The majority of people with vulvas only orgasm through clitoral stimulation. Thousands of words will have been printed on this topic already, however it still doesn’t seem to have to fully penetrated the cis, straight mindset in Aotearoa. Faking it is an old and, frankly, boring trope, but you know what’s even more boring? The main site of sexual pleasure — the vulva — being ignored and taboo.
My first time happened because another boy planted a condom in my room to help his dipshit mate make a move. The note was written in glitter glue. I remember it being wet and sticky, not even dry yet. It had been placed on my desk while we were out at some horrible Queen Street first-year bar. He was… nice enough. Not hugely inspiring in retrospect, but he was present, and persistent – the two sexiest ‘p’s in romance. Plus, the neon ‘virgin’ sign on my forehead blinked constantly and made it hard to see clearly.
Despite the obvious message of the glitter glue note that night, I still don’t think we were able to verbalise the word ‘sex’, just a combination of “Well… here’s this note… should we maybe… you know…?’ I probably gave my consent by way of a nervous giggle, as I had been taught by my early-noughties ‘feminist’ icons, Mia Thermopolis and Viola Hastings. I anticipated enjoying it, right up until I realised that the sex finished when he ejaculated in our donated condom and pulled out. It was not wet or sticky, and I still got my first UTI.
I was initiated! And so, I began my double life as an outspoken feminist during the daytime, to someone who could barely speak come the nighttime. Only eight years later am I finally starting to break that habit. My hope is that I can spare you all this self-discovery and boredom.
This boy fucked me that night and continued to do so for the next year. I was frustrated to tears at times afterwards as we lay in bed, because I could not articulate my desire, and he seemingly had no idea about what would actually get me off. He would flirt with touching my clit, as part of our very brief foreplay. But I didn’t know then that I could say yes, or no, or stay there, or like that… or not like that.
I did know what I wanted him to do, I just didn’t think I was allowed to want it. I had started masturbating during high school, on high alert behind my childhood bedroom door. But ‘girls don’t masturbate,’ and I was taught to believe that proper sex involves a penis, in a vagina and a bit of mess at the end. That is what I had been shown on screen. I don’t think I even knew the names of my own anatomy. Nobody talked about the clitoris, nobody talked about female orgasms. I didn’t have the language to talk about my experience with sex, which was so different from the representations I was fed by pop culture.
Similarly disappointing experiences stacked up over the years. One-night-stand after one-night-stand of pumping away; me mute on instructions for my own pleasure, and the boy either unaware, or uncaring. Perhaps this is the unifying experience of young womanhood in Aotearoa: the vague and noncommittal affirmations you offer up to the guy on the other side of the penis inside you, just to just get it all over with.
Even when I have had a long-term relationship, my lack of vocabulary compounds with a crushing shame about my desire, and I find it impossible to talk about sex effectively. I tried with my first boyfriend, dancing around the scary word (CLIT – AGHHH!), but he just became increasingly confused, his eyes wide and bulging as he tried to supportively nod and agree his way towards comprehension of something that I didn’t even understand myself. When we finally got into bed, he was so nervous and unsure about what I wanted from him that he nearly started crying himself.
Over the years, I have slowly learnt how to ask for what I want. I finally thought to google it and discovered that I am not the only one that needs clitoral stimulation to come – most people with vulvas do. Maybe you already knew this, or maybe, like me, you came of age believing anything outside of the male-centric ‘p in v’ script was abnormal. If I can save even one person the angst by declaiming so publicly that it really is not, and help you remove the icky sex-shaming stigma around your own sexual encounters, then the awkward interactions with future employers who take the time to check my online persona will be worth it (I think).
‘What do you like?’ a boy recently asked me. I was floored – could I just say it? No, of course I couldn’t! CLIT – AGHHH! So, I decided to publish an extremely personal piece about one of my most intimate hang-ups instead. But the next boy… watch out!