From Trauma to Orgasms

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 16:47
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Every Woman on the Planet Has Been Sexually Traumatized.

At best, we've been objectified, demeaned, shamed, guilted, and manipulated into believing that we don't deserve pleasure on our own terms. At worst, we've been groped, assaulted, raped and blamed for male lust. Betty and I have traveled the globe and there isn't a society or culture where women have true sexual equality. The clitoris is ignored. The female model of sexual response isn't even part of the discussion. Procreate sex reigns supreme. Female chastity and male dominance are the norm and, sadly, the rape culture persists.

What this means is that we all have to work through past trauma to get to pleasure. And I believe that this is the first step in the healing process: understanding that you're not alone and acknowledging your truth. The #metoo movement may be the silver lining to the social media circle jerk that we all have been subjected to - for the first time women feel true community instead of isolating victimhood. We are stronger together...our voices are being heard...action is being taken.

It Wasn't Your Fault.

When we stop blaming ourselves, we can assign blame to our true abusers, call them out, and move forward with our lives. As a teen girl, I remember the moment when I decided to stop beating on myself for allowing a grown man to assault me. I was a child. He was an adult and what he did was fucked up and criminal. It took a bit of time to let myself feel anger because society places blame squarely on the woman even when you're a girl. All that BS about girls wanting the attention or dressing for sex is misogyny in it's purest form. In our darkest moments, family and friends can be the cruelest. Ultimately, I had to accept that I was on my own and had to heal myself.

I wanted to be happy and, more specifically, I wanted to have great sex...fun...orgasms...share pleasure with good people. I wasn't going to let anyone take my sex life away from me. My anger and refusal to be limited by his deviance is why I'm here at D&R, running workshops with Betty, and helping other women overcome shame and guilt. Once we find our way, it's incumbant on each of us to shephard other women along the path.

You're Not Damaged Goods.

Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom when she was 14 years old. She was held captive a few miles from her family home, raped repeatedly, but didn't try to run away when she had the chance because she believed she was "damaged goods". In her abstinance-only sex ed class, her teacher had described how girls who had sex before marriage where like chewed up pieces of gum that no one would want. Today, Elizabeth is married with a family and tours the country lecturing against abstinence-only sex ed curriculum and the damaging effect it has on young girls.

The Slut Stigma is BS.

Our obsession with female chastity and refusal to acknowledge women as sexual beings perpetuates our cultural fascination with young girls and non-consensual sex. All good girls say no at first = rape culture plain and simple. And if I read one more news headline about some grose middle-aged man kidnapping and impregnating a teen girl, I'm going to throw up. The slut stigma has to go. I will express my sexuality without shame and support my sisters to do the same...we are not competing. We are allies.

Women and girls are more than their body parts. We are more than our sexual encounters. I've had a ton of consensual sex and I had no problem falling in love and becoming a mother with a partner who respected me and valued my experience. If we could only stop defining sex as an act of male dominance, we could save future generations of women so much pain.

Our sexuality is divine. Orgasms should be shared, not taken or given. Woman must be free to say yes and to say no.

Self Love is the First Step.

When we've experience pain, it's hard to forget. Certain images or scenarios in films would trigger me. I liked kissing but, when things went further, I either froze or jumped right in to prove that I wasn't fucked up. In the end, partner sex left me feeling numb. Betty and I hear this alot from women writing into D&R - after a sexual assault or a sexless marriage women just don't "feel any pleasure anymore". Disassociating from our bodies and our orgasm is a coping mechanism.

Sometimes when our body leads our mind and heart follow. This is why conscious masturbation is critical to accepting pleasure into our lives. I didn't feel like touching my body. I didn't feel like having an orgasm but I pushed myself to do it 1-2 times a week. I picked up the magic wand, a small dildo, and some natural oil lubricant. I would lie on my back and lube up my clitoris...when I had any negative thought I would imagine pulling that thought out of my head, placing it in a box, and closing the lid. It took about a year but eventually I could touch myself without feeling any guilt or shame. Orgasm wasn't my goal. My goal was to "feel the good feelings" (Betty Dodson).

I realized that I really liked penetration, especially when I controlled it. There was one night when I came home for a night on the town and decided to kick off a 3-hour self love session. I was dancing around my room in candlelight looking at my body in the mirrors that hung over my dresser and on the front of my closet door, as I orgasmed. It was pure pleasure without the pressure of pleasing a partner or feeling judged for my sexual expression.

This is when I really started fantasizing. I would imagine having sex with all sorts of undesirable people. I allowed my mind to follow my clit, nothing was too far. It was a beautiful journey where nothing was taboo and I was free to explore the nastiest fantasy I could conjure. My favorite fantasy was angel rape, a whole Sodom and Gomora scene planted in my subconscious by my Christian fundamentalist background.

It was then that I knew I had the necessary foundation of self love to move forward to orgasmic sex with partners.

**circles of women are powerful, healing spaces. If Betty was running Bodysex workshops back then, I would have signed up for a group as part of my self love process. Sharing my truth first person, displaying my vulva and sharing my orgasm with other supportive women continues my healing today. I don't know how long it would have taken me to get my vagina back and feel sexual again after the birth of my son if I hadn't run 3 groups pregnant and 3 groups right after his birth.

Sex On Your Terms.

I was married at 20, entered law school at 22, and divorced at 28. My casual sex days didn't start until I was well into my 30's. When Betty and I compared notes, we realized that neither of us had casual sex in our teens or in college. We were too focused on our education and training - our careers - and masturbation was our mainstay. We feel that young women should experiment with their bodies and, if they're straight, reserve penetrative, penis/vagina sex for later when they know how to give themselves an orgasm, communicate that to a partner and access birth control and abortion (because nothing is 100%). Learning to state your pleasure takes time.

I wouldn't trade anything for the sex I had in my thirties. I'd banished guilt and shame. I'd masturbated round the clock and my clit was primed.

Fuck for Fun.

I had sex with anyone I wanted....on my terms. That meant that I was on top - I controlled penetration - I stimulated my clitoris during sex, toys were always present, and I left when I wanted to regardless of their feelings. Yes, I had relationships but I was rarely monogamous. Looking back on it, I'm proud that I put myself first. The most feminist thing you can do is fuck for fun. When sex isn't about finding a soulmate or starting a family, it can be pretty hot. Pleasure for the sake of pleasure alone is the ultimate in self love.

For me, it came down to one simple choice. I refuse to be manipulated and controlled on any level. When I read high-profile mommy bloggers talk about living their lives without pleasure for the sake of the family, I cringe. How did womankind get to a place where feeling good is wrong, or too much to ask? When I put myself first, I'm a better wife and mother. Orgasm is the source of my creative energy and, when I have regular orgasms, I'm happier - I have more to give the world. It may sound over-the-top but I believe that if all women were orgasmic we could heal the planet in one generation because we're the mothers.

Orgasm is the Grounding.

Giving birth, living in a sexless marriage, walking around with a vagina - we experience trauma every day. The beautiful thing about being a woman is that we have the keys to happiness and healing right between our legs: the clitoris. We have an organ that exists solely for pleasure and, at any moment, we can lube up our fingers, reach down, and stimulate ourselves to orgasm. God, if men had clits, there would be no war.

It feels like the tide is turning, that things are going to open up for women in new ways. I hope that we'll let orgasm be our guide and unleash the true potential of womankind. Connecting to my sexual power with regular orgasms heals everyone around me. When I masturbate, I imagine releasing that positive energy into the universe for Grayson. I want more for him and I can manifest that through pleasure.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Thank You

Mon, 01/01/2018 - 22:11
Baby Feminist (not verified)

First of all, I want to say that I love this site. There is so much useful information about female sexuality on here, with a feminist perspective. Betty, you are awesome!
Carlin, I am so sorry you had to deal with the trauma of sexual assault when you were still a child. Any culture that would make you feel as though that was your fault is fundamentally WRONG.
I am also hopeful that the #metoo movement will generate a sea change in the way men treat women in our culture. I myself have been subjected to numerous catcalls: crude words, whistling, honking, etc. The first came when I was only 14.
Keep up the good work promoting female pleasure and calling out the patriarchy!
Baby Fem

The strength of a culture

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 14:47
lsjb (not verified)

The strength of a culture that abuses and deligitimizes women would need to be shattered by an extremely forceful catalyst.  Donald Trump may represent the only instigator that could  destroy generations of misogny.  So, I guess we  DO have something to thank him for. 
All we really need to continue the avalanche of change, is to energize #metoo and convince women, yes women, that they have power and value.  It will take courage.There are many women who fear taking responsibility for themselves. Economic inequality and parental duties inform their motivation to stay the course.
Lets be clear. This is not as easy as it sounds.  It's still a treacherous and complicated change.  It's going to take generations but it seems we're finally on the way.
Thank you Mr. Trump (and Billy Bush, poor guy).

YES! Thank you so much for writing this!

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 21:33
ajthecat (not verified)

I've always felt that there wasn't any room for sexual assault survivors in sex positivism. Since we are either dismissed by having our own experience invalidated or seen as sexually negative if we become uncomfortable by certain things. Thank you for proving that wrong with this article. I already have it bookmarked! I personally no longer want to let some manipulative user have control over my sexuality nor do I want to continuing living in denial about what really happened to me. Playing it off as something that wasn't a "big deal". I want to learn more about my sexuality and learn to become more sexuality assertive. To all the survivors that follow this website, I just wanted to say this - you will never forget what happened to you, but that does not mean it has to dictate where you are going. Having control over your own contentment and pleasures is the strongest way to move forward. 

Whether Sister or Brother, Carlin is all of us

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:12
???? feminist indignation ???? (not verified)

Dear Carlin,

Thank you for the current installment. I have been wondering if and how this amassing story of the expressions of the tapestry of your life would continue to unfold here. What a bold and expressive surprise to listen to so many expressions, nuances and hard felt feelings that come up when one reflects one ones life from womb to parenthood - A reflection in part of how as even as an infant adults’ needs were met at our expense.

Carlin, having been a first time parent it is rather refreshing to read your essays about the subject. We convey meaning through stories so there is always a story and separately the meaning of the story, the reason the story is told. Here, we hear many stories, a few meanings but I’m guessing from the impact it has on me in transcending your stories, events actions the meaning I receive is manifest in your statement “…I imagine releasing that positive energy into the universe for Grayson. I want more for him and I can manifest that through pleasure.”(See Carlin’s terminal paragraph for her context)

I’m wondering if you wanted me to hear the terminal sentence with the power and intention with which I received it? “I want more for him and I can manifest that through pleasure.” That you want his life filled with the wonder of exploring the autonomy of his being in harmony with others. That he grows up knowing the social cost of either he or others acting at someone else’s expense. Less abstractly as a parent, you his soul source of security in the world you can support him without meeting your needs at his expense. The latter being as it turns out a rather difficult thing to do because parents have extreme power, which can manifest adversely in so many different ways.

Holding a child, your child is like seeing our tremulously child and adulthood flash before us. All those times we were powerless to be heard, safe, understood our emotions well up and we prey we can do better than our parents for sake of all the children – all of
humanity.

We say to ourselves; when we see others powerless to be heard, to be safe or understood or we ourselves are in pain, because of our childhood, it is possible to say to ourselves, “Their suffering is ‘for there own good’ that’s the way it was for me! Now look at me. Because of that pain I experienced as a child, I am a big, strong independent adult. I can now therefore ‘for their own good’ inflict pain on others to meet my needs”. This is a hard thing to feel, admit, and overcome in ourselves.

Oh dear Carlin are you saying to parents, feel, admit, past pain, overcoming it too create positive energy? Attempt to raise children with positive joy, radiate the love of secure connection to every valley and summit for the actual good of us all. Is that the meaning you wanted known when you say “… I can manifest that through pleasure.”?

Readers take note: whether sister or brother, Carlin is all of us.

???? feminist indignation ????

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 11:15
???? feminist indignation ???? (not verified)

Dear Carlin,

Thank you for the current installment. I have been wondering if and how this amassing story of the expressions of the tapestry of your life would continue to unfold here. What a bold and expressive surprise to listen to so many expressions, nuances and hard felt feelings that come up when one reflects one ones life from womb to parenthood - A reflection in part of how as even as an infant adults’ needs were met at our expense.

Carlin, having been a first time parent it is rather refreshing to read your essays about the subject. We convey meaning through stories so there is always a story and separately the meaning of the story, the reason the story is told. Here, we hear many stories, a few meanings but I’m guessing from the impact it has on me in transcending your stories, events actions the meaning I receive is manifest in your statement “…I imagine releasing that positive energy into the universe for Grayson. I want more for him and I can manifest that through pleasure.” (See Carlin’s terminal paragraph for her context)

I’m wondering if you wanted me to hear the terminal sentence with the power and intention with which I received it? “I want more for him and I can manifest that through pleasure.” That you want his life filled with the wonder of exploring the autonomy of his being in harmony with others. That he grows up knowing the social cost of either he or others acting at someone else’s expense. Less abstractly as a parent, you his soul source of security in the world you can support him without meeting your needs at his expense. The latter being as it turns out a rather difficult thing to do because parents have extreme power, which can manifest adversely in so many different ways.

Holding a child, your child is like seeing our tremulously child and adulthood flash before us. All those times we were powerless to be heard, safe, understood our emotions well up and we prey we can do better than our parents for sake of all the children – all of humanity.

We say to ourselves; when we see others powerless to be heard, to be safe or understood or we ourselves are in pain, because of our childhood, it is possible to say to ourselves, “Their suffering is ‘for there own good’ that’s the way it was for me! Now look at me. Because of that pain I experienced as a child, I am a big, strong independent adult. I can now therefore ‘for their own good’ inflict pain on others to meet my needs”. This is a hard thing to feel, admit, and overcome in ourselves.

Oh dear Carlin are you saying to parents, feel, admit, past pain, overcoming it too create positive energy? Attempt to raise children with positive joy, radiate the love of secure connection to every valley and summit for the actual good of us all. Is that the meaning you wanted known when you say “… I can manifest that through pleasure.”?

Readers take note: whether sister or brother, Carlin is all of us.

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