκαταλείψει το καράβι. Η μνήμη αγγίζει καλύτερα ό,τι δεν μπορούμε να ορίσουμε. Η δική μου, ώρες-ώρες, αγγίζει τ’ απομεινάρια ενός απολιθωμένου δάσους γεμάτου τρυφερότητα και βία. Το 1974, δυο μήνες πριν το τέλος της δικτατορίας, έτρεχα μια νύχτα να ξεφύγω από τους ασφαλίτες κοντά στο Λεόντειο Λύκειο Νέας Σμύρνης. “Θα σου την ανάψω”, είχε βροντοφωνήσει ένας τους, τότε που οι αστυνομικοί φοβούνταν λιγότερο από τους σημερινούς αφού σε προειδοποιούσαν πρώτα. Ήταν οι αγνοί μπάτσοι της δικτατορίας και με είχαν δει να βαδίζω αμέριμνος γύρω στα μεσάνυχτα, γεγονός που τους φάνηκε ύποπτο γιατί ήμουν ολομόναχος με τα μακριά μου μαλλιά ν’ ανεμίζουν στο μαγιάτικο αέρα, σ’ ένα απότα πιο απόμερα στενά της γειτονιάς. Ήμουν ευτυχισμένος και οι μπάτσοι δεν άντεξαν την ευτυχία μου και με γονάτισαν στην άσφαλτο προτού φτάσω στις μαγικές κρυψώνες των κήπων. Τους ξέφυγα χτυπώντας τους με τη μανία ενός αγοριού που δεν είχε καν κλείσει τα δεκατέσσερα και που έξι μήνες νωρίτερα είχε μαγευτεί από τη φράση “είμαστε άοπλοι” των εξεγερμένων του Πολυτεχνείου. Οι αστυνομικοί ένιωσαν τη βία στο κορμί τους και ξαφνιάστηκαν. Κι όσο ήμουν μικρός, πίστευα πως η βία είχε αποκλειστικά κάτι το άμεσο και σωματικό –πέρασε καιρός ώσπου να νιώσω πόσο είχα δηλητηριαστεί μέσα μου, ώσπου να ψυχανεμιστώ πως οι αόρατες πληγές βαθαίνουν όταν σε τσακίζουν οι άνθρωποι της δικής σου υπέροχης πυρηνικής οικογένειας. Έξω, υπάρχει απλώς ο κόσμος των συνηθισμένων κοινωνικών επαφών που εκτυλίσσονται μέσα στη μικροπρέπεια, μια μορφή βίας που χαράζεται στα πρόσωπα χαρίζοντάς τους μια μόνιμη μάσκα απανθρωπιάς. Αλλά είναι μια μάσκα που μαθαίνεις εύκολα να τη διαβάζεις.
Δέκα χρόνια μετά το περιστατικό με τους ασφαλίτες, περιπλανιόμουν στην Ανθούπολη
προσπαθώντας να γνωρίσω μια άλλου είδους βία που αφορούσε όσα έκαναν τα αγόρια και
τα κορίτσια στο ίδιο τους το κορμί, όταν πια άρχιζαν να εγκαταλείπουν τη νιρβάνα του
χασισιού για να βυθιστούν στην ηρωίνη. Ό,τι δεν μπορούσε να κάνει ο ξυλοδαρμός το
κατάφερνε η πρέζα. Φαινομενικά, ήταν εύκολο να μιλήσεις για κατηγορίες και να εντάξεις σε ομάδες και κουλτούρες, στην πραγματικότητα όμως οι αλήθειες ήταν όσες και οι άνθρωποι. Μοιραζόμασταν ένα διάχυτο πόνο. Έτσι τουλάχιστον πίστευα τότε. Τα παιδιά στην Ανθούπολη δοκίμαζαν τα στιλέτα τους πετώντας τα στην ξύλινη επένδυση των μπαρ. Τα ποτά που έπιναν ήταν νοθευμένα και το χασίσι κακής ποιότητας – το καλό πιώμα ήταν σπάνιο σαν τετράφυλλο τριφύλλι κι ήταν συνήθως ρεζερβέ για τα παιδιά των πλούσιων οικογενειών που δεν είχαν ακούσει ποτέ για την Ανθούπολη. Αδέξιος και νέος καθώς ήμουν, νόμιζα πως θα μπορούσα ν’ αλλάξω τα πράγματα, ν’ αλλάξω τη ζωή.