The female orgasm, apparently, is a mysterious thing. How something that involves screaming at the top of one’s lungs, thrashing, bucking, spasming and waking all the neighbours in a one-mile radius with howls of “Oh god yes harder” can remain a mystery for long, I don’t know. People who say they’re going to talk about women’s orgasms often spend most of their time talking about flowers, candlelight, emotional unity, conversation and cuddling. (These things are nice – in the same way setting the table for dinner is nice, instead of eating straight out the pot at the stove – but don’t really address orgasms anymore than table décor addresses food.)
For hundreds of years, women’s orgasms weren’t recognised – by the establishment, one assumes. Surely plenty of healthy women out there knew they were on to a good thing. Women’s reputation for being “fickle” in the Renaissance probably wasn’t due to their tendency to seek flowers, candlelight, emotional unity, conversation and cuddling elsewhere. In the 1800s, women’s sexual excitement was diagnosed as “hysterical tension”. The medical treatment was what any of us would prescribe – a good fiddle – but that was far too dirty for women to do and would rot their brains. A midwife, or the doctor himself, would kindly oblige.
In the mid-1900s scientists were still insisting that women couldn’t come. (Fair enough. Think of the empirical basis for all science: the experiment. Now visualise a few scientists and what their results would be. It all begins to make sense.) If you’re curious about the history, you probably couldn’t do worse than read O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm by Jonathan Margolis. The same cheerful blindness to reality that brought you “hysterical tension” in the 1800s, brings you this in 2004: “It is axiomatic that women fall in love first and discover lust later, while men fall in lust and only subsequently learn to love.” Yeah, right. And we’re only trading sex for cuddles, and all that mind-blowing toe-curling multiple-orgasmic screaming means nothing to us, and playing with yourself really does make you go blind.
For us Lusties, though, orgasms are our stock-in-trade. Sex without that glorious culminating moment is a broken pencil. Just like the porn films, we always include the cum-shot… except it’s the woman’s cum-shot, and vive la différence. Without the actual shooting cum, however, describing it isn’t so neat. Oh, our male heroes can “spurt their seed”, “send a hot jet”, “pump their juices”, et cetera, usually with a groan / bellow / roar, but the heroine’s experiences are more various. (Not mysterious, mind. Various doesn’t mean mysterious. Fruit is various, yet remains obstinately straightforward.) On the physical level, yes, toes do curl, sweat beads, bodies clench into a spasm like rigor mortis, but it’s not de rigeur – and none of those guarantee The Moment. (Or Minute. Or Several-Minutes. Or Moment - Followed - By - Minute - Followed - By - Several - More - Moments - Followed - By - Long - Noisy - Timeless - Minutes... it’s great being a woman.)
A spurting cock is, objectively, an orgasm. A screaming flailing howling woman might have cramp, or be coming, or be faking it. (I tried faking an orgasm, once. It was so exciting I came.) Without the literal imagery to plant the flag at the peak, we slide into the metaphorical… If you’re in bed with a Lustie and ask her “what was it like?”, be prepared to pour a drink, light a cigar, and settle down for a few paragraphs.
It’s like light
His orgasm streamed through his shaft like a ray of pure light. He felt like he was giving birth to a rainbow. For a few moments, he felt ecstatic, drifting in a sea of colours. Then reality abruptly intruded. ~ Madelynne Ellis, Dark Designs
The brilliant light crashed over her, running through her veins, turning her into a burning sun, and still he kept stabbing into her. ~ Olivia Knight, Innana’s Temple
My orgasm came like a burst of light. It was white, it was golden – and it was not gentle. ~ Janine Ashbless, Sun Seeking
I fretted my clit until I came in great gulping breaths. All my nerve endings fizzed from top to toe. My calf muscles tensed with a sort of numbed electricity, face tingling as my orgasm shook. ~ Kristina Lloyd, Split
Kristina brings it nicely down to earth. Fretting your clit may not rot your brain, but metaphors can and before you know it you’re drowning in the deep seas of purple prose. I trod a fine line in The Ten Visions, with the excuse that it was all, at some level, literally happening. All the stops are out when Sarah and Adrian exchange their magical powers, fire and earth respectively…
It’s like the elements
Her mind filled with earthquakes, violent chasms swallowing trees, boulders thundering down storm-filled rivers, tree roots slowly tearing up the foundations of ancient buildings. Her whole body was arched, flung out beneath him. She dreamt again how the earth had crushed her once, trying to blot out the determined bright spot that she now knew had been her. This time, the same massive pressure was flowing into her and filling her. It was becoming her own strength. As she bucked her hips against her beloved, she felt her own fire and destruction licking through his veins. His head was flung back, his arms rippling with power as he supported his scorching plunges into her. Their orgasm flowed upwards through them, a volcanic fire erupting through their mouths as his lava flooded into her welcoming cave. ~ Olivia Knight, The Ten Visions
Erm, yes. I might not write that in cold blood, but cold-bloodedness has never been my flaw. Every time she comes, Sarah has visions – hence the title – mostly of a hut, but I believe that’s not common experience. Another madly metaphorical moment was, again, meant quite literally…
It’s like stars
They floated above the fires, meeting each other’s slams in perfect time, until – all their limbs stretched out, their muscles straining – like an eight-pointed star they pulsated together, beyond sound, feeling the bliss tearing at them. At the height which is usually agony, or frustration, or too soon subsiding into loss, they floated outside of themselves. They stood outside the world, hand in hand in the stars, looking into each other’s eyes and knowing that they, too, were made of stars. Around them, they heard strange deep chimes and gentle tinkling drifts, like harps, strings, and chimes, but far more than any of those. ~ Olivia Knight, The Ten Visions
And he released me, lifting me to my climax and I was tumbling fast and hard, coming over and over as everything around me dissolved. The walls went, the house too, and I was beyond the moors, lost in time and space, synapses firing, galaxies scattering, ego and sanity obliterated. ~ Kristina Lloyd, Split
The surprise of her teeth, sharp against his neck, stole his breath. His climax swelled, and burst like a nova. `Oh, yes!´ His legs buckled, even his as cock still pulsed. He collapsed onto his knees, cock shiny with ejaculate. ~ Madelynne Ellis, Broken Angel
Seeing stars – explosions – a bright light looming – in the end, they all point towards the oldest of metaphors, la petite mort:
It’s like death
It’s too much to bear. I black out. Crying his name… ~ Portia Da Costa, Public Domain
Funnily enough, it's not much like warm apple pie.
So… what’s it like for you? Which metaphors make you say “Yes – oh yes, yes, yes!” and which are as good as a cold shower? Which ones do you think of / see / feel but never read? And what favourite final scenes can you give us?