So. I found this handy post on Yes Means Yes. It’s about learning how to have orgasms (and a lot of other stuff, including some of the things that play into how and if women have orgasms, and how our culture’s narrow, c-dude-centric, definition of sex screws everybody up).
It’s good.
It’s long, so fair warning, but do go read it. The study-questions at the end are good to think about.

Anyway. The reason I’m drawing attention to the post is because it’s kind of prompted me to talk about my own experiences, and lack-there-of, with orgasms.

I can orgasm. I can mini-gasm. I can internal-earthquake-gasm. I can hit a high C above the staff if you hit my g-spot the right way.
But.
I also have fairly frequent vaginal/vulvic(?) pain during sex. Some of it, I know, is emotion-related and touches on shame and fear, both from my former marriage (which had a wodge of Problems that included sexual assault) and from my own issues (“issues?”) around maintaining control of my own body, not wanting to be messy, not wanting to be a “bad[1]” sexual partner, and so-on.
So orgasms, while they come, don’t typically come easily and I can more reliably (and more… emotionally comfortably?) get pleasure from riding the waves of my partner’s thrills than from being on the receiving end of things.

I’ve wondered, more than once, if that has to do with the relative safety/non-vulnerability of being the top. No-one is going to push me farther than I want to go; no-one is going to heap their hope in my lap (so to speak) and ask me to “do the honourable thing” and have an orgasm “for them[2]”. As long as I’m the one doing the Doing, I’m not going to end up re-playing those mental scripts that tell me A Good Girlfriend Has Orgasms; A Good Girlfriend Has Big, Obvious Orgasms; A Good Girlfriend Orgasms In A Timely Manner So Her Lover Doesn’t Get Tired or Disappointed.

It always feels so cut-and-dried, though I think that’s more a statement about the very either/or way my mind works (unfortunately) than a statement about the way things actually are.
I feel like, if I enjoy the way she nuzzles between my legs, if I enjoy giving my lover the opportunity to do something she loves to do, if I enjoy the way it feels when she sucks on my inner labia, if I enjoy having enough trust in her to decide “what the hell, let’s give this a shot”, if I enjoy kisses on my inner thighs… then I’m NOT supposed to simultaneously struggle with vaginal pain or messed-up emotional brain-tapes. That if I do struggle with those things, then I’m “lying” about enjoying the other stuff.

Which is a really rambling way of getting to my actual point, which is the initial reaction I had to the post, linked, above, when I started reading it.

Specifically: Sex – at least sex by the definition that most of us grow up internalizing – is always presented as being so goal-oriented. You know the sexual encounter is “done” when someone[3] has an orgasm; you know that sex (by that definition), and sexual interaction, are supposed to progress in a very linear fashion to that end-point; and you know that, every time you “level up” in terms of sexual repertoire, you “can’t” go back to only doing things up to the previous point.
It sucks, and it leads to anxiety-riddled and/or slightly sad sex for too many people.

What I want, and what I’m glad I have (brain-tapes aside) with my current partner, is for sex to be a much broader, much less orgasm-oriented experience.

Sex is lazily making out and exploring each others’ bodies when we’ve got tonnes of time to do it in
Sex is grinning at each other in the hardware store when we catch each other looking speculatively at the same kind of rope
Sex is her pressing her tongue into my hips til I’m gasping
Sex is locked eyes and hungry smiles across a crowded room
Sex is sucking on her tits while she gets herself off with a vibrator
Sex is her fingers in my cunt until I’m singing, or until I’m laughing too hard to keep going
Sex is body-sliding in the front hallway or on the massage-table
Sex is fingers brushed slowly across that spot on my lower back
Sex is my toes in her mouth while she lies on the kitchen floor
Sex is explicit text messages
Sex is biting her hard enough to leave marks for days
Sex is pulling her clit into my cunt, then sucking it into my mouth
Sex is holding hands, watching someone else get fucked in a dungeon
Sex is limbs tangled together, tearing each others clothes off
Sex is getting myself off with the shower head
Sex is reading porn to her over the phone
Sex is frotage until we’re both out of breath
Sex is fooling around in a secluded hot tub
Sex is how I feel when I wear that lingerie, or when she wears those jeans
Sex is a pointy knife traced the length of her spine

Orgasms can be involved, but they are so not required.

TTFN,
Ms Syren.

[1] Meaning, in this case, the kind of partner who – when said partner is me, at any rate – isn’t focused entirely on her (my) partner, either by focusing on their pleasure, or on actively making it known that she’s (I’m) enjoying what they’re doing to give pleasure to her (me). Why I feel like this, I have no fucking clue.

[2] Because I apparently think this is some sort of exchange: My partner “gives me” oral sex and I, therefore, “owe them” an orgasm. My thought-process is pretty messed up.

[5] The Man, if we’re going with the “traditional” definition of sex as being between two vanilla, hetero, c-people.