I ‘m looking at Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow, a 1923 painting by Georgia O’Keeffe. This painting—the lines delineated to make the throbbing lavender folds look three-dimensional—is one that always makes me cross my legs. Perhaps O’Keeffe was simply following the brush strokes of a flower. Or, perhaps the intentions were more erotic than that. Perhaps she wanted us to see the breathtaking beauty in female anatomy; the capabilities of the flowers blooming inside of us.
In 1941, O’Keeffe painted Black Hills with Cedar. I see beautiful feminine legs, bent and open. Twin hills rise breast-like above a fertile cleavage. Most exquisitely, I see nature. I see the blood dirt mountains and valleys and cedar berries. Nature’s structure and process, motivated by the imaginative capabilities of the female form. I imagine O’Keeffe with her set of oils, falling into the dark valleys of her own world.
It’s been nearly one hundred years since O’Keeffe beckoned the fire within her hands and heart to create these beautiful, natural paintings. The female body is beautiful and artistic and natural and parallel with what grows around us—a safe place to hide and fulfill our innermost fantasies and daydreams. Nature, what women are given, is pleasurable. We are meant to be in touch with these feelings and vibrations. They’re beautiful to watch and observe. So why is it SO DAMN HARD TO TALK ABOUT THEM? That’s right! I’m talking about orgasms!
What’s the core reason I want to discuss this? For our health. We should be talking about them more so we are comfortable talking about them more. Being vocal about sex is hard and weird and awkward and I get it. I’m sweating writing this. However, I really do think there’s a strong space we can discuss what feels good for our bodies. (Writer’s Note: I don’t want to force-feed anyone into talking about something they like to keep personal. I’m simply suggesting that being open about how you’re feeling sexually can be a huge win-win.)
I’ll be honest, this article was a little difficult for me to write. What happens down there is personal. It’s raw. It’s exquisite. I’m afraid writing this will make people think I overshare, or that I’m slutty and off course as a lady. Orgasms happen in the company of those we deeply, deeply trust (this includes ourselves). And they seem like that’s where they should be tucked away. On the flip side, I think things that are hard to write are important—so here I am.
I shouldn’t be nervous to write this. And in the very safe space of online friendships, I’ve discovered talking candidly about the big “O” is actually very empowering and natural. You don’t have to go to the grocery store and scream, “Birth control takes away my sex drive!!” or “I can orgasm standing up!” in the middle of Aisle 7. I’m saying it might be helpful (for all of us) to sit down with a few girlfriends we trust and tell them what works and what doesn’t down there. Or, you know, talk about personal lady pleasures all over the Internet!
I tried googling why orgasms are so weird to discuss. Why is the woman orgasm so private? And more importantly, why aren’t women talking more about them? But, nothing helpful came up. Google simply seemed to think women have a problem with pleasure. It spit out a search engine feed of: Women Who Don’t Orgasm, Why So Many Women Don’t Have Orgasms?, The Truth About Female Orgasms, Why Is It Harder For Women to Orgasm Than It Is for Men?
I could write a long laundry list covering why talking about the woman’s orgasm may be such a private practice. That Google search is the first problem. Women have always been perceived as “difficult recipients to pleasure.” In fact, people actually have believed for a long time that women don’t like sex as much as men. Hmmm, where do I begin? Firstly, the normative definition of sex isn’t the ideal for women’s orgasms in general (we’ve all seen some softcore porn, and things aren’t cookin’ for the ladies on those segments). Secondly, women have spent a majority of their existence being polite, keeping emotions to themselves, and are discouraged from asking for what they want. Well, ding ding ding. That explains why my pits feel like tiny swamp pools if I type the word “orgasm” too many times.
As the old story goes, women are believed to be “not that into sex.” In the daily motion of life, orgasms just seem like one of those things women should keep to themselves. A woman’s orgasm feels like a valuable pearl in the sea—something that is gorgeous in shape and hue but privatized for the sake of impending dirtiness, grime, and shaming. To the contrary, a lot of research indicates women are as capable of wanting and enjoying sex as much as men. And we need to have these conversations to prove that sexual pleasure is also important to us.
I spent a huge chunk of my life reading Cosmopolitan magazines in high school and college learning my way around a man’s body. What can please him? I knew every trick in the book. Never, ever, did I understand the way around my own vagina. And that, my friends, is a damn bummer. Men aren’t much better. I don’t know what dudes were reading in high school, but I’m assuming a few got into some dusty Playboy magazines, a publication entirely dedicated to pleasing a man. Don’t even get me started on porn.
People who think women’s bodies are more difficult to please as a whole are close-minded. And if we choose to talk about orgasms more candidly with one another, the conversation will reach a place that tells the truth about women and what we deserve sexually.
In magazines, comedy routines, sitcoms, and movies, a woman’s orgasm has been perceived as mysterious and complex, often too complex for those without them to figure out. Reason #34935 why women should be talking about them! Debunk the myth. We should be learning about them. We should be talking about what we need in a relationship. We should be talking about how uncomplex and effortless it is to please ourselves. We should be talking about how antidepressants, stress, birth control, and low communication with a partner might make it more difficult to be pleased, and why that’s okay. People who think women’s bodies are more difficult to please as a whole are close-minded. And if we choose to talk about orgasms more candidly with one another, the conversation will reach a place that tells the truth about women and what we deserve sexually. We can start here on Wit & Delight.
This is why we need the orgasm. Anatomy shouldn’t be complicated or disdainful. We need to challenge the myths we’ve learned about sexuality. We need the discussion. It’s up to us to make it clear what we want to hear, discuss, request, and enjoy. We deserve to feel comfortable talking about orgasms. I want to write this article, and more articles like these, without the guilt.
As Georgia O’Keeffe has always expressed, our bodies are pleasurable and carefree and sexual. We are as natural as the scenery around us; sexual to the point of attainable beauty meant to be enjoyed. And to be honest, we’re gross, too. We make weird faces and have random urges and make a mess. We sometimes might smell funny and wake up humping our pillow and that’s a beautiful thing! Let’s talk about it!
We must learn from each other how orgasms work and don’t work; when they feel best and when they feel weird. Get a bunch of wine with your girlfriends and talk about it. Stories don’t stop below the heart. They’re important. And even as I’m writing this, fearing my words have become fowl, I have found strength learning a little more about what I fear; and what I’m learning to love.
Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. She lives in St.Paul with her 80-year-old cat, Butch. Read more about her latest book, Borderline, and go hug your mother.