Search Results for: Orgasm

The Non-Mysteries of the Female Orgasm

“My initial forays into oral sex were a crutch, a way of compensating for my sexual inadequacies, and they were approached with the assumption that cunnilingus was a poor man’s second to the joys and splendors of ‘real sex’–like many, I took it for granted that intercourse was the ‘right way’ for couples to experience orgasms. But, to my surprise, I discovered that the ‘way of the tongue’ was by no means inferior to intercourse; if anything, it was superior, in many cases the only way in which women were able to receive the persistent, rhythmic stimulation, outside of masturbation, necessary to achieve an orgasm. I quickly learned that oral sex is real sex, and later in life, when I happened to come across a copy of the seminal Hite Report on Female Sexuality, I was reassured to find that women consider oral sex to be ‘one of their most favorite and exciting activities; women mentioned over and over how much they loved it.’ When it comes to pleasure, there is no right or wrong way to have an orgasm–the only thing that’s wrong is to assume that women need or value them any less than men do.”

-From She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, by Ian Kerner, Ph.D.. Read more in the Longreads Archive.


Photo: ranieldiaz, Flickr

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The Future of the Orgasm Industry

Longreads Pick

Nitasha Tiku goes inside the world of OneTaste, a San Francisco company dedicated to the practice of “orgasmic meditation,” or OM:

“I first heard about OneTaste in March, at a breakfast meeting with a venture capitalist who had newly moved to New York from San Francisco. She hadn’t felt compelled to try it herself, but she had a friend who worked at OneTaste, who would OM if she was nervous before a big meeting. They had lingo for the men who’d perfected the craft: ‘Master stroker—that’s what it’s called!’

“Genital stimulation in a professional context seemed transgressive, even for hippie-hedonist San Francisco. Her friend, Joanna Van Vleck—who is now OneTaste’s president—met me in June when she was in New York. ‘We don’t OM, like, right in the office,’ Van Vleck explained. But she said, ‘If we have employee problems, we’re like, let’s OM together. Yeah, if two people have a discrepancy, we say: OM together!'”

Source: Gawker
Published: Oct 18, 2013
Length: 32 minutes (8,147 words)

After Three Children, Reclaiming My Body and My Mind

Illustration by Tiffany Baker

Ukamaka Olisakwe | Longreads | September 2019 | 22 minutes (5,546 words)

Nurse Ruth’s face was set in tense lines of seriousness as she probed my cervix with a metal instrument. I knew this procedure by heart, having been through it five times in the past 17 years: dilate the cervix, measure the uterine cavity, insert the intrauterine device.

But Ruth was frowning. The last time, another nurse said the depth of my uterine cavity was too short. Twelve years ago, after the birth of my third child, I learned that my retroverted uterus had yet to properly settle itself nicely inside my pelvis and that my cervix had partially descended into my vagina.

Now as Ruth brought out the instrument and gazed at the blood smear on the tip, I trained my eyes on the crumple of her brow and tried to decipher what she wasn’t saying. In another life, I would not set my foot within a 10-mile radius of this place. But here I was, 36 and frightened, and I willing her to say something positive; I willed her to say that childbirth hadn’t ruined me that much.

But she didn’t say those words. Instead, she worked until I could no longer endure the discomfort of metal scraping against the soft of my womb. Because my cavity was still so short, Ruth suggested an alternative contraceptive — a progestin implant. She feared my uterus would expel an IUD if she went ahead and inserted it.

True, the last IUD had snapped and poked at my insides all night until the following morning when I found a doctor, who pried open my cervix and got it out. The one before that, my body began to act strangely and I experienced unexplainable vaginal bleeding whenever sex was vigorous.

“I have heard terrible things about the implant,” I told Ruth. “I hear it can reduce me to the biblical woman with the issue of bleeding who was healed by Jesus.” She laughed, despite the seriousness of the moment, but then she had positive and convincing things to say. She invited me to the clinic’s family planning seminar scheduled for that week. She gave me an emergency oral contraceptive for the time being, and we agreed to have the contraceptive inserted into my arm at my next visit.

I smiled and thanked her. Then I cried all the way home, ignoring the curious looks of concerned passersby, some of whom paused, as Nigerians are wont to do, to ask what made me cry.
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Rock Me Gently

Kevin Winter / Getty, Danni Konov / Getty

Soraya Roberts | Longreads | August 2019 |  9 minutes (2,273 words)

I have no reason not to believe Rolling Stone when it calls cover star Harry Styles a “21st century rock star.” He certainly looks like one: shirtless, tattooed, his hair a tousled mess, and a smile that may not say big dick energy but definitely says he knows what to do with it. He could be 1977 cover star Peter Frampton, when he was named “Rock Star of the Year.” There’s even a tagline to the left of Styles’s nipple promising sex and psychedelics. But then you start reading, and the setup begins to break down. Sure, he has a reputation for fucking a lot, but it all sounds very consensual and age-appropriate. He also seems unfailingly polite, not to mention sunny. I mean, he gets sad — his new album is “all about having sex and feeling sad” — but he’s not broody and doesn’t seem like he’d ever trash a hotel. This is a guy who appears to sort his problems out the way therapists tell us to: friendships, meditation, even work. “I feel like the fans have given me an environment to be myself and grow up and create this safe space to learn and make mistakes,” he tells the magazine. He describes himself as vulnerable and loose (the mushrooms and weed can’t hurt). Rolling Stone describes one moment as “rock-star debauchery” but all he did while tripping was bite off the tip of his own tongue — the only person he bled on was himself. As for everyone else, he just wants them to feel loved. “I’m aware that as a white male, I don’t go through the same things as a lot of the people that come to the shows,” he says. “I’m just trying to make people feel included and seen.”

The classic ideal of the rock star — the depraved renegade with infinite hotel bills, addictions, and infidelities — is dead. The charismatic young white man (it was usually a young white man, sometimes several) who rebranded selfishness as revolution has been overthrown, taking with him a part of the individualist, white, patriarchal capitalist system he came from. In his place, new rock stars, sometimes white and male, often not, have sprung up to nurture rather than destroy — instead of shutting us out, they let us in. Read more…

In the Age of the Psychonauts

Frank R. Paul, 1924. Forrest J. Ackerman Collection / CORBIS / Corbis via Getty Images.

Erik Davis | An excerpt adapted from High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies | The MIT Press | 2019 | 35 minutes (9,207 words)

Early in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche’s prophet of the future discovers a tightrope walker preparing to perform in front of a crowd. It is here, crucially, that Zarathustra announces his famous doctrine of the übermensch, the overman, the superhero of the spirit. Humanity, he says, is merely a rope “fastened between animal and Overman,” a rope that passes over the abyss.

Elsewhere Nietzsche describes the spiritual acrobats who can rise to the call of the Overman as “philosophers of the future.” Nondogmatic, often solitary, with a predilection for risky behavior, these radical free thinkers are “curious to a fault, researchers to the point of cruelty, with unmindful fingers for the incomprehensible.” Nietzsche simply calls them those who attempt. Their truths are their own, rather than general facts, and they are “at home in many countries of the spirit, at least as guests.”

Sounds to me like Nietzsche is talking about psychonauts. After all, while we are used to comparing drug visionaries to mystical seekers, from another angle, they more resemble philosophers or mad scientists compelled, beyond reason but with some sense, to put themselves on the line, risking both paranoia and pathology through their anthropotechnics. Read more…

A Woman In Love Is a Woman Alone

Photo by Zach Guinta

Francesca Giacco | Longreads | July 2019 | 16 minutes (4,341 words)

Who isn’t fascinated by desire? Who isn’t drawn to it, frightened by it? Who doesn’t want to know more?

Who we want and how and why is individual and intrinsic. We hold those proclivities close, share them rarely, and often struggle to understand them ourselves.

In Three Women, Lisa Taddeo works to inhabit the very concept of desire ⁠— female desire, in particular. And that work is significant. In reporting and writing this book, she spent eight years chronicling the sex lives of three American women, spending thousands of hours with them. She drove across the country six times, lived in their towns, read their local papers, listened to their neighbors’ conversations, and transformed her life to better understand theirs.

Like Truman Capote and Gay Talese before her, Taddeo immerses herself in her subject matter, writing almost entirely from the perspectives of the three women she’s chosen to follow, making herself known only through stylistic detail and turns of phrase. To write this book, she needed to know everything about these women: their wants, fears, embarrassments, traumas, victories, and disappointments. She required access, and they gave it to her, in the form of memories, correspondence, text messages, emails, diaries, and, in one case, court records.

While this process is rightfully described as a serious and consuming journalistic undertaking, I also see it as a quintessential example of close female friendship. Connection between women can be like that: quick, unquestioning, and without boundaries. We challenge, reassure, and understand each other. We say to one another, here is my whole life. Read more…

My Unsexual Revolution

Illustration by Chloe Cushman

Diane Shipley | Longreads | July 2019 | 17 minutes (4,293 words)

In November 1998, I had sex for the first and last time. I was 19, my boyfriend was 21, and we’d been together for 10 months, long-distance. I was at university in Lancaster, a small town in the north west of England, and he lived in Essex, in the south east. I had a week off from classes, so I spent six hours taking two trains to stay in the sporadically-tidied house he shared with friends from work. On Wednesday morning, I walked to the pharmacy down the street to buy condoms and KY Jelly, shaking slightly as I handed over the cash. That night, with Ally McBeal on TV in the background, we lay on his narrow twin bed, kissing and touching each other before we slipped under the covers. I worried it might hurt, or feel awkward, or be over quickly, but it was great. Afterward, we ate chocolates, drank Coke, and swore we’d have sex all the time from then on.

We tried. Later that night; the next day; a couple of months later, on vacation in Florida. Each time, it was as if my vagina had snapped shut and no matter how hard he pushed or how vividly I pictured a tulip’s petals unfurling, nothing could convince it to open. Eventually, we gave up and went back to the heavy petting and blowjobs we’d each enjoyed, respectively, before. We were best friends, we were in love, we both had orgasms. In theory, I knew that penis-in-vagina intercourse wasn’t the only way to define sex. But it seemed like the most important, and I felt like a failure for not being a “proper” girlfriend; for being unfuckable.
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The 19th Century Lesbian Made for 21st Century Consumption

Jay Brooks, HBO / document courtesy of the Pforzheimer Collection at the New York Public Library

Jeanna Kadlec | Longreads | June 2019 | 12 minutes (3,114 words)

When we call Anne Lister, the 19th century British diarist and adventurer reimagined in HBO’s hit series Gentleman Jack, the “first modern lesbian,” what do we mean, precisely? Critics don’t seem to know. The catchy tagline coined by Lister’s devotees and perpetuated by the show’s marketing is good branding, but makes for a slightly confusing moniker: what is it, exactly, that makes Anne Lister a “modern” lesbian, let alone the first?

The answer goes beyond a casual Wikipedia-esque list of Lister’s propensities and accomplishments that most coverage of the show has thus far relied on. To understand what makes Anne Lister unique, you have to understand how lesbianism and identity were understood in the 1830s — and it’s far too simplistic to say that women with women was simply “unimaginable” for the time, that Lister was completely solitary in her pursuit of as public a commitment as would have been socially acceptable.

Lesbian content was not unfamiliar to 17th, 18th, and 19th century audiences. From lesbian eroticism in pornographic texts such as the psuedonymous Abbé du Prat’s The Venus in the Cloister: or, the Nun in Her Smock, published in 1683, to the trope of a “Female Husband” (which had historical grounding in famous figures like Mary Hamilton) to the romantic friendship of Ladies of Llangollen, who were contemporaries of Lister’s, the idea of women loving (and fucking) women was hardly new, if deeply socially unacceptable. Among women of the upper class with means, Lister was hardly alone in forging her own kind of life. The “first”? No.

Lister was ahead of her time, but not in the obvious way: not because of her desire, or even her willingness to throw off norms. Rather, her desire to live what we would identify as an “out” life (or, as “out” a life as possible) was informed by a distinctly Enlightenment-informed conception of her individuality and her psychosexual identity that would have been more at home in 2019 than 1839. In Lister’s time, lesbian wasn’t the distinct identity category it would later become. Lister’s prescient insistence on a cohesion between her public and private personas — an insistence on her sexuality as a vital component of her identity — was remarkable. Thanks to her diaries, we also have unprecedented access to how she herself thought of her identity and sexuality, as well as an explicit record of sexual activity. Ultimately, this means that Lister is a historical figure made for 21st century consumption, onto whose life we can easily project (if anachronistically) ideas like that of the closet and the difficulty of living an “out” life in Regency England.
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What I Learned From Doing Amateur Porn

Illustration by Homestead

Nancy Jainchill | Longreads | April 2019 | 22 minutes (5,383 words)


“Peter, I can’t do this.” I grabbed my boyfriend by the arm.

The crew with whom we were making a porn movie had just arrived, their footsteps like drum beats as they made their way upstairs to our second floor flat. I stared at the doorway. Didn’t they realize they had the wrong house? I must’ve been crazy to say yes. Their footsteps continued. Maneuvering past me, their tripods were like hulking robots, their metal legs clattering along the wooden floor. Peter stood nearby, lit a joint, and turned to me. “Where’s Charley?”

Of course he was concerned about our dog.


My star turn began in a Berkeley flat on a summer morning in 1970. As our kitchen was heating up from the sun, Peter stripped off his flannel shirt, rubbed his hands up and down on his chest, and pointed to a classified ad, “Bus boy wanted. Starts immediately.” He took a sip of coffee.

Okay, he was right. We were short on rent money, and Peter solved problems. Except Peter wasn’t bus boy material. No way that would be happening. His mother had served him dinner in front of the TV every night until he left for college, and he didn’t do dishes. Sitting down next to him, I leaned over to see what he was reading.

Balancing his cigarette on our kitchen table’s edge — one of those fifties-era Formica tables, mottled red and white with a metal rim that couldn’t burn — he flattened the paper out with both hands. “Wow. Nancy, look at this. Become a porn star overnight.” He tapped his pen on the ad, and circled it.

I sputtered on a sip of coffee. “Are you kidding me?”

Peter’s voice quickened as he read. “Listen. ‘Having trouble paying your bills? Enjoy yourself while you earn your way out of debt.’” He shoved the paper at me. “Why not? We’re short on rent money. This looks easy.” He wasn’t joking.

After scanning the ad, which offered cash for taking off my clothes, I got up and walked to the window. While I wanted to make Peter happy, this hadn’t been part of the plan. Not for me. It wasn’t that long ago that I never took off my coat. Summer or winter, my coat stayed on. I had the idea that my body wasn’t good enough, so I kept it hidden.

“C’mon Nance.” He gave my butt a light slap.

He knew I’d give in. When was the last time I’d said “no” to Peter?

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A Woman’s Work: The Inside Story

All artwork by Carolita Johnson.

Carolita Johnson | Longreads | April 2019 | 23 minutes (5,178 words)

The subject of my pre-doctoral studies was medieval nuns and their relationship to their menstrual cycles. Long story short: my theory was that this relationship was determined by the very real divide between the early Christians who favored either the Old Testament or the New Testament on the inherent “sinfulness” or absence thereof of the human body. The traditional, Old Testament attitude that menstruation made women “unclean” somehow prevailed. Fancy that. Call me crazy, but I had to believe that the way the Church, the Patriarchy, and all of society saw women’s bodily functions had an effect on women’s relationships with their bodies.

Stories of menstruating women ruining mirrors they looked into, or causing soufflés to fall, causing farm animals to miscarry, mayonnaise to “not take,” etc., and menstrual blood used as an ingredient in cures for leprosy or magic potions, were common. But even if they were all but forgotten by modern times, they merge easily into my being taught, in the 1980s, to call my period “The Curse.”

I’d noticed, in many hagiographies, that one of the first signs a woman might be a saint, besides experiencing ecstatic “visions,” was that she’d barely, if at all, need to eat or drink anymore, and her various bodily secretions would cease. I wondered if nuns might be using herbs, self-starvation, and/or physical exertion to put an end to their secretions, amongst which, their periods.

Compare this to how, in modern times, many women, including myself, would use The Pill without the classic 7-day pause in dosage to skip an inconveniently timed period. This pause was designed to give women on the Pill a “period” that was more symbolic than functional, almost more of a superstition, and totally unnecessary, medically speaking. Recent years have even seen the introduction of contraceptive pills actually designed to limit a woman to 0-4 periods a year — hormonally inducing amenorrhea, or absence of menstruation. There are times when women want to avoid having their periods, for example, during vacations, sports events (with the notable exception of Kiran Ganhi), honeymoons; in other words, times when we want to be at our best and free of physical impairments or, let’s be frank: free from the anxiety of being discovered menstruating. Some of us opt to be free from that anxiety year-round now. I think medieval nuns would have loved to have that option.

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