The Power Of Knowing Your Body

Written by Mariam

Pleasure is what we live for, whether we know it or not. And pleasure is deeply connected to sex. As a woman, sexual health is beyond sex itself; it is the moment of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being with your sexuality. This is why we must learn about our bodies, about sex, and how to embrace our desires without fear. Life would be so different, wouldn’t it? 

Sex is a basic need, like water and air, but the fact that we don’t treat it as such is alarming. Most women are unaware or not educated about sex, while some have the knowledge about it but in a held-back way; not plainly.

I asked some women about how they came to know about what sex is. They mostly didn’t realize it through sex education. They learned it on their own, through friends, books, or TV. No one sat down to tell most of us. 

This shows that sex education is perceived as unnecessary. In some parts of the world, sex is considered dirty, especially women’s sexuality, so you don’t talk about it. Some Muslim Women are told to wait until marriage, while some think sex is a special gift given to men. 

In books and on television, we are exposed to various philosophies about what should teach us about sex and pleasure, but none of these things has anything to do with what we actually need to know. Discussions regarding women’s sexuality and how it develops, shifts, and evolves need to be more realistic and subtle.

The female anatomy is one of the greatest mysteries that remains a puzzle. The term “vagina” is used to refer to everything down there. The whole part of what makes you a woman is called a vulva; calling it a vagina reduces the entire region to a reproductive function.

It’s okay not to understand the whole concept of what a vulva is. Not everyone does. So here is the breakdown:

The labia are sisters, not twins, and are folds of skin around your vaginal opening. They vary in length, look, size, and colour. 

The vagina itself is one of the orifices that changes in its flexibility to accommodate childbirth or penetrative objects, a penis, etc., and hormones play a significant role in how flexible the wall of the vagina is. It is also where menstrual blood leaves your body.

The mons is typically the hair-bearing area that is visible when standing. The urethra is a tiny hole through which you pass urine.

The most fundamentally misunderstood feature of a woman’s body is her clitoris. The visible part is the clitoral hood, a flap of skin protecting it. One of the most delicate areas of the female body is the clitoris. It features two lovely, lengthy bulbs that protrude from the clitoris, which is located deep inside the skin, and those two bulbs are made of erectile tissue. They become pretty erect and fill with blood in reaction to stimulation, which gives women a great deal of pleasure.

The Human Clitoris (Diagram credit: Psychology Today)

Scientifically speaking, the G-spot doesn’t exist. There isn’t an anatomically distinct ecstasy button built into your vaginal canal. But it’s true that for some people, when the erectile tissue of the internal clit is enlarged from arousal, it can press against the front wall of the vagina. So what we think of as the G-spot is the clitoris being stimulated from within.

But again, not everybody’s built like this. Some women are reliably orgasmic from vaginal stimulation, while others are sometimes, rarely, or never orgasmic from vaginal penetration alone. Because where do most of the sensations come from? The clitoris. 

Many women don’t know about this breakdown, and it’s no one’s fault. Women’s body parts have not included the clitoris since the late 1940s. Even the Gray’s Anatomy book didn’t have the clitoris until 2005 when Dr Helen O’Connell, an Australian urologist, mapped the whole organ inside and out. After 65 years!!

When it comes to orgasm, many women don’t understand it, and there are questions and doubts about it. Is it how I feel? Do I have to be quiet? If you are a little confused about what an orgasm is, you are not alone.

Research shows that when men say they have an orgasm, they are mostly always right, but women, half the time, don’t, and it’s because they honestly never had one or did not know if they have had one. They mistake those pleasurable sensations as orgasms; when you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know it. That’s it. 

An orgasm, physiologically, is 8 to 12 contractions that occur throughout the pelvis that start just a second apart and increase in latency until their termination. You have a lot of neurons that are firing simultaneously, triggering a reflex brought through sexual stimulation.

There are lots of different types of orgasms. One is the clitoral orgasm. Then we have the vaginal orgasm that usually happens through penetration. And then there are blended orgasms when you’re having both. There are also anal-induced orgasms, so you might be having a tri-blended orgasm coming from those three different places. 

People are raised with the myth that because penis and vagina sex is a very reliable way for a cisgender heterosexual man to have an orgasm, that’s how a cisgender heterosexual woman is supposed to have an orgasm. If she doesn’t orgasm that way, something is wrong with her, not with the sex created between those two people. 

Lesbian women fare a little bit better, but no one orgasms as often as the straight man. This phenomenon is called the orgasm gap. Women will perhaps go through, full relationships or many years in their life where they don’t question the fact that they’re not feeling pleasure and strikingly, they will not talk to a partner about how to improve the situation for them. They accept the gap as a known “fact”. However, no one seems concerned.

Getting people to care about their bodies, pleasure, and overall well-being feels impossible when the messages we constantly get are that these things aren’t even necessary. We’re taught our sexuality through myths and urban legends until adulthood and then expected to be multi-orgasmic sex machines suddenly. All that social media is shaping our perceptions, convincing us that someone, somewhere, is doing it better than you. 

And that’s something I’ve realized about what the world thinks you’re supposed to look like. And the world has been primarily colonized by what white supremacy says; what we are supposed to look like in terms of bodies, thin, able-bodied, white, and cisgender. One reason it’s so powerful to do a mirror exercise, where you stand in front of the mirror and write the things that you like, is that it helps you eliminate those cultural messages that are telling you all the things that are wrong with your body, that you have to fix before you’re allowed to like yourself. 

I don’t want to make it sound like this is easy and that everything will be fine if you love yourself and have more body confidence. Because the fact is if you don’t conform to the culturally constructed aspirational beauty ideal, you will experience actual discrimination, which makes it all the more vital that you do this exercise. So you can also learn to accept and love your body the way you would want your daughter, mother, or sister to accept theirs.

The process of getting to know one’s self has ups and downs. We’ll have self-doubt occasionally. But it will be worth it if we develop confidence. Our bodies, in my opinion, are an uncharted territory of pleasure. However, we don’t learn about masturbation because if you’re interested in your body, it’s only regarded as impolite, filthy, and embarrassing.

Exploring our bodies and understanding what feels good or doesn’t feel good can also help us develop a unique sixth sense called interception. Interception is our ability to know what’s happening inside our bodies. So interception, it turns out, is vital. That ability to tune in and detect the earliest signs of arousal can pave the way for amplifying those signals over time. 

We want to normalize masturbation as a way of knowing your body. I think you should know your body before introducing it to someone else. Masturbate if that’s something that feels good for you. 

Another option is using a sex toy. Sex toys aren’t replacements for human touch, and neither are they replacements for human interaction. What they are, are tools and wellness products. There’s nothing salacious or scandalous about it. You can use this tool to learn about your pleasure and body. 

It’s a critical part of our journey to realizing our pleasure in our bodies and with others. It can feel daunting if you think too hard about unlocking its potential. Instead, think of your mind as a garden, where many unique pieces of you, including your sexuality, are cultivated. 

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