Episode 13: Power Dynamics and Sex

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Simple physical contact between two people can morph into so many things: love, pleasure, passion, power, physical connection or energetic release. The mix makes up the convoluted and often confusing dynamics of sex. For Harmony, sex was power. She got a rush out of controlling of her partner’s physical or emotional well being. It helped make up for an emptiness that she felt inside. Her brush with sexuality started at a young age. It would be many years before she would discover that the power she felt was empty, an illusion, like a mirage in the hot desert sun.


Power Dynamics and Sex

Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.


J: Hello, and welcome to A Taste of Sex, a reality audio show based on life in an orgasm-based community. I’m J. This week we examine the meaning of sex.


J: We all want sex. But what is it that we want? And what, realistically, can sex really provide? Simple physical contact between two people can morph into so many things: love, pleasure, passion, power, physical connection, or energetic release. The mix makes up the convoluted and often confusing dynamics of sex. For Harmony, sex was power. She got a rush out of controlling her partner’s physical and emotional well-being. It helped make up for an emptiness that she felt inside. Her brush with sexuality started at a young age. It would be many years before she would discover that its power was empty, an illusion, like a mirage in the hot desert sun. Join us this week, tune in, and turn on.


Harmony: I’ve always been a really sexually charged person. I have sexual memories from the time I was about five years old. I did all the doctor play, ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’. My mother kept a vibrator by her bed. I think I discovered it when I was eight or nine. And my father had stacks of Playboys that must have spanned the last 20 years. One summer my mother and I were in-between houses, a kind of common state for us. And we went to stay with an ex-boyfriend of hers, who then became a current boyfriend, for convenience. I remember her cooking these elaborate meals, and she made me clean the house, and kept reminding me that we were staying with Paul for free, so I felt the obligation. Paul would come on to me, touch me in that passing ‘pretend to be casual but still sexual’ way, and I said nothing. And then once, it definitely was not nothing. I felt frozen in time. He was stroking my breasts softly, and I felt transfixed. I couldn’t take it. I stood up; I went into the kitchen for a drink and came back as if nothing had happened, but sat where he could not reach me. I couldn’t tell my mother; how would I start a conversation like that?

Paul’s nephew from Florida came to stay for a few weeks. So he shows up with his surfboards and his self-confidence, and I set out to seduce him. He was 19 or so, in college. I was 14. I would stand in the living room after showering, dripping in a towel and combing out my long hair, talking on the phone to my best friend. I was hot, tall slender, tan. I could feel him watching me from the other room, and I loved that feeling of power over him. One night we got drunk; I had gin for the first time. I think we drank it straight. I ended up lying naked across his lap, splayed out like a dish, and I remember him saying, “Oh my God, oh my God.” I remember his heavy eyelids and bronzed skin in the moonlight from the window. He looked like an idol. In those moments I felt beautiful and perfect. And he touched me. He put his fingers inside me. I remember him apologizing to me for not knowing how to do it better. But I didn’t care; I was thrilled. I thought, “It’s happening.” I touched his cock, the first time I held someone’s penis in my hands. I didn’t know what to do with it. I remember thinking about some mucous membrane, the sea cucumber. And if you squeeze a sea cucumber it squirts a long stream of water, so it’s an apt analogy. I sucked his cock that night, and I couldn’t have been very good at it, but he went wild anyways, and moaned more oh-my-God’s, oh-my-God’s, before pushing me away and ejaculating into the air. And I watched it with fascination. When it came down to it, I didn’t actually like him. I didn’t think he was smart. I had read more and better books, my gauge for intelligence back then. But even so, he was cool, and handsome, and I wanted him to want me. I knew that he was a catch on the mainland. I felt like he existed, he mattered, in a way that I did not. The boys in Hawaii at my school were not interested in me.

And earlier that summer was one of the hardest times of my life. I had gone to Florida to see my father. I would not see my father again for something like 12 years. When I actually succeeded in getting him to like me, it didn’t really count. He was leaving. He couldn’t save me, and he wouldn’t sleep with me. He didn’t want to take my virginity. He wanted me to be the good girl. He told me to be careful of all the guys out there who would take advantage of me.

I lost my virginity at the age of 15. I met this guy at a cool surfer party. He was 17 and beautiful, had this thin blonde hair that flopped into his eyes. And he was also tall and white and gangly, like me. I got drunk; otherwise I probably wouldn’t have talked to him at all. We were both painfully insecure. He told me later, in my drunkenness I sucked on his fingers and told him how much I wanted him. I didn’t believe him at the time. Now that I know myself a little better, I’m sure that it’s probably true. He skated and surfed and did everything with like not just gusto, but a deep aggression, commitment. When we went to concerts, he’d spend most of his time in the pit, and come out covered in sweat and sometimes blood. And when we made love he would drip sweat all over me; he could last forever. He would come, rest for a minute, and then keep going. He made jokes that for him it was like exercise. The sex felt good, but it didn’t do much for me. My mind was always dancing and I always wondered what he was thinking about. I would try to catch him off-guard, “What are you thinking right now?” He insisted that I stop asking. He said he wasn’t thinking about anything except what it felt like. And he said I should be thinking of anything either. “Just concentrate on it,” he’d tell me. He said we had to have sex once a day, no excuses. I could not say I didn’t feel like it. If I tried, we would fight, and then end up having sex anyways, so I quickly realized resistance was futile. I spent those first few months after losing my virginity so sore. I would come down to the pool in a bikini, rug burns on my spine, hickeys on my thighs… my mother would turn away. Eventually I wanted sex every day too. We had sex in wild places, not for kink but for necessity; there was nowhere to go. The exit stairwell of my apartment, or on the roof… I’m sure the security guards enjoyed that over their cameras. Or we would make love on the living room floor of my apartment, in front of the TV, me on top in one of my summer dresses. When we heard my mother’s key in the door, we’d pretend like we were just sitting and talking. He would wait ‘til she left the room, to button up his pants. Thinking back on it, I realize we probably didn’t fool her.

My next boyfriend was another beautiful man, an Afghan with dark skin and blue eyes, a really good surfer. I was always insecure because other women were so into him. He had a social life that I couldn’t participate in. He was older and I couldn’t go to bars. I did know exactly how to seduce him though; I would fight with him. If we got into a little wrestling scuffle, over the remote control, two minutes late he’d be ripping off my clothes. He was really rough, and often it scared me. I felt like I was under his power and it was deeply frightening.


J: You’ve been listening to A Taste of Sex. We’ll hear more from Harmony after this short break.


J: This is A Taste of Sex.

Harmony: My last relationship lasted five years. He was the one. We were perfect for each other. We could have fun just going to the grocery store, quibbling over which cereal to buy. We always held hands. We didn’t have to do anything; we could just walk around our neighborhood and talk. We were perfectly comfortable together. And we were perfectly bored. We just didn’t have sexual chemistry; I’m not really sure why. He was very handsome, and he always claimed to be attracted to me, but he never showed it. In the beginning I initiated everything. If I didn’t start something, then nothing happened. I would come on to him with everything I had, hoping that he would take over, but he never did. In the first few years I enjoyed it; I felt like the dominatrix. But then I grew bored and bitter. I wanted him to pull my clothes off. I wanted to be taken. I wanted to feel his desire. In the last years of our relationship, I just didn’t want sex anymore; it felt like work. I gave him oral sex because that was the easiest and the most-quickly over. And then in anger and frustration one night, I said, “I’m on strike.” We talked about this. We talked and talked, but we never really got through it. I took a business trip and I met this man who clearly wanted me. When he kissed me I felt my body respond, you know, soaking my panties. No one had kissed me with that much passion for years. But even still, I decided it wasn’t worth it, giving up my life, my comfort, my best friend.

In the end, my boyfriend left me. He fell in love with someone else, a woman he worked with, and they had sex, apparently great sex. He said she was more orgasmic than me. He had been frustrated because I didn’t have explosive going-over-the-top moments during sex. I told him how much I enjoyed it, how I felt it like a wave moving through me, with its crests and surges and its quiet moments. It didn’t matter. I remember the day he told me about this other woman. I wanted to know everything. How did he know she orgasmed? What did she feel? And everything he told me was like a knife in the heart. On the sidewalk I stepped over this stencil in paint-chalk. It said, “It’s okay to cry here.” And I did. I couldn’t stop. I sat on the stairs of someone’s flat and I cried and cried and cried.

I came to One Taste for a lot of reasons. And in the beginning I cited the generic sounds-good stuff, like wanting to be more alive, feel more, more connected to other people. I wanted to live in community. Those things are true, very true. But the big reason is I wanted to make peace with my sexuality. I wanted to find out whether I was broken. I wanted to find out if I could let go and just feel life. I sometimes think of this during orgasmic meditation. Oming is about surrender and going out of control. And I struggle with surrender. I don’t’ know how. It makes me so frustrated and angry. During the meditation I often feel like I’m knocking up against something, and it’s painful. It’s like a bird beating its heart out, you know stupidly trying to get through a glass window. I want to let go of this expectation, this frustration, this feeling that I’m just not good enough. That is what I’m working on now. During oming I try to imagine my nervous system like that of a sea anemone’s… the waves go in and out. They bring different sensations and nutrients. The anemone feels it all, drinks it all in without judgment. Before, sex was power and security. I loved feeling in control of someone else’s body. I loved pushing a man down on the bed, seeing their shock, like they never would have expected it from me. I would put a lot of energy into controlling the experience into what I believed the man wanted. Then I had him, I would think. He could never leave me. He won’t be able to give this up. Now I know that power and security are illusions. Oming has taught me to sink more into the sensation of sex. All the voices that torment me, the insecurities, the expectations, all these standards I’ve created for myself, go quiet. My mind becomes clear and focused on one thing only… what I’m feeling. In the heat of the moment, I’ve done things far beyond that which I think the me that is Harmony should or could do. I’ve done them with little or no second-guessing. All I think about is the sensation in that moment. I concentrate on it until I’m sharp and saintly like the blade of a knife. For someone who’s always questioning, always unsure, it’s such a relief to just know. My body knows. It’s open and vulnerable to every touch, and right in all its responses.


J: You’ve been listening to A Taste of Sex. You can find us on the web at www.PersonalLifeMedia.com. For more information about One Taste, check us out at www.OneTasteSF.com. Music on this episode was composed and performed by Aharone Bolsta. I’m J. Tune in and turn on.

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