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Stop outsourcing your orgasms to technology

vibrator1Young women are too lazy to masturbate. Not only are they attached to electronic devices that allow them to stay connected 24/7, they are way too over-reliant on vibrators to have an orgasm, writes Silkstone.

I’m scanning The Daily Beast when the title The 30 Year Old Orgasm Virgin catches my eye.  Curious about other people's "erotic-neurotic" memoirs since writing my own, I kicked off my cyber-shoes and settled in for an intriguing read.

It turns out to be the tale of two orgasm virgins:  A sort of "When Maura met Mara" story (but not in that fake woman-on-woman porn kind of way).  Instead, Daily Beast blogger Maura Kelly uses the excuse of critiquing the book, Thanks for Coming: One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm by Mara Altman, in order to confess her own late-in-life discovery of sexual pleasure.  

As a book review, it’s a quickie: A mere 4 paragraphs are devoted to raking Mara-the-writer over the coals for such sins as waiting until page 240 (of 377) to finally purchase a vibrator and experience the big O, an event that Maura-the-critic cleverly calls “anti-climactic” by the time it arrives. 

She finishes off Altman thusly:  “Were she a particularly funny or talented writer, she might have pulled off being a tease for so long, but I lost my readerly erection by about page four.”  Ouch.  Damn, baby, I thought I made you feel good in bed!

With her writerly competition thus beaten off, Maura proceeds to the real point of her blog post:  Telling the rather odd tale of her own “awakening” in her late 20’s, one accompanied not by fantasies of George Clooney or some other stud-du-jour, but memories of her dead mother. 

This revelation, which is actually rather moving in Kelly’s writerly hands, is nevertheless preceded by a description of men’s “Spank Banks” of masturbatory fantasies that sounds as if she read about them in an anthropology textbook rather than ever having had a sexual fantasy of her own. 

So far, her tone in reviewing Altman’s book has been both “more fucked up than thou” and “more healed than thou,” but as she goes on, her naïve-sounding statements begin to tilt her in one direction more than the other.

And who does Maura blame her own late-blooming orgasm on?  Why, her Irish immigrant father and the guilt induced by her Catholic upbringing. In other words, the usual suspects.  To paraphrase Maura herself, Pardon me if I lose my bloggerly erection reading that. 

(What was it she said about Altman?  Oh yes:  “…her personal story isn’t especially compelling—she doesn’t delve in a meaningful way into the existing literature, scientific or otherwise, nor does she have very interesting insights.”)

But wait! It turns out that her doppelganger Mara actually has the opposite story: Her parents were Berkeley hippies who were so open about sex, she rebelled not by avoiding it (she lost her virginity as a high school senior) but by not seeking self-pleasure.   

Now I haven’t read Altman’s allegedly boring book like Kelly has, but just at first blush, I find that story potentially more interesting, if disturbing: Clearly if you have children, you can fuck them up by what you encourage them to do as much as by what you forbid them to do.  (Damn, that sounds like fun – why didn’t I ever get around to having kids?)

Me, I had an upbringing similar to Maura’s:  Raised by a guilt-inducing Irish Catholic mother who was sex-phobic and then further screwing the pooch for myself as a teenager by becoming a Christian Fundamentalist and sucking up doctrine that considered even passionate kissing a sin outside of marriage. 

As a result, like Maura, I waited to have sex until I was well into my 20s.

But I didn’t wait to have an orgasm.

And therein lies the rub:  It’s not that these women stayed virgins, or even that they tried to make themselves come but couldn’t.

It’s that they didn’t even try until their late 20s. And when they finally did … they went straight to the vibrator.

Not so strange, you say?  f course, millions of women happily use vibrators. What’s strange is that Maura makes it clear that no other option was even considered.

In fact, she seems to believe that, unlike men, all women require some form of outside help in order to have an orgasm.  To quote her blog posting: 

 Altman, a former Village Voice staff writer, had “always hoped some man would hit a bull’s eye and save me the trouble of exploring myself.” I know plenty of women who have felt the same way. Perhaps this expectation is another iteration of traditional gender roles; maybe it comes of the belief that men are more sexually experienced.

But that’s not because they’re particularly sexually talented as a gender, but rather because the mechanics of male masturbation are so much simpler. Dudes don’t need electronic devices purchased at stores with names like Good Vibrations, books with names like Sex for One, or DVDs called Viva la Vulva [my emphasis]. 

Uh, dude?  Neither do women. You have a number of other possibilities at your disposal. Two of them typed this article.

Now trust me, I’ve spent my share of time explaining things like records you have to turn over to hear the rest of the music, or having to be in front of a TV at a set time in order to catch a particular show, or that people once lived quite happily without being in constant electronic contact with everyone they’ve ever met in their lives.

I’m aware that times have changed since I was a young woman, and people who are significantly younger than me have come to depend on a lot of devices that make their lives easier, to the point that they think of them not only as necessities but as eternal truths that have always existed.

But outsourcing your own orgasm?  

Thinking the only way a woman can get off is to turn on a battery-powered device?  

Never ONCE in your life having reached your delicate little texting fingers down between your legs and, well, typed out a few instant messages to yourself?

I can’t imagine it.

I know manual labor is out of style, but is this generation literally that lazy?

Bartender, a round of Betty Dodsons for the house, stat!

I had arguably the same sex-phobic childhood that Kelly did, and back in an era (the 1960s) when there were no alternative sources of sexual information like the internet, explicit TV shows or Judy Blume books. 

Hell, we barely had sex ed, and it certainly didn’t cover the topic of masturbation. And it was not something we girls talked about with our friends, as Kelly and Altman both say they did. We were out there alone like Edison trying to invent the lightbulb.

Yet despite all this, I was only 11 years old when I had my first orgasm. And it didn’t take a vibrator. Just a bike. There followed all kinds of explorations and achievements, ones that weren’t recognized by badges from my Girl Scout troop, but certainly helped me be “Considerate and caring, Courageous and strong, and Responsible for what I say and do.”

In fact, I was such a responsible girl that I took it upon myself to find out all the ways I could make myself have an orgasm. I also didn’t think that our Girl Scout motto, “Be Prepared” meant to stock up on Duracells for a dildo, but to be aware of any chance I had to give myself some brownie points.

But it seems girls aren't taught to be self-sufficient or resourceful any more. Not to mention they must not feel even a fraction of the sexual desire I felt in my teens and 20s. If I hadn't taken matters into my own hands as an adolescent, I would have proved that spontaneous human combustion is no myth.

Honestly, what I felt at the end of Kelly’s blog was sad. Damned sad. So I say to her, Altman and all the young women like them:

Come on, girls.  Give it a good, old-fashioned try.  You might be surprised to find out what a really great lover you can be.

Silkstone is the nom de blog for a writer in the San Francisco Bay Area who's fascinated by movies, relationships, sex and "Mad Men" (not necessarily in that order). She writes frequently about those topics here.  She's completing an "erotic neurotic" memoir about her quest to find love through any means necessary, from becoming a Christian Fundamentalist to dating hundreds of men through the personal ads. You can email her at silkstone50 [at] yahoo [dotcom].


0 #7 Skye 2010-04-07 13:10
I agree. I started masturbating early, using my fingers, and can't understand why other women never gave it a go. I think it is important to be able to reach orgasm manually, although vibrators and other toys can add a bit of fun. I'm mainly a manual girl myself though.

I don't think it's wrong, I just thing its sad that we live in a society where men are openly told (through movies, magazines, the internet and friends) that masturbation is wonderful and everyone does; yet young women are lead to believe that nobody else does it. I didn't talk to my friends about it because I thought I was the only girl that did it often in my school.

I love my fingers :-)
0 #6 Vibrators 2010-03-19 06:05
Well i love my [http://www.bon]vibr ator and im not lazy!!!
0 #5 Lina Medina 2010-03-18 11:38
P.P.S. Betty Dodson is not and has never been against manual masturbation. If you took a few minutes to take a look at her excellent website,, more specifically "First Time Orgasm",, you will see that Betty advocates and educates about both manual stimulation and vibrator-assist ed stimulation.
0 #4 Lina Medina 2010-03-18 11:29
P.S. Does it bother you that generations of human beings have never manually: toasted their own bread; laundered their own clothes using a washboard; baked their own bread over an open fire; sewn their own garments by hand; hunted their own meat; (etc.)? Does my toast taste worse and is it worth less, is it less nutritious because it was made in a toaster? Is my laundry less clean because it was done in a washing machine? An orgasm is an orgasm - who cares whether it was experienced with the help of your own hand(s), a battery-powered or electric device, or the hand(s)/parts of another?! To quote Betty Dodson herself: There's no such thing as a bad orgasm. (Nor a wrong orgasm.) YOU, with your campaign of judgment, guilt and shame, are wrong.
0 #3 Lina Medina 2010-03-18 11:18
Silkstone, shame on you. You are plainly sexist and aggressively anti-feminist. Men are neither the STANDARD nor the NORM, and we as women DO NOT and SHOULD NOT (have to or need to) define ourselves in reaction, comparison or opposition to male behavior and male values. Your ignorant statements assume and maintain Woman in the position of the "Other", the "Second Sex". Why don't MEN masturbate like WOMEN? Why are they not more creative, more sensual, include more variety, experimentation and playfulness into their masturbation practice, slow down and also incorporate toys? It would never occur to you ask this question, because you automatically use the MALE way as the measure for the RIGHT way. Enjoy the rest of your unexamined life and your patriarchy-conf ormist orgasms - but fuck you, don't you dare tell me or my sisters what to do, how to do it, or that what we are doing is wrong merely because it is different from what men do.
0 #2 Dan 2010-03-18 00:48
Who are you to dictate how another woman gets herself off? Who are you to make other women feel deficient because they choose to use something other than the tools nature blessed them with? Because that's exactly what this article is doing. Bra-freaking-vo .
0 #1 Louise 2010-03-17 18:58
So, are e-mails lazy too? WHY DON'T PEOPLE WRITE LETTERS ANYMORE?? maybe because an e-mail is quicker and won't cramp your hand as much as penning a letter on paper. see what analogy i'm trying to make here? an orgasm is an orgasm...and any lady who enjoys giving herself one is most certainly not lazy, no matter how she chooses to come.

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