FYI: It's Not a Toggle Switch
If I could hand every single man I have slept with a diagram of a vulva before we get down to business, I would. In fact, if I could hand every single man a diagram of a vulva and force him to study it before sex, I fucking would.
Let me take a minute to explain some things: first, it is not actually called a “vagina.” The external female sex anatomy is a vulva. Get it right.
Second, within the vulva, there is a hell of a lot more going on than just a “penis hole” (a phrase I have indeed heard before). There are also labia, the opening to both the urethra and the vagina, and, of course, the ever-neglected clitoris. I have had sex with plenty of men, and out of that plenty, I’ve encountered only two who could actually find my clit (it is not located off to the side, under my labia, anywhere near my actual vagina, or so far at the top of my vulva it would actually be in my pubic hair). Of those two men, it took one of them at least three tries to figure out what to do with it. The other one had exactly one move, and he used it sparingly. Constructive criticism didn’t help. It was trial by fire, and my pleasure suffered.
It is not a toggle switch. I am not a Playstation remote control or a Nintendo Nunchuck. It is not ambiguously located. Point C is most certainly not the same thing as Point V, and if you are not at either point, absolutely nothing is going to get turned on. Unless, of course, you’re at Point A, but that’s a different conversation altogether.
Here’s the deal — vaginas are complicated. I’m not going to sugar coat it. If it is your first encounter, it can be daunting. But daunting does not, by any means, signify either “impossible” or “neglectable.”
In sleeping on this issue (with this issue, near this issue, under this issue), I realized the problem is less in the “Men are Dumb” category, and more in the “Sex Communication is Sexy” category. If I’m saying “yes,” then I am saying “yes” to pleasure, not to being jackhammered by a finger-toggle-happy-douche-canoe. And, in saying “yes” to pleasure, it is up to me to express what I like and dislike in bed. However, I can express myself into next Tuesday and back, but if my partner is not listening, he is not going to be welcomed back to explore my lady bits. He has to figure it out, just as much as I do. Of course, we live in a society that does not teach young girls how to seek pleasure, while our straight male counterparts are basically spoon-fed that shit from birth. This issue goes far beyond not-knowing and not-listening. It is all about an individual’s right to expect not only communication but also effort in the bedroom.
Communication is a two-way street (I got that from my parents’ marriage counselor), which means, if you are not listening to me, I am going to stop listening to you. Just watch my gag reflex come back to life. I swear to god.
This goes for any sexual relationship, from the long-term couple who are always holding hands, to last Friday’s one-night-stand, and to the person you’ve been fucking casually all of Fall Quarter. We are living in an era of apathetic hookups, clit jackhammering, boob twisting, and sex encounters as routine and boring as buying bananas from Whole Foods, and I am not here for it. In being an apathetic participant, you are turning your sexual experiences into a boring spectator sport. Didn’t anyone ever tell you you should treat your sex partner as you yourself would want to be treated? Apathy will get you nowhere in the bedroom, my friend, because if you are incapable of listening to your partner, she will be incapable of listening to you.
Just listen to your partner. Listen. To. Your. Goddamned. Partner. Then, put in the effort to prove you are listening.
The “yes” cues are so easy to catch and interpret. If she’s moaning: yes. If he’s begging for more: yes. If they are literally screaming (the good screaming): yes. If your partner is silent, watching the clock, and trying to reposition you so it is more enjoyable for them, but you are still going after the same thing: no. That means something went wrong, and your communication and your effort must be revived. It means it is time to pull out your handy dandy sexy-bits map and give it another once-over. It means it is time to give a fuck, both literally and figuratively.
Tell your partner what you like; let your partner tell you what they like. Then follow the fuck through. And for Jesus Christ’s sake, go read this Cosmo article about fingering.
Molly Gregory is a senior at Northwestern, studying literature and history. She is a writer, painter, fitness junkie, and is constantly working on her next book, next piece, and next composite lift totals. You can keep up with her projects on Instagram @mollygirl_21.
(Graphic by Ruiqi Chen)