When Is It OK To Say “Orgasm”?

orgasm African

During the holidays, I was invited to the party of a friend of a friend. My friend had introduced me to this man because she thought we might hook up… It soon became obvious that he and I just weren’t feelin’ it, but he was a nice person, and I invited him to some get-togethers at my home.  One thing he knew about my friend and learned about me is that we are both human sexuality teachers who are comfortable talking about sex. Plus my friend is a spirited Brazilian woman, and we love to dance.  Par-tay!

We arrived early to help set up food and get some wine flowing.  When about a dozen people were there, our host asked us to gather ‘round.  He showed us a kind of shrine to his deceased parents and tied their story to an Egyptian painting that hung above the shrine.  I’m not sure if it was a replica of a famous work or if ancient Egyptian art just tends to include sharp-faced dogs and men walking with stiff legs.  The painting had many characters, whom he thought of as various incarnations of his family members.  You could tell he’d been a history teacher.  My feet in their party heels quietly began to pass notes to each other.

 orgasm Egyptian

Finally he asked us to hold hands in a circle and share our per­­­spectives on the departing year 2012.  People expressed gratitude for their health or sorrow over a loss they’d suffered.  When it came to my friend, she spoke of her worry about her aging mother in Brazil.  But ever the optimist, she added, with her charming accent and a twinkle in her eye, that 2012 had been a good year for orgasms.  I couldn’t observe everyone at once, but I did catch a few smiles and titters.  And then more people arrived and we celebrated, with music, potluck, some folks playing cards, others talking or dancing.  We ended up staying rather late and having a good time.

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Imagine my surprise when I invited my friend and her friend to another gathering at my house, at which her friend proceeded to tell us that her orgasm comment had been inappropriate.  His reason?  “Most of the people at my party were African-American, African-Americans tend to be churchy, and we just don’t talk like that.”

Excuse me?  I don’t mean to tread on anyone’s cultural perceptions here, but this was not my first time at the party.  Even the mostly African-American party.  I’ve observed that not all black people believe or act the same.  I recalled a lunch with an African-American woman friend who shared openly with the group that she had spent the afternoon in bed with her vibrator.  You go, girl!

He’d invited us to a party, not a class or a prayer circle. Everyone was adult. I can’t help but wonder what else might have been behind his discomfort. Was it the beatific smile of his mother’s photo looking on?  Was he jealous that none of those good orgasms was with him?  And did he similarly chastise his male friend who hit on women by lying about working for the FBI?


I’m sorry to say that he and I had a rather spirited disagreement, and we’ve had no contact since.  Sure, I was defending my friend, but I was also standing for two ideas.  One is that it’s prejudice to assume that all members of a group, even our ‘own’ group, think the same.  The other is that it’s time to stop treating sexuality as a second-class citizen, unworthy to pass our lips unless in crude locker-room jokes, and perhaps even to take a lesson from the ancients, who exalted it as the sacred source of life. 


Licking the Spoon, my book in progress about food, sex and relationship, discusses the language of sex and how it can make or break a romantic interlude.

orgasm Indian

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