Viewing Your Vulva is the First Step to Becoming a Fully Orgasmic Woman

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Betty Dodson

One of my favorite moments in every private session and Bodysex workshop is viewing women’s sex organs. Just think: I’ve been doing this ritual nearly fifty years and never for one moment have I gotten tired of seeing the vast variety and beauty of vulvas. Each and every one is a unique work of art. This is when I appreciate my years of art schooling learning to draw the classical nude. There was no better way to sharpen my ability to see the over-all form as well as the smallest details.

One recent client was a 46 year old, sophisticated NY entrepreneur who was doing very well in her professional life. Yet her sex life was suffering because she’d never really had an orgasm other than a few minor blips when she pressed up against her bed. This very indirect clitoral stimulation is quite common and often used during childhood. She was smart enough to realize an orgasm would feel more dramatic than what she was currently experiencing. She was a tall woman with a healthy fit body, beautiful face and a mop of black curls. I’ll call her Carol to protect her anonymity.

She said she felt she was either passing through orgasms she was not aware of or not going far enough. Carol confessed she never spent much time masturbating because she felt it was a chore and a waste of time. It was better when her husband helped her to have a fantasy but she always reached a point of frustration even though she was doing her best to let go and not worry about the results. Still she could not reach an orgasm and then admitted she wasn’t even sure what an orgasm would feel like.

When we sat down to do her genital exam, she confessed that she’d never really looked at her vulva, ever. Although that’s difficult for me to understand, I knew she was telling the truth because this is far too common for many women. When her legs first spread open, a large patch of unruly dark pubic hair covered the upper part of her sex organ. Her inner lips were all rumpled up having been stuffed inside her underwear and tight jeans. This is when she was convinced “it” was ugly.

I offered her some almond massage oil so she could apply it to her vulva hand over hand as she did her first genital massage while watching in the mirror. As she spread her inner and outer lips now glistening with oil, her sex organ became a lovely design. Over the years of viewing, I’ve likened the vulva to architectural periods such as Renaissance for drapery or Art Deco for fluted lines. Or it can appear as a floral design like an orchid or a fruit such as a peach or fig. It gives the owner a frame of reference with the ability to view her genitals as an object designed by Mother Nature or as a work of art created by Master builders. After checking out her pelvic floor muscle, locating her urethral opening and answering any questions about moles or strange skin tags or any imagined flaws including dark inner lips, we then we have a naming ceremony. I am her witness.

While it might sound frivolous, I find it empowering to choose a pet name as you would for anything that is special and adored. The ritual ends with her parting comments to her newly acknowledged divine vulva that includes an apology for ignoring this important part of her body—the source of procreation, pleasure and power. Men long for pussy; fight wars and each other to possess one, and yet, many women have never had the curiosity to view the one that’s between her own legs.

The first MOST important step in viewing your sex organ is a mirror that frees both hands. I prefer at least an 8 inch diameter. The magnifying side of a make-up mirror doesn’t work for vulva viewing due to distortion. That small compact mirror with one foot on the edge of the bathtub while pulling your outer labia off to one side will not give you an authentic image. That would be like pulling your mouth to one side to see how you look when smiling. The other element is a good light source.

Never touch your vulva with dry fingers. If nothing else, use saliva. Before you explore your sex organ, cover your hands with organic vegetable, almond, coconut or avocado oil. Now do an overall vulva massage while watching in the mirror. Consciously touch the areas above, below and alongside your clitoris. You can pull the protective hood back and gently touch the tiny clitoral glans. The clitoral hood is there for protection. Once you feel how sensitive it is, you’ll know not to stimulate the glans directly. This tiny organ has 8,000 nerve endings and must be handled with care. So many young women say they are “rubbing" their clitoris which sounds like scrubbing the bottoms of their feet. Be sweet and gentle with this tiny gut powerful sex organ.

Another important aspect in learning how to masturbate is to remember that a first time will rarely produce satisfactory results. Entertaining your clitoris would be like preparing a gourmet meal. It takes knowledge, planning, patience and repeated practice to master any skill. This begins by having an image of your sex organ with the intricate parts that not only gives us endless pleasure with orgasms but can also birth a baby. Talk about power! It’s all right there between our legs waiting to be discovered, understood, enjoyed and shared. Once the Divine Vulva is honored by the owner, her partner and the society at large as it once was in antiquity, Pussy Power will be a fact of women’s lives.

I was around 10 years old the first time I looked at my sex organ. My girlfriends and I had been talking about where babies came from and I wanted to see the hole between my legs. Getting my mother's hand mirror from her dressing table, I propped it against a pillow on the floor while I sat under a window with sun streaming into my bedroom. When I took that first look, I was horrified! My inner-lips extended beyond the outer lips and looked just like those funny things that dangled from a chicken’s neck. Immediately I knew I’d stretched them from too much masturbation. At first, I stuffed both of them inside my vagina, but they came right back out. Now everyone would know I’d been playing with myself since age five. On the spot, I promised God if He would get rid of them, I’d never masturbate again!

Then upon closer observation, I noticed the inner lip on the right side was longer, so I made a deal with God. I would masturbate on the left side until they evened up and then I’d stop forever! From that day on, I had my fingers on the left side of my clitoris, but my inner labia never evened up or dropped off— so much for God and symmetry.

Years later I’d realize my good fortune: I’d been raised by an orgasmic mother who believed masturbation was a natural activity for children. Those first explorations of our genitals as children become the basis of our sexlives as adults. Masturbation is the foundation for all human sexual activity. It's our first natural sexual activity; the way we discover our sex organ and the pleasurable feelings when we touch them. Any shaming, punishment, or other negative response from a parent or care giver will eventually show up as a sex problem when we reach adulthood. The prohibition of masturbation denies the natural development of connecting nerve pathways from our sex organ to the pleasure center in the brain.

During the next 25 years, my imaginary genital deformity was a serious handicap when I had sex with a partner. Finally at 35, my post marital lover asked if he could look at me after I’d had a fabulous orgasm with oralsex. I burst into tears confessing I’d stretched my inner lips from too much childhood masturbation. For a moment he looked at me in disbelief and then dashed off to return moments later with a stack of magazines. He spread several on the bed and began showing me photos of women's genitals. Back in the sixties “Girlie Magazines” had a wide variety of women’s natural sex organs with real bodies and no photo shop or surgically trimmed inner lips. He explained that when a woman held her outer lips open, it was called “Split Beaver.”

Two years of therapy hadn’t made a dent in my sexual ignorance. However, just fifteen minutes of viewing images of authentic women’s sex organs allowed me to realize I was normal. Discovering the beauty of my vulva dramatically changed my life, especially when it came to being sexually intimate with a partner. That experience inspired me to produce a feminist slide show of women’s genitals for the first (and last) Women’s Sex Conference in 1973: sponsored by NOW, the National Organization for Women in New York City. Since photographs of women’s sex organs are considered pornographic, I did pen and ink drawings of vulvas for my first self-published book, Liberating Masturbation: a Meditation on Selflove. They have since been copied and shown by therapists to women around the world. Unfortunately each new generation must suffer through the notion that something is wrong with their vulva.

Today many porn stars get their inner lips trimmed because some Jackass decided men prefer the clam shell look. It’s time women claim our own sex organ and rescue it from the porn industry, and misguided sex professionals who base their understanding of women’s sexual pleasure upon the male model of sexual response that favors vaginal penetration as the primary sex act. While a penis in a vagina is the procreative model, it ignores a woman’s primary sex organ for pleasure and orgasms— the clitoris. Viewing your vulva, knowing the different parts and accepting its appearance as a work of art is the first step to becoming a fully orgasmic woman.

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