Pleasure, Penetration, & the Patriarchy

I remember the first time I felt the cliché heteronormative disparity after sex. I was 17 or 18, in sort of upstate New York, visiting my then (first) boyfriend in the house he shared with his NFL loving roommates. As I sat on the toilet, trying to expel the hell out of his cum making itself at home inside me, I realized that our (still quite wonderful) sex that night – and quite often – had been all about his pleasure and his pleasure only.

At the time though, I hadn’t yet embraced the idea that I even deserved physical pleasure from partners and so, I felt completely satisfied and content, or what I knew of then as satisfaction. Cut to me at 20 years old thinking I was oh-so-smart for not letting my then fuck-boyfriend go down on me because he was kind of a jerk and I wanted to deny him the pleasure of eating my pussy, never once thinking about the fact that I might enjoy it too. On top of not associating female sexuality with anything more than being there for the man because honey, we didn’t talk about these things in the late 90’s, when I first started having it I learned very quickly that an orgasm from penetration would never be my friend. So I let that notion fly far away, along with any chance that I would associate penetrative sex with female physical pleasure.

Movies and television taught me that sex between a man and woman usually involved him on top of her, always under the covers; they would thrust a few times, he’d cum, and then roll off of her with a look on his face that seemed to suggest both smug satisfaction and misogynistic resentment at her for making him work so hard to get there in the first place. Then one or both of them would get up and rush off somewhere, either back to their unknowing wife or husband or to their very-busy-and-important professional lives. Clothes would get slapped back on hurriedly as if he was fine keeping his dick wrapped in an unseen used condom inside his skivvies all day long or, in the absence of protection. She was fine with his man-goop leaking out of her while she went to work and sat in another board meeting while her coworkers called her “Toots” and suggested she fetch them coffee, even though she was a senior partner, just like them.

I mean, ok yes, sometimes there is something fun about the secret naughtiness of it, but the idea that every woman out there enjoys cum dripping down her leg while she’s talking to her boss about the budget is something that Hollywood needs to get the fuck over already.

Those early days of sex for me in that first relationship were ridiculously formative. Penetrative sex became something that I craved because I wanted the satisfaction of giving him satisfaction. Seeing or feeling jizz was the goal. Without realizing that my inner submissive was slowly starting to grow, doing the deed and getting him off became what sex meant to me. After breaking up with that first boyfriend, I went through a pretty good streak of drunken college one-night stands and that goal was always on my mind when meeting potential suitors at yet another college bar.

While I wasn’t searching for love and replacing it was sex, sex was still very much wrapped up in whatever insecurities I had about my self & body images at the time (two separate things to me, personally.) If I got a guy in bed – or let’s face it, on the playground after midnight, or in the park under the old oak tree – working his cock to cumpletion made me feel as though I was valuable, as though I could assign self-worth to how many grunts he expressed while exploding. It filled me with a strange satisfaction and I became very connected to that feeling of inner “pride” without realizing, of course, that it would in later years speak very much to my “good girl” side, as in “What a good girl you are for making Daddy come.”

This combination of both not admitting to myself early on that sex could be about physical pleasure for me / (cis) women too, combined with the emotional pleasure and satisfaction I would get out of partners’ orgasms has contributed to years and years of stripping my clothes off quickly and saying with gusto “let’s DO this”, especially in my marital bed. Sex would be about intimacy and reconnection, sure, but it would most often end with him finishing and a switch shutting off in my brain that told me I was no longer in the mood and was just as satisfied as he was. Because, emotionally, I actually was – and still am when it happens.

I realize that conversations about female pleasure have been going on for a long time; I’ve even coached people traveling their own sexual journeys about this stuff, but there has often been an internal disconnect between the feminist I was turning into and the girl who just wanted to do good, but didn’t quite realize that being a good girl could also include my own pleasure. Thankfully though, over the years, I’ve learned quite a few valuable lessons that have helped expand my view of sex and (cis) female sexuality and also what I deserve as a sexual being, separated from my partners, their views on me, or our relationship dynamics:

  1. Dating multiple men who didn’t always climax from sex (whether penetrative or other) taught me to appreciate all of the other things that can make moments intimate and fulfilling. When that goal that I was so attached to became often unreachable I was forced to look at sex differently and it opened my eyes.
  2. I’ve gotten over not all, but a lot of my stage fright and embarrassment that came along with not being a short orgasmer. Years of good submissive sex have also helped me to realize that any partner that tells me to masturbate wants to watch it and that wasting time feeling insecure about it is silly. I trust I’m a good judge of character and that I don’t have liars in bed with me. These are smart people who genuinely think I’m sexy and want to see the things my body and I can do.
  3. I’ve recovered from a foursome where, years ago, the other woman basically said I was looking for attention when I was trying so hard to come but taking forever, while they were all “done” and patiently waiting for me. This actually stuck with me as a moment of high shame for many years.
  4. I finally can come – if I want to – during penetrative sex. You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to finally touch myself while being fucked, resulting in a shorter journey and a much more intense clitoral orgasm than any I could get to on my own. The idea that (penetrative) sex might mean that I could also feel orgasmic pleasure in addition to the intense emotional satisfaction it brings me is honestly a feeling I experienced far too late in life.
  5. I have fantastic partners now. THIS HELPS. Being with people who, not only turn me on (I used to think this was enough somehow?), but also touch me and fuck me in the right ways means that actually, I do feel pleasure from penetration nowadays. Whether it’s feeling closer than ever before to a g-spot orgasm or simply enjoying the physical sensation of rocking back and forth, I’ve learned to find pleasure in so many more sources.

There are plenty of occasions when I am comfortable AF still having sex be over when the jizz has landed but I feel like now I am making an informed and feminist choice about it. The auto-shut down that used to happen when I would believe that a male climax meant it was time for sleep or the next activity no longer rules my actions. Sure, sometimes I just want the D inside me until he explodes and other times, well, I want to explore the rest of the menu and satisfy other cravings that I denied myself for far too long.