I never realized the connection between my vagina and my voice until I started researching orgasm at age 45. One of the most challenging things for me to do during my orgasm research was to speak up for myself. For years, I stayed quiet, whether it was about something that didn't feel good in bed or about someone who hurt me. I ignored the power and truth in my voice as much as I ignored the desires of my body.
I was a master at disconnecting from my body to protect myself from feeling any sensations which could cause me to remember the shame from a pattern of sexual assault beginning when I was young and continuing into my forties. At one point, I even lost my voice.
Tantra teacher Charles Muir said, "In America, most women make more sound eating their dessert than they do in orgasm."
When I started my orgasm research and forced myself to be present with my feelings and the sensations in my body, I finally had to give a voice to my orgasm too. She liked to speak up -- not too loudly -- but she wanted to be respected. By making noise through breath and sound, my orgasm and climax expanded. I realized that by staying quiet all those years, I was dishonoring my body and my voice.
The consequences of staying quiet can go way beyond having a satisfying orgasm.
In my book Autobiography of an Orgasm, I wrote candidly about my experience of being sexually assaulted many times and not speaking up because of the shame and judgment I knew I might face. It was something "we just don't talk about." I finally spoke up because I wanted to give a voice to the 6-year-old who was too confused and afraid to speak up. I also wanted to honor the 40-year-old woman in me that was raped during a party and still stayed quiet. I'm not too sure the man, who was intoxicated, thinks what he did was wrong, because I never said anything. It was another secret I would keep to myself until a few years later, when another friend mentioned that she felt she had been raped by him too. I wondered, what if I spoke up sooner? What if I said something to him so he knew his behavior was not acceptable? Maybe it would have saved my friend. Maybe it would have saved others.
It's estimated that 90% of acquaintance rapes don't speak up.
One of the letters I received from a woman who read Autobiography of an Orgasm described her disconnection from her body after rape and assault in college:
I can't even begin to express how much I was affected by your book. It brought up so much for me. I have never seen myself as worthy of enjoying life in general and being sexually satisfied was definitely not even a blip on my radar. My mother was hateful and angry all the time from being raped in her youth, and so I grew up always hearing about how horrible men were. Then I went off to college where I was held in a frat boy's room against my will where numerous guys molested me, followed by laughter and mocking. The icing on the cake was that they used razors to cut me so I would be ugly to everyone else. They said they would be the only people that would want to see me naked. I am covered in scars and for a long time I believed them and if I am being honest I guess I still do. I don't talk about this story very much (pretty much never) so it is surprising me that I am telling it to you now.
The poet Maya Angelou wrote, "I come as one, but I stand as 10,000."
We as women -- and the men who love us -- can't afford to not speak up anymore. We need to remember our bodies as sacred no matter what has happened to us. And we need to remember to choose love over fear when making a decision on whether to reveal ourselves.
I am done being quiet. The only way to honor my body is to speak up and make noise, whether it's to stop the ongoing assault of girls and women, or to bring my orgasm to climax.