Learning to be selfish: The quest for a fulfilling sex life as a 43 year old Uruguayan woman
By: Verónica Pamoukaghlián
Right around the time when I discovered masturbation, me, my sister, and my cousin found a VHS copy of Caligula. This was the late 80s, so, porn was really hard to come by, especially if you were a girl.
To be honest, I don’t remember much about Caligula. My ex was a big fan, but we broke up before finding the time to share the experience. However, we did enjoy many other Tinto Brass films together.
Everything I learnt about sex, mainly from popular culture, proved completely wrong when he and I connected. First of all, like most of the girls of my generation, I believed that I was supposed to orgasm while the man was inside me. I remember saying Sartre’s phrase to myself like a mantra, “Le plaisir, il n’y a que moi qui puisse me le donner.” Like the female protagonist of “Le mur,” I believed there was something wrong with me.
For Gen Xers born in Uruguay, like me, the male orgasm is the centre of any cisgender heterosexual relationship. Men are praised for being able to push in and out of the vagina for a long time without ejaculating. Penis size is a big deal, and the female orgasm exists only as an occasional side effect. I believe mainstream pornography is largely to blame for this.
My father’s generation was characterized by dissociation. There was a the madonna and there was the putana, and the two could never become one. In the light of this dichotomy – an heirloom of Italian immigration – it was acceptable for men to keep lovers and pay for sex while married, as sexual interaction with the wife was expected to be boring and uneventful. Our generation inherited this: as one former schoolmate once told me, “I cannot tell my wife, ‘go clean the inside of your ass, I want to have anal sex.’”
The same boy also told me that he was only sexually generous with very beautiful women. He believed that less attractive women were expected to pleasure the man without asking for anything in return.
Another male friend told me that a girl had performed fellatio on him at work for four years, without ever asking for anything else. When they finally went to a motel together, he started prepping her for anal sex, to which the girl turned around and said, “No, it’s my turn now.” She had to wait four years to receive some degree of pleasure, and, I presume, no orgasm whatsoever.
When I fell in love with my ex, I realised everything I had known before was a load of bollocks. I discovered a different kind of beauty. I fell in love with my skin, my scents, and everything that is natural about my body. Together, we discovered that love could be something else.
Love doesn’t give a rat’s ass about propriety or perfection. Love is dirty and sweet and exciting, and endlessly interesting and mysterious.
The Uruguayan man of my generation who is head over heels with his woman’s orgasm is a rarity. I don’t have any girlfriends who have had a man who gave her 4, 5, and sometimes 10 orgasms every day, the way my ex did for me.
I believe that love is about freedom and generosity. Our post-dictatorship culture has taught men little about sexual generosity towards women, and little vagina appreciation. In contrast, it has taught women to become a geisha for the man, always focusing on their pleasure, always shaking their peacock feathers, their fake noses, their fake boobs, and their expensive garments, to see if one of them will stick around long enough to give up on his “not interested in anything serious right now” routine.
Recently, a friend told me that she hadn’t been able to orgasm for over a year. Because I know how easy it usually is for a healthy woman to reach orgasm, I was puzzled. I asked her if she had tried watching a sexy movie. She told me she found porn disgusting. I sent her a Tinto Brass movie and the orgasm was, finally, restored.
Sometimes it is as simple as that. Women who wait for mediocre men to help them find their orgasm are toast. I believe the essence of a healthy sexuality is an understanding of one’s own body, a veneration of the other person enough to make us want to give them endless pleasure, an openness about what turns us on, and a bit of a selfish interest in having as many intense orgasms as possible.
A man who understands that a woman’s beauty is a gift beyond earthly riches is also an essential part of the heterosexual equation. Men who exclusively date women solely for the way they look don’t know the first thing about love. They may never understand that such outer features mean nothing when someone you are in love with is giving you an orgasm.
Verónica Pamoukaghlián is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist, a novel translator for Amazon Publishing and an IBERMEDIA Scholarship recipient.Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in THE ACENTOS REVIEW, PRISM, NAKED PUNCH, THE SOUTHERN PACIFIC REVIEW, SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY, THE ARABESQUES REVIEW, in several international anthologies, and elsewhere. Veronica is a regular contributor for Lento magazine, The Big Smoke America, and Otro lunes. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Louisville and a Creative Writing professor at Uruguay´s Technical University. Visit her website: VeronicaPamoukaghlian.com