The Big O-Gap

No, I’m not talking about the ozone layer. I’m talking about the more important Big-O, that elusive orgasm that is damn near impossible to achieve. 

I could write a dissertation on hookup culture at Bates, but in short, it’s toxic. I have had few sexual partners compared to the average pop-culture female icon. Even from those few partners, I have realized that their expectations for me starkly contrast the ones I have for them. As a straight woman having little to no sexual or romantic experience before college, I believed it was my job to make sure my partner achieved the almighty and euphoric orgasm. However, I thought it was normal for me to perform oral sex daily until I got lockjaw, use my hands in fascinating ways until my wrist nearly snapped and contort my body in a way that looked easy and sexy but was incredibly hard to maintain. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) As you can probably tell, I have no shame when discussing sex.

I believe that if sex was less stigmatized and slut-shaming culture died out, then access to healthy sexual or romantic relationships would increase. Sex is a natural part of life, just as having a few hookups is central to growing up for many individuals, including me. Before meeting some of my closest friends here at Bates, I never talked about sex. I had no idea what to expect from my first one-night stand or a prolonged hookup partner. Of course, I had visions of what I should do, but after opening myself up to these conversations, I understood that some of my experiences were coercive in nature and one-sided. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to have that Big-O experience. You know, the one that has you seeing stars and believing in a higher power. During my interactions, prolonged over weeks, hours or a handful of minutes, I was conditioned to think that it was my job to please my partner as the woman in the dorm room. I never spoke up and asked for what I wanted, despite the begging and pleading from the opposite party. There is a fine line between asking through healthy conversations and an instant begging. It makes me uncomfortable when men do this. When they asked me to get them to the Big-O, I thought, “Well, what can I say to that?” On the other hand, I did not know how to ask for the same, and it was never offered.

Although sex should not be a transaction of goods, why is it the norm that I provide my services and men think it is unsettling to do the same? I once thought it was typical for my partners not to reciprocate my actions for them. Even if these men were kind to me, called me hot and sexy and held me when all was said and done, things ended when they were satisfied, and my wants and needs were neglected. After they left me or I left them, I had to do the job for myself. (Again, Mom and Dad, I am so sorry.)

The problem here is that our patriarchal society has conditioned me and many other women to believe that what we need or want takes a back seat to what men want. As a result, our bodies are used and bruised with and without consent. When I work so hard to get the male validation I need to feel loved and beautiful and I’m not given the same respect in return, it’s a microcosm of the cycle of women being treated as second-class citizens.

This past summer, I was in a relationship with a man who, at the time, I believed to be healthy and fun. However, after looking back on that experience, I have reflected on unacceptable things that were done to me, sometimes without my permission. I was a virgin before this summer. I had never even taken my top off with a man. When somebody I trusted asked me if I could take my bra off, I agreed. I was terrified and nervous but did not know how to say, “Let’s slow down.” Sadly, all of my interactions have these underlying themes. The begging and persistent pleading was all I could hear.

Here’s something about me: I am an incredibly insecure person. Like Cassie in “Euphoria,” I am addicted to male validation, rather than relying on my own perception of my body. So, when I heard that he thought I was beautiful and sexy, my own comfort levels were placed on the back burner because I felt that I needed for my own self-worth to be verified more. I was drunk and high, and although I did consent, I was scared of what had happened when I woke up the following day. (Shit, did he think I was a slut because I took my clothes off? Do I think I am a whore? Why am I freaking out? Is this normal?)

Soon after the first night, I began to have different kinds of sex with this person, all firsts for me when the time came. I was okay with everything at first, but I became more uncomfortable as things progressed. I would wake up with bruises from kisses in places only we could see. He told me he loved seeing my bare body so much that me, being the passive, scared of conflict people-pleasing person we both knew I was, allowed these things to continue. He would kiss me goodbye and then follow up with begs and pleads to come over later. I would pretend to enjoy what I was doing when in fact, all I became was exhausted.

All I can do now is laugh; I gave this boy my body, heart and soul — willingly and not so willingly — only to have all three broken. But I didn’t really want to — I just didn’t know how to say “No” to his persistent efforts to get me in bed.

I spent every day pleasing him. I let him use my body for his own pleasure, and I can count on a single hand how many times he did the same for my own satisfaction. This is a running theme in all of my sexual interactions. I worked my ass off — literally — to make sure my partner was enjoying himself while expecting nothing in return. I thought that it was customary.

Now that I’m six months older, I have begun to see my friends in healthy hookups and relationships. They should not be “take and take,” but rather a give and give. A balance between both sides of the scale. Although it might seem more complicated for someone with a vagina to achieve the Big-O biologically, I wonder how many people are deprived of that experience because their partners do not feel inclined to reciprocate.