I used to hate how women sounded in porn — breathy, overly enthusiastic, shrill, annoying. But I’ve realized that my actual issue with their eager exclamations was that they seemed forced and fake.
Their sounds of enjoyment, their moans and squeals and sighs, felt like an ideal to live up to. They immediately gratified some man’s clumsy sexual maneuvers rather than demonstrating the reality of communication in sex.
But even recognizing that unrealistic ideal, I still found myself succumbing to guilt, pretending to moan and enjoy myself for the sake of my partners. I worried that it took too long for me to come, that there was something wrong with my pussy. Worst of all, I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t enjoying sex.
Cut to a random hookup a few years later, tipsy on a dark beach with a friend of a friend of a friend fingering me roughly in a clear approximation of what he planned to do with his dick. Every so often, I’d try to shift so that his fingers would actually feel good, but he’d immediately move his hand back. Rather than telling him, “Hey, dude, just move your fingers like this,” I made a couple of high-pitched fake moans to stroke his ego.
I instantly regretted it as he started thrusting his fingers even harder. “Yeah, you like that, huh? I’m fucking you so good.” In my head, I told him exactly how I felt. No, actually, I wish you were a woman. I wish you would at least ask me what I like. Maybe then you’d really be able to “fuck me good.” But in reality, I stayed silent, and I ended the night with sand in my vagina and frustration with myself for not speaking up. And every time I hooked up with a man after that, it ended pretty much the same way.
A year later, during my first one-night stand with a woman, I was terrified. I’d only ever slept with women whom I’d been dating for a long time. After a few minutes of heavy making out, she started to kiss her way down my belly. I worried that it would take me too long to orgasm. What if she got tired, or worse, angry? I was so caught up in my own head that I didn’t notice that she’d stopped and was now looking at me. She cupped my chin up so that we made eye contact, and whispered, “Show me what you like.”
I’d never been asked what I liked before, much less given an opportunity to genuinely express myself during a hookup. I’d never even considered the possibility that I could actually orgasm during a one-night stand.
With her lips suddenly on my inner thigh, all sexual reservations were put on hold. I took the opportunity she’d given me to show her what I liked. And she took my honesty and used that knowledge to make me more vocal than I’d ever been before. At one point in the night, I clapped my hand over my mouth out of habit to muffle myself — and she grasped my wrists and pinned them above my head, saying: “You can make noise, pretty girl. I want you to scream for me.” I threw all hesitation and thoughts of silence out the window at that, moaning, “Fuck, please, harder, like that, oh my God, oh my God, fuck” — unafraid and unashamed of how loud I was being, of telling her what I wanted.
That hookup was a turning point in my sexual adventures. Needless to say, I don’t hold myself back — I say exactly what I’m feeling and what I want. I don’t wait for people to ask me anymore. Sex is just so much better when I’m not spending all my energy and headspace worrying about what I sound like or how good I am in bed.
I know that I have the power to make my sexual experiences pleasurable for myself, not just for my partners.
Just as I am deliberately vocal during sex, I retain the same power with my writing. No submissiveness, no passivity and absolutely no suppression of myself — I take charge of my opinion, and it’s my choice and my power to speak up.
In both my writing and my sexual encounters, I am vocal. I don’t care if you think my voice is too shrill, too much, too high-pitched or too annoying. If you — yes, buddy, I’m talking to you — are desperately trying to justify your sexual incompetence by calling me any of the above descriptors, then this shit isn’t for you. Think of this as your only warning.
If you’ve ever felt unsure of how to take back your power or wondered how to have a healthy and genuinely pleasurable relationship with sex, well then, this is Sex on Tuesday — unashamed, wet, powerful, out and vocal.
Astrid Liu writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected].