X’s And O’s

Artist: Sara Andreasson

CW: discusses enthusiastic consent, orgasms and power struggles in relationships

I have never had an orgasm.

This is not – believe me – for lack of trying.

People have different theories on why this is so: my psychologist believes it is childhood trauma, my friends tell me I’m too in my head, and my GP tells me it is likely due to my dyspraxia. It does not really bother me; you can’t miss what you never had. The problem arises when I try to explain it to my sexual partners.

Theoretically, it seems like it should be an easy enough conversation. However, each time I have broached the issue in the past, there has been a perverted joy awakened in my partner. “You’ve never had an orgasm?” they exclaim; already I can see their minds racing to the challenge ahead. They are preparing to ‘save’ me from my previous sexual innocence. They see my condition as a test of their masculinity. Egos surge as they tell themselves that they will be my first. Forget that even I, with my intimate knowledge and patience with my body, have not managed to achieve the task. They, obviously, know me better. One of my partners even got angry at me after a while, accusing me of withholding my orgasm on purpose to “prove a point”.

So I learned to fake it.

It was easier, quicker, and certainly didn’t rob me of my enjoyment. The problem with faking it, however, comes up much later in the relationship; the toll of constantly faking it can be exhausting.

With all this (valuable) discourse around ‘enthusiastic consent’ in our generation, certain discussions are inevitable. The questions from generous lovers are tricky …

“What are your fantasies?”

“What would you like?”

“Did you enjoy that?”

In a world full of selfish males, encouraging selflessness in the bedroom is important. So how can you tell a perfectly nice boy that there is no need to focus on pleasuring you? That he should focus on himself? That your pleasure is derived from proximity, and his desire to bring you to orgasm – while appreciated – is pointless?

Not to mention the fact that, after months of regularly faking orgasms, it is slightly bizarre when you first mention you are aorgasmic. But when is the appropriate time to bring it up? The first time you have sex, when the hormones make most serious conversations impossible? The third time? The 12th?

I don’t have any answers.

On the one hand, it is a very good problem to have: that your partners’ desire for your pleasure is more than you can satisfy. Still, I cannot help but think that it is partly ego-driven, that these men do not desire my orgasm so much as they wish to be its cause.

At least the channels of communication around sex are now open, allowing this topic to be verbalised, even if only anonymously.