Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
So far in writing this column I haven’t explicitly gendered myself. Let’s try a little experiment. If I told you:
- I love porn
- I love it in the butt
- I ejaculate regularly
What gender would you think I am? Do you know? Do you think you know? How many ‘maybes’ on your list? I’ve told you I’m queer, but what does that really mean?
My first few columns orbited the peripheries of the tangled web of interlocking, mutually influencing assumptions we make about gender, sex, and sexuality. The only generalization you could really make about the whole mess is that it’s ultimately sex-negative and damaging. Women are coded as not-into-porn, so porn producers make no effort to create porn for them. Everybody is coded as not-into-anal (except for gay men, who must-be-into-anal), so they miss out on something they may like (or feel pressured to keep doing something they don’t). The ejaculation point I’ve already made.
Part of the reason I didn’t say I was a woman from the beginning is that I was curious to see what assumptions readers would make given everything else I did say. Now that I’ve thoroughly gendered myself, I want to take the opportunity to share a story, and really I may have gendered myself just so I could tell this story. It’s a story about my vagina and it’s a story about masturbation and it happened pretty recently, so be sensitive in your comments.
One of the things I miss the most about home while I’m at Swat is my detachable shower head. For many years, that masterpiece of design brought me good hygiene, great orgasms, and the occasional sideways look from my mom after yet another 45-minute-long shower (forgive me, Earthlust, I have needs). Over spring break last week, I was happily getting reacquainted with my erstwhile friend when I felt something of a surge in temperature between my legs. It happened several times and passed quickly every time, so being a little distracted, I didn’t think much of it (and if I had, I probably would have thought it was internal rather than external, just another of the strange physiological woohoos orgasms produce in us).
Turns out, I totally burned my clit, along with a wide swath of surrounding pink parts. Wiping hurts, running hurts, everything is tender and itches awkwardly in a way that’s hard to scratch without then getting awkwardly half-aroused. The only way I’ve been able to find a little bit of relief is by lying in bed, legs spread, fanning myself.
There are two lessons to be learned here. The first is that in a world of 6 billion people, there is no reason to think that you are the only-person-who-ever anything. I scalded my vagina masturbating and told the entire campus about it – what have you done that’s more embarrassing? That’s not a purely rhetorical question, by the way, and you should feel free to write in with tales of your own sordid foolishness. The point is: you are not the only girl with a hairy ass, or the only guy who can’t tell if a woman orgasms for real, or the only gay guy who doesn’t like anal sex, or the only person who has ever farted or burst out laughing or done some other goofy thing at an inopportune moment.
The second is that you can’t be too careful with what you put in or near your genital and anal regions. Far be it from me to promote the proliferation of overly specialized consumer products sold to perform one very narrow function each (so that you have to buy lots of different ones, naturally), but if you are going the DIY route with your sex accessories, think twice and play safe.