This Blog has moved – now a part of The Ladygarden Project

SexualSelf blog has been embraced by it’s mother: The Ladygarden Project!

This blog will now continue on The Ladygarden Project site and there are more pages to enjoy too including a Gallery, Events, and Links.

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Thanks to all who have visited this site and we look forward to welcoming you into the Ladygarden.



Big Sister

Betty Dodson has been called the “mother of masturbation”. Now in her 80s she has been teaching women how to touch themselves since before I was born and still offers insight and education through her one-to-one sessions, erotic art, and public podcasts. She is an incredible woman and I admire her greatly.

Betty started offering “self loving” workshops in America in the 1970s and published a book that she originally called “Liberating Masturbation”. Now called “Sex for One”, her book is still available – proving that the subject, and the need for information about it, are timeless.

Back in the 1970s women’s consciousness-raising groups were exploring all sorts of important subjects, with sex and sexuality being recognised as a vital part of what it is to be a woman. Fast forward 40 years and I feel our culture has regressed rather than progressed. Betty taught us to celebrate different body types, to embrace our sexuality, to teach our daughters (and our mothers) that orgasms are not a bonus extra – there are our right, and they are within our own reach.

Looking around me today I see such a narrow representation of what it is to be a sexual woman. We are merely scratching the surface with shows like “How to look good naked”. What about “How to be wild and passionate and not give two hoots about how you look because you feel good naked”? And where are our teachers? Betty is still doing her bit, and her fellow podcaster Carlin Ross is young and brilliant. They are also miles across the ocean from me.

 Coco de Mer in London offers a range of “educational Salons” on topics such as “Tricks to thrill a man”, “Japanese rope bondage” and “The art of attraction and seduction”. The salon concept dates back to the 18th century and Coco de Mer offers evenings with experts in their field, educating and entertaining the small groups of attendees. This sounds like it could be a great evening out in London, but sometimes it’s not enough to be the recipient of education, sometimes you need to get your hands dirty.

Masturbation is “the ongoing love affair that each of us has with our self throughout our lifetime.” (Betty Dodson, Self Loving: a guide to female sexuality and orgasm – dvd)

For many women, masturbation is a love affair that can be a source of shame. It can be a love affair that is sadly neglected, and maybe it is a love affair that is never even allowed to begin. But think about it: a love affair that can last a lifetime. No one else could promise us that. We have such power and joy literally at our fingertips!

So what does a woman do if she’s never had an orgasm? If she doesn’t know what feels good? If sex is frustrating at best and painful at worst? If she believes herself to be abnormal, or anorgasmic, or simply not sexual? Where can she go? Who can she ask for support?

If Betty Dodson is the mother, can I be the “big sister” of self loving? I want to help women to step into their sexual power, to learn about their bodies, to embrace their sexuality and, most importantly, to have joyful orgasms. The big question is: are we ready to be as brave and bold as Betty?

Cunt Monologue

There are seven of us in the room and the atmosphere is full of reluctance. We’ve just been asked “who would like to go first?” As common with many requests for a volunteer, the immediate response of most people is to look away, to shrink back, anything to make themself less obvious and so less likely to be chosen. I, however, meet the gaze of our mentor, smile and say, “I’ll do it.” The other women in the room are relieved; the men are intrigued and embarrassed.

            The task we’ve been set is to “show and tell”: to show our genitals and tell the group about our relationship with them. Anything we like. Anything that seems pertinent. Speaking about our genitals might be hard enough, but to show them too… The bed has been set up with a specially arranged mound of pillows to support the sitter in a comfortable, exposed position. I take my place at the head of the bed like a queen mounting her throne. I recline against the pillows, open my legs and reach down to part my labia. There it is; there I am. Fully on display. Our mentor encourages the group to look, to move into a position where they can see clearly. They gather at my feet. I smile encouragingly. I begin, “I love my cunt. My cunt and I are best friends.”

            Cunt, pussy, fanny, twat, punani, love mound, slit, flower, yoni, muff, vagina. I love the word ‘cunt’. There is a scene I love in the film “Boys on the Side” with Whoopi Goldberg, Mary-Louise Parker and Drew Barrymore. Whoopi plays the brash and outspoken lesbian, Jane, who has a crush on the shy and straight Robin, played by Mary-Louise. Jane finds out that Robin refers to her area “below the belly button” as her “hoo-hoo or cissy”:

JANE: You’re kidding, right?  A “hoo-hoo” or a “cissy,” what is that?

ROBIN: Well that’s what my mother called it.  I had a hoo-hoo or a cissy and my brother had a “noodle” or a “dingle.”

JANE: And that’s what you still call it?

ROBIN: Well, it’s better than “pussy.”  Or “beaver.”  What’s that about?  I never got that.  Or worse…

JANE: Worse?  Did you say worse?  Now, what could be worse? I have to hear you say it.

ROBIN: Well, you know.  I’m not going to say it.

JANE: Oh, come on!  “C-U-N-T.”  Come on, please? 

ROBIN: I don’t think so.

 JANE: Please?  It’ll free you.  Try it!

Robin ends up whispering the word and then, getting into her stride, says it louder and louder until she’s shouting and dancing out the word and both women are laughing. She is free.

            In my school playground the kids shouted “fanny” and “willy”: as in “show us yer fanny!” and “I’ll show you my willy!” Since then I’ve heard: dick, cock, trouser snake, man-meat, one-eyed monster, penis, rod, boner, knob, prick, to name but a few. Some of the words we use for genitals translate easily into swear words, always to be used derogatorily. For example, “Stop being such a prick!” All too often “cunt” is used as an insult. When someone tells me on the street, “You’re a cunt!” it’s never a compliment. But I have also been told by my lovers, “I love your cunt”, “Your cunt tastes so good”, “I want to fuck your cunt”.

Inga Muscio wrote a whole book about, and with the title, “cunt”. She says, “This book is about my reconciliation with the word and the anatomical jewel.”

"cunt" by inga muscio

It’s a good book, full of interesting and thoughtful insights about being a woman (or a man) in today’s mainly patriarchal world. “Cunt” used to be (a long, long time ago) a title of respect for women. Inga Muscio urges us to reclaim the word and give it back its reverence.

            Many of the words used to describe men’s genitals are strong, bold, powerful words: say the word “cock” and you can hear the hardness of the sounds that cause a tightening in the lips and the back of the throat. “Yoni, fanny, muff” are all much softer sounds that could be whispered in the background, never forcing their way into being heard, taking their place second in line. Say the word “cunt” and it is unmistakable. It starts with the same hard “c” sound as cock but then ends in a rounder, fuller, tone. The word purrs sex much more sensuously than a pussy ever could. Of course, sometimes the mood is playful and then words like muff and willy can come into their own. “Muff-diving” makes me giggle. Having a lover lick my cunt makes me moan.

            It may all be semantics, and it may all be a matter of personal choice, but I actively choose to use the word cunt. It is much more than a noun. My cunt is me. I am my cunt. It’s where I hold my power. When I call myself a cunt it is an expression of self-love.

            Back in the room and I am in full swing of my cunt monologue. I’ve told the group about how much pleasure my cunt brings me. I’ve explained to them why I would never shave or wax my pubic hair: I’m proud of my glossy pubes, the way they frame my beautiful cunt, and tell the world I am a (sexually) mature woman. I’ve spread my cunt lips and invited the group to look at my clit. No need for euphemisms: it’s not my pearl, my love button, or my flower bud. “Clit” is a word I can roll around my tongue. “Clitoris” is too formal, too scientific, too one-dimensional. But in its abbreviated form, the word is brought to life in all its engorged, swollen, reddening 3D glory.

            Later, alone in the room with a male, adult virgin, I will give him a tour of my cunt. Using all the correct scientific names, I will point out my labia, my vaginal opening, my clitoris; I will explain about the stiffening and wetting of a woman’s arousal; I will show him where and how I like to be touched; and, finally, I will invite him to touch me, to explore, to learn, and to share in the beauty and wondrousness of cunt.

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