Orgasm not required, says the Guardian

An article in the Guardian called “Orgasm addicts, sex doesn’t have to be red hot” is a mainstream and non-threatening incursion into the world of orgasm control and denial. The point of the piece, written by author Isabel Losada, is that orgasm doesn’t need to be the ultimate focus of sex and, DUH, totally agree with that. But the headline is perplexing.

“Orgasm addicts,” I think, perpetuates the myth that sex addiction is a thing. We’re genetically programmed to be orgasm “addicts” and the issue isn’t having a lot of sex or orgasms, it’s doing anything compulsively and to excess. I’ve only come three times this year and think that sounds like kind of a lot but still consider myself “addicted” to orgasms. Why use such a loaded, negatively connoted word? Drug addicts, alcohol addicts, nicotine addicts, orgasm addicts. I dunno. Bugs me.

Also, the “sex doesn’t need to be red hot” part. As if the only way it’s red hot is when it’s accompanied by orgasm? And the expectation should be orgasmless sex isn’t red hot? Some of the absolute hottest sex I’ve ever had didn’t involve orgasm. At this point, most of the hottest sex didn’t involve orgasm. At least, not mine.

But the authors of articles don’t always write the headlines. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe it was a clueless editor. Who knows.

Anyway, the notion that a sex can be about exploration of all the sensations that get pushed out of the way for the big, glitzy orgasm at the end is one I fully endorse. That’s, like, my life. Encouraging women and their partners to focus on exploring a slower, more gentle sensation as a means of becoming an expert in her sex is another concept I can advocate with ease.

The author suggests that taking orgasm off the menu is a way to limit pressure on the act of having sex and, by making it less stressful for women, will lead to more sex. Sure, but by slowing down and learning her body I don’t know why orgasm wouldn’t become more likely. The goal of sex is to feel good and connect to our partners. If we feel good by coming, then that’s the goal. If we feel good (after a fashion) by not coming, then that’s OK too. But everyone who enjoys them deserves to come. It’s incumbent upon the partner to learn how to make her happy. And it’s incumbent upon her to let that happen. To not get hung up on societal programming of expectations of her role. I think, ultimately, that’s what the article is about.

But the article isn’t entirely focused on women.

Another of the exercises my partner and I really enjoyed was when he chose (not prompted by me) to take a 30-day challenge where the man agrees not to ejaculate during that time. This is a fascinating one. For me, it was wonderful. He was forced to slow right down and be totally focused on sensation. From my perspective, it stopped feeling as if he was driving and began to feel as if he was surfing. This was another powerful way for us to increase our connection. The man becomes more aware of the woman’s arousal level as he isn’t being carried away by his own – which is often stronger and easier for him to access.

A couple of times in the piece, the author says BDSM practices are “weird” and not necessary to have great sex with a monogamous partner over a long period, so emphasizing “he chose (not prompted by me)” to abstain from ejaculation isn’t surprising. Like, why even mention it at all? Just say it happened. Is the idea that it was her idea so scary?

Other than that, yeah, that’s how it works! I like the surfing vs. driving analogy, but surfing is a little too passive perhaps. Still too focused on what he’s doing for himself. It’s more like playing an instrument, to me. Trying to make music of her pleasure. But I’m a sub and everything I do is or want is colored by that. I wonder if his experiment in orgasm control was only for the month? Did he ever try it again? If it was so good for her, did she dare to suggest they do it again? Maybe a month on, a month off, etc? She doesn’t say. Wouldn’t want people to think she’s into “weird” stuff, I guess.

It’s not a perfect piece, to be sure, but the bones are there and it’s refreshing see the concept of disconnecting sexual pleasure from orgasm getting a mainstream treatment. Wish Belle was home so we could learn more about her clitoris as she sits on my face…

Words aren’t helping

The New York Times this weekend ran a story about an interesting way to divine, as the article’s headline puts it, “How many American men are gay?” The state-by-state social acceptance of homosexuals was cross-referenced against the number of men on Facebook who say they’re interested in men and that was compared to the percentage of Google searches for male gay porn.

First of all, this is fascinating stuff. And it probably does demonstrate the very sad issue of those living in areas where they’re unwelcome due to shallow and outdated ideas of what’s right and wrong. But I do have a fundamental issue with how author of this work perpetuated the myth that human sexuality is a choice between zero and six on the Kinsey scale.

Checking, I see that I haven’t told Facebook what gender I’m interested in. Of course, I’m married and was before Facebook came along and have never had to use it as a facet of my dating life, so why would I? But, were I not married, I wonder what I’d say to it. I’m an ostensibly straight-identified person who has found long-term contentment in a relationship with a woman but am very much interested in men from a sexual perspective. That means my Google history contains some evidence of searches for “gay” porn which would classify me, in the terms of this article, as a closeted gay man. But I’m not. Not even close.

If I’m closeted, it’s as…whatever it is I am. I don’t tell people about my sexual stimulants. It’s just not something that comes up and I’m not the kind of guy to wear such a thing on my sleeve (multi-year explicit sex blog to the contrary). Plus, as I’ve said before, I hate the term “bisexual” and abhor using it as a descriptor for who I am. I am totally open to both genders from a sexual perspective but could never really see myself being able to “settle down” with a man. It always had to be a woman for me. Is that what bisexual means? I don’t think so (and even if I did, I bet I could find a hundred people who disagreed with me). There are a lot of other words out there that try to capture the flexibility of what I am (what I strongly believe all people are to some extent), but I don’t care for any of them. Human sexuality just doesn’t lend itself to tidy classification. The best thing I can think of is still the Kinsey scale. I’m a three with vacillations towards two and four. But even that is only a piece of my sexuality.

As annoying as the Times article is, one from Slate makes me optimistic for the future. In “Does Coming Out Count If You Reject Labels” (yes), we learn that ridiculously scrumptious British Olympic diver Tom Daley recently said he had a boyfriend. Lived with the guy. Felt “so safe” with him but also still found women attractive. Not that he was gay or bi or anything. Just fucking yummy little Tom. Likewise, actress Maria Bello told the world she was in a relationship with a woman after having previously only been with men. Bello dared to say she “would like to consider [herself] a ‘whatever,'” rather than a lesbian or bisexual.

And I’m like…YES. Of course. I totally get that. Before I found Belle, I had been serious with guys from time to time (mostly with one) and that didn’t change who I really was. The biggest issue with me then (and, by extension, my boyfriend) was I had bought into the bullshit paradigm regarding Kinsey zeros and sixes. And it tore me up. It’s remarkably refreshing to see us moving in this post-label direction. When people fuck who they want and reject the adjectives invented by others to categorize and reduce. But, the author in Slate says:

[D]espite the rapid progress on limited issues like marriage, it bears asking whether we are at a point in history where we are advanced enough to dispense with gay solidarity entirely. For better or for worse, the very much unfinished LGBTQ civil rights project involves a certain amount of PR, and every PR campaign needs some buzzwords. Naively imagining that you can remove yourself from that paradigm because gay or bi doesn’t quite fit is a highly privileged act—especially when, as far as I can tell, the only worthwhile thing that can come from a celebrity’s coming out is some small contribution to queer visibility in communities where queer people may not be easily seen beyond the page or screen.

And I say, fuck “gay solidarity.” Why should anyone feel compelled to force themselves into ill-fitting stereotypes? If you’re not fucking gay, don’t call yourself that. If you don’t feel like a bisexual, don’t tell them you are. If that’s not good enough for those at the forefront of the “LGBTQ civil rights project” (holy shit, the “LGBTQ” nonsense shows how stupid all these words are), then screw ’em. Some of us don’t see our sexualities as political statements. Some of us don’t want anything more than the same basic rights and privileges enjoyed by everyone else. Some of us think there is no better way to advocate for that than to show through the living of our lives that we’re no different. And maybe if we’d stop trying to put the multiverse of the human sexual continuum into five or six buckets, we’d be able to see that better.

I’m not a word. I’m a person. Just like Bello and Daley. And just like you.