When Is It OK To Say “Orgasm”?
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.
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.
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.
100 thoughts on “When Is It OK To Say “Orgasm”?”
Oh Lynda yer so fine, yer so fine you blow my mind, Oh Lynda! OoooOOOOOooooo Lynda! 😉
I guess you liked my post! Thanks for reading, Christine! 🙂
You guessed correctly. Now I need a cigarette, and I don’t even smoke.
It was well written, my friend and well said!! I am still laughing about it!!! Hahaha… we really must stop treating sexuality as something sinful!! I totally agree with you… it just perpetuates ignorance about what sexuality really is: “It is the central aspect of being human throughout life”… in fact, sexuality is a beautiful thing if we just embrace it with responsibility (just like anything else)!!! Gosh… when we are going to change this close minded view that just brings frustrations and lack of self expression!!! Wow…
I know, it is sad that somehow it’s OK to speak openly about almost anything except sexuality… Still very Victorian of us, in spite of thinking we’re so ‘modern.’ Thanks for reading, Naluce!
Hi Professor, while browsing amazon I came across this book and at first thought you had just published your book, but alas, its someone else who has a book with the same title 🙁 http://www.amazon.com/Licking-Spoon-Memoir-Identity-ebook/dp/B009SC13J8/ref=zg_tr_156154011_53
I know! They published before I did! It’s a very different kind of book, though. I may change my title, but sometimes books are published with the same title. Thanks for thinking of me! If you want to sign up to follow my blog, you’ll find out when it gets published.
From my perspective the most righteous act is for people to speak for themselves, as for one man to label a specific group or ethnicity with a stereotypical perspective or trait is just as “inappropriate” as speaking openly about sex in front of a possibly conservative audience.
I agree with you, Gary. I think it showed his own discomfort with sexuality, as no one else there seemed to be offended.
love the article it really shows how some people can be uncomfertible with sexuality
Yes, Kaileen, I was surprised, too! I must say I’m glad most of my friends are comfortable with the topic of sexuality!
Our society has a norm that sex has to be top secret. Once that secret is spilled, society usually generalizes and shames those who speak of it. I agree that it is ignorant to claim that sex is an absurd topic to talk about pertaining to a particular race. How else would mankind survive all these years? Everyone has to engage in sex for our sole existence.
I guess he was assuming that everyone there thought just like him, Chris. That’s usually a mistake!
Many people at this day are not comfortable with sexuality. We should be able to talk about it openly especially too children because we are seeing more and more younger children (Girls) becoming pregnant. I believe if parents were more open to sex and their knowing they were once young they would give their child at an appropriate age the SEX talk then we would not be shocked when we hear sex talk.
I know I sure wish I had heard a lot more about sex than I did!
This article is really awesome to read!!! I do felt it is really uncomfertible to talk about sexuality when I was in China. I do believe that environment does effect what i believe. 🙂
And yet there are countries that are far ahead of the US when it comes to being more open about sex. I hope we keep moving in that direction.
Another awesome post. Your posts just keep me entertained and your stories are awesome. I’m going to read all of them!!! Also, I can’t wait for more posts in the future.
I’m pretty old, Jayson, so my stories can just keep coming! I’m glad you’re enjoying my posts.
I absolutely agree that the topic of Sexuality should not be treated like a “second-class citizen.” It is pretty strange how some find it awkward to discuss it when sexuality is such a normal thing in life. Of course some restrictions should remain, but when in a open room full of adults who are mature, why not have a discussion about sexuality! Love this post Professor!
Thank you Ronnie! And of course I agree.
Well, everyone has their comfort levels and it seems that this person was as I would call it, Victorianized.
Agreed, and stereotyping others as well.
Totally agree with you professor, when were outside of your class waiting for you a few of the other students and I speak freely about sex and it didn’t seem to bother anyone
I’m glad. Hopefully there will come a day when open discussion about sex is taken for granted.
I like the people or students comments, but the whole point of this article, you learn something from it and there are people that won’t like it or others do, but it is the reality of life and sex and among other things too, but this is about sex. I think personally it is good to learn and get educated from it.
Of course you’re right, there will always be those who approve and disapprove, Alfa.
People need to stop treating sex like it is something bad. We all have sex and enjoy it so why not talk about it ? Share experiences without it being a sinful thing or something that is frowned upon.
Maybe we will reach that day. I hope so.
I always think that it is ridiculous to prejudice people based on categories like color, gender, etc. I believe differences between people within any given category are much greater than differences between groups. And I also think that if people get educated more about sex, they are more likely to have a more positive and open attitude towards talking about sex.
awesome articles hope you post more up in the future! very interesting!
I plan to keep posting as long as I come up with ideas! Thanks.
I think sexuality should not be regarded as sinful;however, it should be practiced safely. It is important to educate children at a young age about sexuality. I’m sure it would avoid unwanted pregnancies and dangerous STDS
Really it was an adult party I think he was probably just jealous that your friend had a better year than he did YOLO!
That’s funny Chelsea – and maybe true.
I don’t think orgasm is a shameful word at all. Life would be so much more different (enjoyable, I think) if people treated sex as a healthy, enjoyable, and fulfilling part of life. Instead of treating it like it’s something to be ashamed of :
HAHA that guy seriously needed to get laid. It’s pretty clear that his bad attitude and assumptions come from sexual frustration! I love that you stood up against him, because more people need to be aware that sex as a topic is becoming more and more typical every day!
Talking about sex is one thing that I am comfortable with and willing to stand up for!
I think in certain parties, the word orgasm isn’t usually mentioned that is probably why one might consider it inappropriate. Like, my family and I are considered avid Catholics and it would really surprise us if one of our relatives or friends just mentions the word orgasm. But, i don’t think we would consider it inappropriate since everyone is subjective on how they want to talk about sex. Great article, btw.
Thank you! I think a family situation is different from an adult party.
What I find saddening is besides the fact that he was an educated adult and despite teaching human sexuality your friend’s friend was uncomfortable talking about orgasms. Thats absolutely ridiculous! I wonder how he teaches his class. Anyways, Im glad you took a stand and told him a piece of your mind. I hope he realizes not only how wrong he was but how prejudice his comment was.
Well, maybe I didn’t make it clear: My woman friend and I are the human sexuality teachers, the man used to teach history. Clearly he should NOT be teaching human sexuality!
I believe it was the right thing to take a stand for your friend, because I believe this goes to show no matter how educated you are you can still be ignorant and this particular individual is a great example. I believe that the reason why he reacted the way he did was due to his lack of orgasms that year maybe, but he should act mature about it and just get over it.
Nice article, and I think that everything would be so much simpler if people saw sex as an enjoyable and beautiful part of life, nothing to be ashamed of.
I hope we’re moving in that direction.
It’a 2014 who cares about being hush hush over sex related words! we are all practically animals and gorillaz in bed. Most of everyone likes it, and we should flaunt it. Orgasm is a great word and something I hope everyone is able to experience.
Me too, Beah!
Good for you on speaking out! Sometimes I bite my tongue when I hear comments I disagree with but to hear stories like yours makes me feel like I should be more open!!
It certainly made for interesting conversation – and a blog post for me!
i love orgasms! haha its not a bad word! hello? people do it constantly, why are they acting like virgins haha i love how your so open about sexuality! makes life fun! 😉
I know, why make life dull? Sex is a part of who we are and here for us to enjoy!
I always love to hear about other women in the world who don’t lie to themselves and the rest of the world admit they enjoy sex.
Many do, but unfortunately the conditions they need are not always being met, and they are sometimes too shy to ask for what they need.
You know, this reminds me of some of the conversations that I overhear right outside of class when we’re waiting for the door to be unlocked. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on people, but hey, they were like a few feet away from me. I do think that there is nothing wrong with speaking freely about sexuality, as long as things don’t get out of hand.
I think there’s a difference between having a real conversation about sex, vs. just trying to be rude or gross.
Aha wow the nerve of some people to tell you what you said was wrong!
I know, huh – word police!
Very interesting! Makes me happy to know my parents taught me about sex at a young age. I’m so glad I’m so open about sex!
It’s something to be grateful for, Karen. Most people don’t get it.
sounds like you had a lot of festivities going on during those get-togethers haha. liked this one a lot! keep it up! (:
Well, I do love parties. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
I’m sorry you and your friend’s friend had a disagreement over something not very serious. But in class you’ve talked about how people just aren’t comfortable talking about sex or anything to do with sex, especially with religious people. But your friend did get some snickers out of it which wasn’t too bad.
True! Although our friendship with the guy has not gotten better.
I completely agree that talking about sex is not such a big deal because one sex is talked everywhere. Just because someone is not comfortable does not mean that one has be quite and not express oneself, as she or he is entitled to.
I think I know of this amazing Brazilian woman you speak of 😉 I could hear her voice through your recount of the night. I have no idea why that man would be so offended by sex talk. My friends and I always talk about sex. Granted most are females and homoesexual men. But have you ever noticed that many heterosexual males have difficulty talking about actual sex openly? Maybe not in high school when some are starting to get “some action”. Some guys are surely more reserved when it comes to the sex talk.
I think in another setting he might not have been SOOO offended. He thought of it as a spiritual setting, even though why should sex and spirituality be separate? In some cultures, sex WAS spirituality! Anyways, something he did admit later was that he was interested in my spicy Brazilian friend. So maybe that tells us something too. 🙂
That was truly a great post! Before I say anything else, I would like to say that I totally agree with you in terms of not treating sexuality as a second class citizen and I definitely think that it is important for people to become better in communicating about sex. However, I can also see where the guy was coming from. I grew up with very traditional Asian parents and talking about sexuality in public is just terrifying to them. Fortunately, I’ve been slowly educating them about what I have learned in your Human Sexuality class and am proud to say that my mother said the word orgasm (in Chinese) for the first time in public a few weeks ago while we were having lunch with a family friend!
I agree with the idea that people treat sexuality as this unholy sin. It’s part of human nature. Either except it or ignore the burning desires. And it’s funny how people seem to jump to the ceiling like a scared cat if you mention anything sexual openly in comparison to private, hush hush sounding like a dirty secret. I also appreciate you standing up for a friend because it shows a lot of character.
Thank you Kyle! And I guess it’s been my mission in life to take sex out of the dirty secret realm!
This post made me so happy! I Feel the same exact way about the whole “conservative African American” thing. We’re all human and if I want to say something about sex… Then so be it! No need to get offended! Loved this post!
I’m glad it made you happy Justyne! I must say most of the African-American people I know think you can be spiritual AND sexy! Don’t have to deny sexuality to seem more ‘godly.’
Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and such but that guy just seemed a little strange! It’s funny how people believe that one culture’s beliefs are above all else and should be respected at all times regardless of the person’s culture that is different! The word orgasm is not unholy and is an expression of no particular culture and is intertwined in everyone. Evolution brought us here and we should appreciate how we came about!
Agree! Maybe he needs to study tantra – ‘sex as sacred.’
I wonder if the orgasm comment made him uncomfortable because it was a woman saying it. I swear not every comment I make is going to scream feminism (ok it might who am I kidding here)! I am amazed that in the 21st century we still have such Victorian views on sex, sexuality, and talking about sex
Well, it turned out that he WAS interested in her, but he sure didn’t help things by being so uptight and critical.
I will never completely understand why people get so offended by anything related to sex. It’s completely natural and normal. Everyone does it yet some people get so offended when it’s brought up. I’m glad I have a good group of girlfriends where we can talk openly about sex and nobody judges the other but instead listens and jokes about it. People are so close minded still. Grrr
really interesting how some people are just not comfortable with sex
Interesting and unfortunately sad!
Very Interesting and very well said! I completely agree! My friends and I when we were in high school and even after (we have all since split up and moved to different states), we used to have puzzles and porn nights. We would all party and hang out and then we would put on porn and do puzzles, and all to see who would last. Most passed out and fell asleep. But that was my first taste of the party world.
“Passed out and went to sleep” was not what I expected you to say. But still sounds like a fun party!
awesome article and its funny how still some people find it uncontrollable to talk abut sex when everyone does it
And these were mature adults!
this article is a great example of how shy or uncomfortable people can be to their sexuality or just sexuality of others in general
Yes, I was a bit stunned that the word “orgasm” was so offensive to him.
Very funny love you’re blog! 😂
I’m glad you enjoy my sense of humor!
I truly admire your friend’s openness–there’s nothing wrong with talking about orgasms. I have conversations with my friends relating to sex and we… compare notes about our own experiences and whatnot. I just would not joke as openly if I wasn’t sure of the comfort level of the other individuals in the room (I’m a little too shy for that), but if her friend wasn’t comfortable with it, I would think that it’s more productive to let her know instead of gossiping about it behind her back.
The host saw a problem with what my friend said. We saw a problem with his assumption that everyone there felt as he did.
Why is sex not normalize, and be seen as an extension of who you are? It is such a shame for people to pass judgments by even the mention of of sex, orgasms, etc.
I agree! I think there are few (if any) topics that elicit such a reactive response as sex.
i was never one to feel awkward about taking about orgasms or sex in general, but now that i am taking naluce’s human sexuality class she has made me feel like i need to fully express who i am and not care what others have to say and just do what makes me happy sexually and in life
And that is one goal of a human sexuality teacher, so she is doing her job!
I just learned in class that people are taught from their parents that it’s uncomfortable to speak about sex because of the old Theoretical Model, but now a days sex is every where!! There’s nothing wrong with it, it is all natural.
Yes, sex is natural, but it is also influenced by so many things – good and bad, natural, and unnatural.
Definitely see your side of things more than the other guy. It seems like he took things out of proportion, after all, it was a party. I do appreciate your reference to the double standard in how he was quick to judge your friend but didn’t seem to have a problem with his friend chatting up some girls. I often see this double standard with some of my male peers. In particular, working in customer service I make it known how uncomfortable their flirting with customers makes me, and probably the customers as well. They are quick to ask “Don’t you think some of our customers are hot?”… well yeah maybe, doesn’t mean I am undressing them with my eyes or drooling all over them.
You make a good point, and I would add: just because he thinks they’re hot doesn’t mean they think he’s hot and welcome his attention. Most of the time probably not!
I’m taking a human sexuality class and although I knew what I got myself into I was still find some things awkward to be open about it with other people but I got use to it over time, I feel like maybe the host of that party hasn’t really had that much experience with people being open. Your Brazilian friend seems like a blast to be around.
It’s amazing how a person’s outlook changes as they become educated about human sexuality. Unless I’m mistaken, my Brazilian friend is your professor!