Sex Column: On Pleasure

Dear readers,

I would like to put forward a proposal. I would like to assert that the act of sex—any act of sex—is not synonymous with seeking orgasm. Popular culture, media, and pornography (as they are wont to do) have perpetuated the simple belief that the orgasm is everything to sex. Of course, I am not trying to bash the orgasm. Orgasms are pretty awesome, and I am not arguing against seeking orgasms during sex. However, focusing on orgasm above all else has had the effect of diminishing the importance of or ignoring altogether other forms of sexual pleasure. Instead, I want to take this moment to celebrate all forms of sexual pleasure (orgasms included!).

If anything, every sex act has the potential to be pleasurable in and of itself and not just because some of them eventually lead to orgasm. For instance, the act and process of arousal can and should be explored and milked for all its worth. A very particular kind of fun can be had from exploring arousal: the different types of touches that produce excitement, the fantasies that stretch the abilities of your imagination, and the general enjoyment that arises from the process of play.

The search for sensations that add pleasure but aren’t necessarily “orgasmic” in nature can also add to those moments that may be more heated. While focusing solely on genitalia can be productive in reaching orgasm, the human body has a whole range of sense that can be stimulated in the process. Light touches pretty much anywhere else only add to the overall experience. By adding these different touches, you may eventually find new sensations that you like.

By removing the orgasm goal, certain pleasurable sensations that have been previously ignored in favor of thinking about the future pleasure of orgasm may surprise you. Just simple changes to how you think about sex can change how you experience sex. And don’t be afraid to think certain thoughts. The value of fantasy is its inherent unreality. No one has to know what you are thinking about unless you want them to. In addition, just because something is supposed to feel good does not mean it has to feel good for you. Sometimes, certain things don’t feel good until other things have into place before them. So again, I give you my constant refrain: explore and try something different! The explorations that ignore or delay orgasms can ultimately result in more intense orgasms later on.

So, now that I have hopefully convinced you that the other parts of sex can be fun too, I feel obligated to talk a little more about the orgasm. I will first recognize that not all orgasms are created equal. At least not according to science in the media. Only recently has there been some consensus that the female orgasm exists. Moreover, while we have a fairly accurate popular script on how to achieve male orgasm (and some puerile hand motions, sounds, and other charming markers of maturity to go along with this script), the female orgasm is a mysterious animal to be searched for furtively and celebrated ceremoniously when found on chance. Which is ridiculous. I believe that the notion that male-bodied individuals can have orgasms anytime they want but female orgasms are just a lot of hard work is constructed through the kind of information that is taught about particular bodies.

I believe that most individuals have an understanding that the clitoris is a point (or possibly the point) of pleasure for women. However, stimulation of the clitoris is not the only and possibly not the best way to achieve orgasm for female-bodied persons. Some individuals have been documented as being able to orgasm by sheer force of thought and willpower. Furthermore, there are still a lot of misunderstandings about the clitoris and how it should be treated. For example, the clitoris is very sensitive. There is an impressive concentration of nerves in just one very compact location. Heavy stimulation may sometimes be painful and even light stimulation may be uncomfortable at the very beginning for certain individuals. So, once you’ve found the clitoris, don’t celebrate by being overzealous.

In much the same way that focusing on orgasms can be both awesome and distracting, focusing too heavily on one body part like the clitoris can be both awesome and distracting. There is no harm in starting with less intense sensations and lighter touches. This applies for all bodies (though I think the clitoris is a rather illustrative example): even if the script says that something is supposed to pleasurable, you won’t know until you try it yourself, and starting slow and light while focusing on the present actions and sensations is always the best way to explore.

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