From Trauma to Orgasms

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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 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.

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