(body talk #9)

O 5

I want to write about orgasm, but the words keep squirming on the page.

I write something and it flops around making sad wet noises, looking for someplace to hide.

I can write about orgasm fictitiously, hypothetically, theoretically, metaphorically, poetically, scientifically, and jokingly, but not personally. What could be more personal than an orgasm?

I want to write about orgasm, but the words “I” and “orgasm” in the same sentence make me feel naked and shivery.

O 6

She wants to write about orgasm only if she can do it like a puppeteer does it: hiding behind the scenes, in a high, funny voice, with one hand up the puppet’s skirt.

How come I can write about having a wart, smoking a joint, laughing so hard I wet my pants, being depressed, and giving birth, but I can’t write about an orgasm?

To get in the mood to write about orgasm, I looked at the movie Y Tú Mamá También, some porn, and a really sexy flower but it didn’t help.  Still, you should have seen that flower.

O 8

If I can say “this cupcake is tongue porn” or “those shoes are so freaky sexy” or write about a workout that makes my earth quake until I explode like a volcano, a meal that filled me like I’ve never been filled before, or a foot rub that throws my head back and pulls a weird, gutteral bawl out of my throat, why can’t I write about an actual orgasm?

What is the correlation between talking about an orgasm and having one?

O 4

Just saying the word “orgasm” makes my cheeks hot. Say it: orGASM. Orgasmmm. O-o-o-orgasm!

If I was going to write about orgasm, I’d want to sound like a grown-up, but I can’t wipe this stupid look off my face.

Speaking of stupid looks, isn’t it strange that most people probably never see their own orgasm-face? And interesting that most people keep their eyes closed during orgasm.Probably because at that point, faces are just a distraction.

O 2

Orgasms are a function of our autonomic nervous systems, which means they happen without our consciousness being involved, like digestion or breathing. Some people have involuntary orgasms: their body orgasms with or without their mind’s involvement and sometimes even if their mind objects.

Conversely, there’s a woman who can think herself to orgasm. Wow. I call that the ultimate union of body and mind.

I think most people fall in the middle; the mind and body must work together to make it happen.  It’s like an internal tug-of war.  No, it’s like tango dancers trying to figure out who’s going to lead.

Story idea: twin sisters in their 20’s, identical, except one has involuntary orgasms at inopportune moments and the other is completely inorgasmic. Conflict develops– maybe they’re roommates, maybe they go on double dates, maybe the orgasmic sister needs a lot of help with her disability– and then the second twin, who feels simultaneously contemptuous and left out, goes to an Elvis Presley concert and discovers an ability to think herself to orgasm.  (The story is set in the tight 50’s and free 60’s.)  So while one sister is plagued by orgasms that ambush her at difficult and comedic moments, the other begins to believe that orgasms are some kind of spiritual epiphany. We get to meet some sex scientists like Kinsey and Masters and Johnson and maybe some hippy gurus, too.  Of course, there will be a happy ending.

Some people describe orgasm as “transcendental.” Some believe it is a higher state of consciousness. I think an orgasm is the smartest adaptation for the perpetuation of a species. I wonder what Darwin thought about orgasm.

O 1

When Anais Nin said, “electric flesh-arrows traversing the body. A rainbow of color strikes the eyelids. A foam of music falls over the ears. It is the gong of the orgasm,” I bet she said it with a straight face.

If I spoke French, perhaps I could write about orgasm more fluently. I bet French orgasms are fabulous.

My mother never told me about about orgasms. Instead, she bought books. Where Did I Come From? The Joy of Sex. Our Bodies, Ourselves.The Delta of Venus. Fear of Flying. I learned about orgasm from books. If that is possible.

O 7

If say “I learned about orgasm from a book,” it makes me sound so much more thoughtful and serious than if I said I learned on horseback or from a wad of play dough or a bathtub or a bedpost or a blender or or the girl next door or the spin cycle or the car blasting loud music at the intersection or a Tickle Me Elmo doll or a roller coaster or a vibrator shaped like a corncob, doesn’t it?

If one could touch an orgasm, it would feel like wet silk. If an orgasm was an instrument, it would be a bagpipe. The sound, smell, and taste of an orgasm is not unlike a sneeze. I think sneezes and orgasms must be sisters. Or maybe step-sisters, the orgasm being everybody’s favorite, the poor sneeze overlooked. To me, every Prince song sounds like an orgasm and Ravel’s Bolero, of course, and Otis Redding’s Tenderness.

Metaphorically, all good things follow an arc: stories, sport events, life, most successful human endeavors, they all follow the pattern of anticipation, struggle, climax, and relief.  Look at architecture, a cardiograph, a bell curve, a  plot.

O 3

I used to have this recurring dream: a vast, cold ocean, no land in sight, no boats or rafts or life preservers, just a sea full of people bobbing in the water.  The waves roll in, one after the other, never ending, and the people just keep paddling over each crest as it comes, shouting for joy at the apex, then sliding down the trough to prepare for the next rise.

Even though I haven’t yet said anything specific about orgasms, I’ve written the word “orgasm” so many times here it no longer looks like a real word.


This TedTalk with Mary Roach is a must-see. In this talk, she discusses her meeting with the woman who can think herself to orgasm (but, alas, does not reveal exactly what she is thinking). BTW, I believe in “upsuck.”


What do you fictitiously, hypothetically, theoretically, metaphorically, poetically, scientifically, and/or jokingly, think? 

If you like this post, you might also like this one about writing called teaching snails to fly.

About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.


  1. In not-writing about orgasm, you’ve expressed the first lesson every woman learns in the bedroom: how to fake it.

  2. Love this and orgasms!
    I just talked to my mom yesterday about how she knew so little before getting married. I learned through experienced girlfriends and curious boyfriends. The greatest thing about getting older is that they get better!
    After wring about the subject, are you more comfortable with the word?

  3. There are so many things I love about this piece: I love that you managed to walk entirely around and through the concept of the orgasm with an upbeat tone and an honest heart; I love that, by your not being able to talk about the orgasm, your embarassment becomes a self-reflexive framework on which to shape this story; and, finally, I love that you “Perth Amboy-ed” (in the style of James Thurber) the word orgasm by repeating it so often that the word became foreign.

    Ah, AF– your writing is such a joy to read, always.

    • And now I’m even embarrassed by my embarrassment. I mean, really. I must admit, I wrote four pages of cringe-worthy crap before I came up with the line, “I want to write about orgasm, but the words keep squirming on the page” and then the words just flowed out. What is Perth Amboyed? I’m going to have to google that. (Although I do this all the time– repeat a word until it morphs into a weird shape/noise.) Thank you, CB. xoox

  4. Although I was only able to use the word “orgasm” (or a variation of it) very few times, I believe in my search for truth this “historic lack of information” that you speak of has been available for some time. However, as far back as I have researched, the orgasm is only a small tittilating portion of the story

  5. Where did the term ‘beating around the bush’ come from?


    • Beating Around the Bush: Verb
      beat around the bush (third-person singular simple present beats around the bush, present participle beating around the bush, simple past and past participle beaten around the bush)
      (idiomatic) To treat a topic, but omit its main points, often intentionally.
      (idiomatic) To delay or avoid talking about something difficult or unpleasant.
      Please stop beating around the bush and tell me what the problem is!
      To answer your question, Mike:
      “In the middle ages when the English royalty would go hunting they would send out ‘beaters’—people hired to beat bushes with sticks and scare the wild beasts out of their hiding places in the bushes into the open spaces where they could be hunted by the kings and princes. Thus the saying originated——it means purposely avoiding saying something, trying to get around it.” So instead of just killing the animal in the bush, you flush it out for someone else to finish the proverbial job.

  6. Saw the phrase “one hand up the puppet’s skirt” and thought, yeah, there’s probably an orgasm-oriented subculture devoted to that on the internets somewheres. Added to to my list of things NOT to Google.

    Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of Anais Nin’s descriptions of orgasms; they’re big, bold, fantasy world orgasms that happen only in the pages of books – or with that one rare partner who knows that one really sick thing that gets you off big-time.

  7. I have no answers, but I totally enjoyed reading your trail of thoughts. I saw Mary Roach a couple of years ago when she was promoting BONK. She was damned funny.

  8. I have never thought about an orgasm in such depth in my life. It was interesting to read this. I enjoy writing smut so it doesn’t bother me to write about the orgasm (even my own). I’m not sure why though.

  9. Very clever, very entertaining post. Once I wrote an anthropology essay that attempted to put into poetry that ‘internal tug of war’ you speak of… I was much braver then than I am now! 🙂

  10. Karin

    For an interesting historical read, pullup either hysteria or vibrator in Wikipedia. Fifth household appliance invented, the vibrator.

    • Ha. Hysterical! (Pun intended.) Before they were made for the household, doctors used to use them on “hysterical” patients. The doctor would perform the treatment. Why they didn’t just give the poor women their own vibrators? No, don’t answer that question, it’ll just make me angry.

  11. Sad commentary on parenting, communication, and sex Ed for girls…I didn’t learn from anywhere, even books, until well into my twenties, well into my marriage, and after first child. Was I living under a rock??? I mean, I guess I knew in theory, but didn’t have first hand knowledge of how the whole thing worked. Wasted time, I tell ya.

    • Wasted time for sure. It seems like this should be lesson #1 after the basic plumbing is covered. My oldest just had sex ed in school and they did talk about it. We’d already discussed orgasms at home, but it was good to have backup. Maybe sex ed is getting better.

  12. macdougalstreetbaby

    You have such an interesting mind, Anna. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I have two things to say about orgasm. One is that although I have been known to enjoy the “Big O,” it doesn’t rule my Universe. I’ll tell you one thing straight up. I’ll take a good mind fuck over it any day of the week.

    The second is that I love Mary Roach’s style. I love her shoes. I love her skirt. I love the way she wears that scarf. And I love, love, love that she shared with us the toothpaste case. If that’s not curious, I don’t know what is.

  13. Oh that Mary Roach. What a doll. And the “semen connoisseur” tidbit– what a job, eh?

    Love your Os, too. Don’t have much counsel on how to get in the mood to describe that petite mort. Scotch might be involved?

    • Even if after a tequila shot, I doubt I’d be able to write about my own. Instead of me, Anna, it would have to be a tall redhead named Annie or Annushka or Anne-Laure having the fun. (I love the idea of Ms. Roach in bed, surrounded by sex books, laughing out loud.)

  14. “Upsuck” may well turn out to be scientifically valid. I bet there is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there. It may be that it just reduces the resistance to sperm travel, rather than blasting the matter into the womb at velocity.

    • I think so, too. I mean, if it’s true for pigs. I think their study was flawed. (But then again, maybe this is why some numbskulls believe that a woman can’t get pregnant from rape. Turns out, even during a rape, a woman’s body might orgasm even though her mind wants nothing to do with it. As you can imagine, this makes a horrible situation even worse and more confusing for the woman.)

  15. Ha. Before I read the end I had the thought that you never actually said anything about orgasms! It’s a political like post in that you announce you are going to talk about them, but then never REALLY do.

    And I really think you should post a warning on the video that it contains pig porn! LOL!

    • That’s as close as I could get autobiographically, Terre. I kept trying to get closer to the orgasm but it was like It’s like trying to push two magnets together: Will. Not. Go; must slip into fiction to proceed any further.

      I know, I know! The pig porn!!! Close up of the farmer’s wedding-banded hand fiddling withe the sow’s nipples! Nooooo!

  16. you are right. it is like a sneeze. faintly surprising. at least, for me.

  17. Love your openness about playfulness with this. Bravo! – Renee

  18. Wonderful post, Anna. Somehow all those O’s interspersed have so much meaning…
    A friend of mine used to have a book for children explaining sex, and it used a sneeze as part of the description for what it felt like. I wish I could remember the name of the book…

  19. Great post! And funny 🙂 I like to think I could write cheesy, romantic fiction, but I don’t think I’d be able to write the love scenes… I would just end up giggling.

  20. Todd

    Oh gee I missed this one.
    Seems like writing about coming is like “singing about architecture”… not the best medium. Maybe singing about it would work better… music must be more evocative, ditto ’bout Prince. Seems like if you’re gonna do a good job of talking about coming you just gotta go porno and smutty because that mind set, that framing and language is more representative of the feelings (why did that language evolve? do other cultures talk that way about it, or just our twisted up post-Catholic, good is bad society). Maybe it’s difficult to talk about because it difficult to talk about coming using polite language?

    • I think I’ll leave the writing-about-orgasms to my writer-friend Averil. My problem is not Catholic, it’s just agoraphobia. In the hands of someone like me, it’s just painful to read. Like I said, I bet dirty sounds good in French. And maybe Spanish. And I’m sure some other languages I don’t know about. When will I hand this painting over to you, btw?

  21. Todd

    Agoraphobic… you?! Really?
    It’s interesting to me how language affects thought and visa versa. I don’t mean all the “positive affirmation” and “nuero-linguistic programming” stuff, just that It seems like different languages really are somehow more conducive to different sensibilities. I don’t know about talking dirty but I have noticed that humor is different in Spanish than in English. I read somewhere (book called “Blink” maybe), that the funniest humor is mean. And I remember thinking that the humor in South America was so nice and boring, and when after months I got a letter from a friend back here, I laughed my ass off at his rotten, derisive humor…
    Art swap: We’ll be there a couple days before and after drunk bastard in a red suit day… in MV (mom), SF (Kim) and Oakland (Brooke). Will you be around… MV, Berkeley, etc?


  22. “The sound, smell, and taste of an orgasm is not unlike a sneeze. I think sneezes and orgasms must be sisters. Or maybe step-sisters, the orgasm being everybody’s favorite, the poor sneeze overlooked.” This has to be the best thing I have ever read! On a similar line to sneezing, I’ve always thought clitoral orgasms kinda feel like…peppery. It’s one of those mixing up of the senses things, like when people can smell colours and stuff. Hopefullly you understand and this isn’t just me having broken senses! Great piece of writing anyhow x

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