“Can you feel me inside you?” he screamed repeatedly, shortly after puncturing my hymen.
“Yes, I can!” I said more than once, wondering if I should answer every time he asked.
I liked having his dick inside me, but not because it felt good. I was just relieved to lose my virginity—finally, at 19—so I could join my girlfriends in gossiping about sex.
Since I went through puberty extremely late—as in, tormented-by-the-possibility-that-I-might-have-a-genetic-disorder late—I spent a solid portion of my high school years growing disconnected from my female peers. They were all genuinely obsessed with boys—namely, experimenting with boys in basements and the backseats of SUVs, and then chatting about it ad nauseum, before and after school and in between classes. With zero to contribute to the ongoing conversation, I felt like an outcast whenever the dialogue turned towards fingering or feeling or spitting versus swallowing.
For a long time, I folded into myself. I didn’t date boys or hook up with boys or fantasize about them—until, at age 16-and-a-half, I discovered the bloody glob in my underwear that promised womanhood. Grateful to Mother Nature for the gift of the monthly curse and the accompanying hormones, I set out to do womanly things. At the time, what that meant to me was fooling around with boys.
With so much catching up to do, I embraced the task of getting naked with relative strangers as eagerly as an overachiever approaches studying for a big exam.
Hooking up was a carnival game I played relentlessly, in which I was always guaranteed to win a giant stuffed animal in the form of one precious nugget of sexual knowledge. Each new sex act—from making out at a concert to getting eaten out in a sauna to giving my first blowjob (and noting how much more sucking was involved than blowing)—provided a sense of accomplishment.
As the months passed, I racked up male conquests, checking off all the standard sexual bucket list items an adolescent must if she wants to talk honestly with friends about erect penises, oral, and, eventually, intercourse.
But at 19, a college sophomore and no longer a virgin, I had yet to orgasm. Not once. Not while any of my classmates slurped my vulva in search of my clitoris. Not while any of them fucked me doggy style or as I bounced up and down on them in the “reverse cowgirl” position atop a dilapidated couch in an abandoned common room. And certainly not while I dry humped the below-average looking RA to avoid getting written up for alcohol consumption.
I was aroused during most sexual encounters, but I was never ever fully satisfied.
Still, I was a determined young woman, and relatively open-minded. So I continued to try new things—anything that was asked of me or suggested, really. I massaged men’s testicles methodically and rubbed their “taints.” I mouthed the tips of cocks (some slightly curved, some short and stout, some long and thin), and stuck my finger in a few assholes. I gave way more blowjobs than someone who’s never orgasmed ever should. I made a lot of men orgasm, and I learned how to fake an orgasm believably to spare the men who actually seemed to care about my sexual pleasure from feeling an ounce of guilt or shame.
But none of it led to climax—for me, that is.
Desperate to experience mind-blowing sex—the kind that inspires timeless songs and breathtaking art and brutal warfare—I grew more and more frustrated as time went on. The energy and effort I’d put into broadening my sexual horizons didn’t seem to be paying off. Sure, my exploits afforded me plenty of fodder for story time with girlfriends, but I had yet to experience the kind of sensual pleasure I knew my mind and body were capable of.
I wanted more.
It was shortly after my twentieth birthday that it hit me: Men might not be the answer. No, I wasn’t suddenly ready to lick pussy and identify as lesbian or bisexual. I was, however, prepared to take responsibility for my own sexual pleasure—to take matters into my own hands, literally, instead of relying on the opposite sex.
Mission Make Myself Orgasm required swearing off hookups with men temporarily. It also demanded commitment to a rigorous masturbation schedule.
Armed with a few packets of lubricant that had caught my eye at the checkout counter of the corner store, I felt good about my plan. For whatever reason, it didn’t occur to me to buy a vibrator, but I had an electric toothbrush and a hairbrush with an awesomely phallic handle, both begging to be repurposed.
Three days into my very personal sexual journey, I was reclining on the top bunk in my dorm room around 3pm while my roommate was in Pscyh-101 across campus. After just a few minutes, an unmistakable sensation began brewing in my groin.
Keep doing what your doing, I coached myself.
Careful not to lose my finger’s grip on my clitoris, I continued the tiny circular motion that seemed so effective. The toothbrush I’d recently discarded in favor of hand-on-clit stimulation buzzed next to me from within the folds of my duvet, but I refused to pause and turn it off. Instead, I welcomed the faint humming sound and listened to my body, granting the sensation within the room it needed to grow.
I let go.
My hips began gyrating, at first slowly, then maniacally. With my free hand, I massaged my breasts and pinched my nipples as I squirmed about, digging my heels into the mattress.
I could feel it coming: The tingling, the warmth, the overwhelming awareness that I was falling or floating or torpedoing through the air without a care, certain that I would land safely, enveloped in a moist, impossibly tender cloud that was all my own. There weren’t any words to articulate what I felt, exactly.
After mastering the art of solo sex, I approached random hookups with more confidence and enthusiasm about the potential payoff. Sure enough, messing around with men proved a hell of a lot more rewarding once I understood my body. It didn’t take long for me to orgasm through intercourse, and to figure out a bunch of other stuff that works (and doesn’t work) for me in bed.
Now, when a man is inside me, I know what to do and I always orgasm at least once. But I certainly don’t need a man to get there, and I take full credit for my own sexual awakening.