New Beginnings: Learning How to Sexually Pleasure Myself
On a sunny Friday in September (2004), I boarded a Peter Pan bus headed toward New York City. When I debarked at the Port Authority, I hailed a cab to take me to Madison and 30th. I spied a grocery store on the street corner, so I went in to stock up on food, quickly depositing a container of cooked shrimp, a salad, and an apple into the leather satchel I was carrying. No use going to see Betty Dodson, America’s masturbation queen, on an empty stomach. I paid for my food, and then walked across the street to look for her building. There it was! My heart started to pound. I entered the lobby, full of anticipation and fear.
Pragmatism prevailed. Realizing that it might be a long afternoon, I sat down in a comfortable chair in the lobby to eat my lunch snacks, chatting with the doorman as I ate. I wondered if he knew that Betty’s line of work was teaching women how to sexually pleasure themselves-and that I was going to be her next client.
I had seen a tape of Betty teaching women how to pleasure themselves, so I knew that I would have to be naked, that together she and I would use a mirror to examine my vulva, and that if I were going to come, I would have to do it in front of her.
There was also the fear I wouldn’t be able to orgasm-that I was a hopeless cause. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t ever come in my life, though. When I was fifteen, I had had spine-tingling orgasms with my first boyfriend, Howie. With his hands on top of my clothes, he had twisted my nipples and humped me, while we lay, making out, weekend after weekend, on the wooden floor of my parents’ living room. Still, forty years is a long hiatus.
For some time, I had wanted to learn how to sexually pleasure myself. I had bought several books, but reading about coming hadn’t helped me to do it. Then an event transpired, which motivated me to take action. I met a man on Craigslist, an online bulletin board, who turned me on.
One night when he had offered to give me a massage, I confessed that my goal in life was to be with someone who’d massage my feet. He cheerfully offered to do so. In a then uncharacteristic burst of abandon, I marched into my bedroom to retrieve a tube of skin cream. I walked back into the guest room, and placed it in his hand. Then I lay down on the floor, with my feet outstretched toward him.
I loved his touch. Within a minute, I was moaning, and by the time we kissed, with his hands lightly touching my ass, I wanted him inside of me. I hardly knew him, though, and certainly didn’t act on my desire. We dated for a few weeks, and then he was gone, as quickly as he had appeared. My only option was to take matters into my own hands.
I found Betty Dodson’s number online and called to make an appointment.
Betty wanted to know about my background, so when I went to see her, I brought along a biographical sketch I had written as part of my Ph.D. application. It described the difficult relationship I had had with my dad as I was growing up, and the steps I had taken to reconcile with him, after he cut me off, when I went to teach yoga in the Bahamas, after graduating from college. My autobiography also described how controlling my dad was, and included the observation that my relationship with him had been impacted by my mother’s untimely death, when I was nine months old, which he refused to speak of.
After I read my biographical sketch to Betty, I described learning about how my mother had died. A stranger told me in response to a question I had posed, when I was an inquisitive sixteen-year-old, meeting someone who I recognized as having information about her death. It was a blow to learn she had committed suicide, brought on by post-partum depression.
I lay awake the night after I learned she had committed suicide, trying to make sense of what I had heard. I interpreted my mother’s suicide as her having abandoned me. And I interpreted my dad’s distance and his growing coldness toward me as his blaming me for killing my mother. While I was conscious of my fear that my mother had abandoned me, and during my life took active steps to re-interpret her actions, the explanation for my father’s distance and coolness lodged itself deep within me-inside my heart, my soul, and especially my genitals. For in truth, I knew my father’s coldness was associated with my blooming sexuality. So I gave up those fabulous spine-tingling orgasms.
Betty showed me how to reclaim them.
After we used a mirror to examine my vulva-and she complimented me on the size and beauty of my clitoris-she positioned me on a purple towel laden with pillows upon which I could recline. Betty poured massage oil on my pussy, and showed me how to insert a dildo in my vagina, and how to arouse myself by rubbing the sides of my clit.
Then she handed me a vibrator, and looked straight into my eyes.
“Your daddy doesn’t want you to come,” she intoned. “But your mommy DOES!” she triumphantly announced.
I knew she was right. During the past years, I’ve deeply felt my mother’s presence in my life. So I knew my mother wanted me to come, as she wanted me to embrace my sexuality.
I placed the vibrator on my clit, and enjoyed its pulsating rhythms. Soon I began to moan, and before long, shout in ecstasy, as waves of pleasure overtook my body.
I came four times during my session with Betty, and now pleasure myself almost every day and a few times each weekend. I love my sensuality, my essence, my wholeness. I thank my mother for helping me to find it-and to find myself. In reclaiming my sexuality, I’ve reclaimed my mother, Hannah, as well as affirmed my close and warm relationship with my stepmother, Jean, with whom I discussed learning how to pleasure myself, and who gleefully exulted in my prowess.