When Is It OK To Say “Orgasm”?

orgasm African

During the holidays, I was invited to the party of a friend of a friend. My friend had introduced me to this man because she thought we might hook up… It soon became obvious that he and I just weren’t feelin’ it, but he was a nice person, and I invited him to some get-togethers at my home.  One thing he knew about my friend and learned about me is that we are both human sexuality teachers who are comfortable talking about sex. Plus my friend is a spirited Brazilian woman, and we love to dance.  Par-tay!

We arrived early to help set up food and get some wine flowing.  When about a dozen people were there, our host asked us to gather ‘round.  He showed us a kind of shrine to his deceased parents and tied their story to an Egyptian painting that hung above the shrine.  I’m not sure if it was a replica of a famous work or if ancient Egyptian art just tends to include sharp-faced dogs and men walking with stiff legs.  The painting had many characters, whom he thought of as various incarnations of his family members.  You could tell he’d been a history teacher.  My feet in their party heels quietly began to pass notes to each other.

 orgasm Egyptian

Finally he asked us to hold hands in a circle and share our per­­­spectives on the departing year 2012.  People expressed gratitude for their health or sorrow over a loss they’d suffered.  When it came to my friend, she spoke of her worry about her aging mother in Brazil.  But ever the optimist, she added, with her charming accent and a twinkle in her eye, that 2012 had been a good year for orgasms.  I couldn’t observe everyone at once, but I did catch a few smiles and titters.  And then more people arrived and we celebrated, with music, potluck, some folks playing cards, others talking or dancing.  We ended up staying rather late and having a good time.

orgasm black male

Imagine my surprise when I invited my friend and her friend to another gathering at my house, at which her friend proceeded to tell us that her orgasm comment had been inappropriate.  His reason?  “Most of the people at my party were African-American, African-Americans tend to be churchy, and we just don’t talk like that.”

Excuse me?  I don’t mean to tread on anyone’s cultural perceptions here, but this was not my first time at the party.  Even the mostly African-American party.  I’ve observed that not all black people believe or act the same.  I recalled a lunch with an African-American woman friend who shared openly with the group that she had spent the afternoon in bed with her vibrator.  You go, girl!

He’d invited us to a party, not a class or a prayer circle. Everyone was adult. I can’t help but wonder what else might have been behind his discomfort. Was it the beatific smile of his mother’s photo looking on?  Was he jealous that none of those good orgasms was with him?  And did he similarly chastise his male friend who hit on women by lying about working for the FBI?


I’m sorry to say that he and I had a rather spirited disagreement, and we’ve had no contact since.  Sure, I was defending my friend, but I was also standing for two ideas.  One is that it’s prejudice to assume that all members of a group, even our ‘own’ group, think the same.  The other is that it’s time to stop treating sexuality as a second-class citizen, unworthy to pass our lips unless in crude locker-room jokes, and perhaps even to take a lesson from the ancients, who exalted it as the sacred source of life. 


Licking the Spoon, my book in progress about food, sex and relationship, discusses the language of sex and how it can make or break a romantic interlude.

orgasm Indian

86 thoughts on “When Is It OK To Say “Orgasm”?

  1. It was well written, my friend and well said!! I am still laughing about it!!! Hahaha… we really must stop treating sexuality as something sinful!! I totally agree with you… it just perpetuates ignorance about what sexuality really is: “It is the central aspect of being human throughout life”… in fact, sexuality is a beautiful thing if we just embrace it with responsibility (just like anything else)!!! Gosh… when we are going to change this close minded view that just brings frustrations and lack of self expression!!! Wow…

    • I know, it is sad that somehow it’s OK to speak openly about almost anything except sexuality… Still very Victorian of us, in spite of thinking we’re so ‘modern.’ Thanks for reading, Naluce!

    • I know! They published before I did! It’s a very different kind of book, though. I may change my title, but sometimes books are published with the same title. Thanks for thinking of me! If you want to sign up to follow my blog, you’ll find out when it gets published.

  2. From my perspective the most righteous act is for people to speak for themselves, as for one man to label a specific group or ethnicity with a stereotypical perspective or trait is just as “inappropriate” as speaking openly about sex in front of a possibly conservative audience.

  3. Our society has a norm that sex has to be top secret. Once that secret is spilled, society usually generalizes and shames those who speak of it. I agree that it is ignorant to claim that sex is an absurd topic to talk about pertaining to a particular race. How else would mankind survive all these years? Everyone has to engage in sex for our sole existence.

  4. Many people at this day are not comfortable with sexuality. We should be able to talk about it openly especially too children because we are seeing more and more younger children (Girls) becoming pregnant. I believe if parents were more open to sex and their knowing they were once young they would give their child at an appropriate age the SEX talk then we would not be shocked when we hear sex talk.

  5. This article is really awesome to read!!! I do felt it is really uncomfertible to talk about sexuality when I was in China. I do believe that environment does effect what i believe. 🙂

  6. Hi Professor
    Another awesome post. Your posts just keep me entertained and your stories are awesome. I’m going to read all of them!!! Also, I can’t wait for more posts in the future.

  7. I absolutely agree that the topic of Sexuality should not be treated like a “second-class citizen.” It is pretty strange how some find it awkward to discuss it when sexuality is such a normal thing in life. Of course some restrictions should remain, but when in a open room full of adults who are mature, why not have a discussion about sexuality! Love this post Professor!

  8. Totally agree with you professor, when were outside of your class waiting for you a few of the other students and I speak freely about sex and it didn’t seem to bother anyone

  9. I like the people or students comments, but the whole point of this article, you learn something from it and there are people that won’t like it or others do, but it is the reality of life and sex and among other things too, but this is about sex. I think personally it is good to learn and get educated from it.

  10. People need to stop treating sex like it is something bad. We all have sex and enjoy it so why not talk about it ? Share experiences without it being a sinful thing or something that is frowned upon.

  11. I always think that it is ridiculous to prejudice people based on categories like color, gender, etc. I believe differences between people within any given category are much greater than differences between groups. And I also think that if people get educated more about sex, they are more likely to have a more positive and open attitude towards talking about sex.

  12. I think sexuality should not be regarded as sinful;however, it should be practiced safely. It is important to educate children at a young age about sexuality. I’m sure it would avoid unwanted pregnancies and dangerous STDS

  13. Really it was an adult party I think he was probably just jealous that your friend had a better year than he did YOLO!

  14. I don’t think orgasm is a shameful word at all. Life would be so much more different (enjoyable, I think) if people treated sex as a healthy, enjoyable, and fulfilling part of life. Instead of treating it like it’s something to be ashamed of :\

  15. HAHA that guy seriously needed to get laid. It’s pretty clear that his bad attitude and assumptions come from sexual frustration! I love that you stood up against him, because more people need to be aware that sex as a topic is becoming more and more typical every day!

  16. I think in certain parties, the word orgasm isn’t usually mentioned that is probably why one might consider it inappropriate. Like, my family and I are considered avid Catholics and it would really surprise us if one of our relatives or friends just mentions the word orgasm. But, i don’t think we would consider it inappropriate since everyone is subjective on how they want to talk about sex. Great article, btw.

  17. What I find saddening is besides the fact that he was an educated adult and despite teaching human sexuality your friend’s friend was uncomfortable talking about orgasms. Thats absolutely ridiculous! I wonder how he teaches his class. Anyways, Im glad you took a stand and told him a piece of your mind. I hope he realizes not only how wrong he was but how prejudice his comment was.

  18. I believe it was the right thing to take a stand for your friend, because I believe this goes to show no matter how educated you are you can still be ignorant and this particular individual is a great example. I believe that the reason why he reacted the way he did was due to his lack of orgasms that year maybe, but he should act mature about it and just get over it.

  19. Nice article, and I think that everything would be so much simpler if people saw sex as an enjoyable and beautiful part of life, nothing to be ashamed of.

  20. It’a 2014 who cares about being hush hush over sex related words! we are all practically animals and gorillaz in bed. Most of everyone likes it, and we should flaunt it. Orgasm is a great word and something I hope everyone is able to experience.

  21. Good for you on speaking out! Sometimes I bite my tongue when I hear comments I disagree with but to hear stories like yours makes me feel like I should be more open!!
    great read!

  22. i love orgasms! haha its not a bad word! hello? people do it constantly, why are they acting like virgins haha i love how your so open about sexuality! makes life fun! 😉

  23. I always love to hear about other women in the world who don’t lie to themselves and the rest of the world admit they enjoy sex.

  24. You know, this reminds me of some of the conversations that I overhear right outside of class when we’re waiting for the door to be unlocked. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop on people, but hey, they were like a few feet away from me. I do think that there is nothing wrong with speaking freely about sexuality, as long as things don’t get out of hand.

  25. Very interesting! Makes me happy to know my parents taught me about sex at a young age. I’m so glad I’m so open about sex!

  26. sounds like you had a lot of festivities going on during those get-togethers haha. liked this one a lot! keep it up! (:

  27. I’m sorry you and your friend’s friend had a disagreement over something not very serious. But in class you’ve talked about how people just aren’t comfortable talking about sex or anything to do with sex, especially with religious people. But your friend did get some snickers out of it which wasn’t too bad.

  28. I completely agree that talking about sex is not such a big deal because one sex is talked everywhere. Just because someone is not comfortable does not mean that one has be quite and not express oneself, as she or he is entitled to.

  29. I think I know of this amazing Brazilian woman you speak of 😉 I could hear her voice through your recount of the night. I have no idea why that man would be so offended by sex talk. My friends and I always talk about sex. Granted most are females and homoesexual men. But have you ever noticed that many heterosexual males have difficulty talking about actual sex openly? Maybe not in high school when some are starting to get “some action”. Some guys are surely more reserved when it comes to the sex talk.

    • I think in another setting he might not have been SOOO offended. He thought of it as a spiritual setting, even though why should sex and spirituality be separate? In some cultures, sex WAS spirituality! Anyways, something he did admit later was that he was interested in my spicy Brazilian friend. So maybe that tells us something too. 🙂

  30. That was truly a great post! Before I say anything else, I would like to say that I totally agree with you in terms of not treating sexuality as a second class citizen and I definitely think that it is important for people to become better in communicating about sex. However, I can also see where the guy was coming from. I grew up with very traditional Asian parents and talking about sexuality in public is just terrifying to them. Fortunately, I’ve been slowly educating them about what I have learned in your Human Sexuality class and am proud to say that my mother said the word orgasm (in Chinese) for the first time in public a few weeks ago while we were having lunch with a family friend!

  31. I agree with the idea that people treat sexuality as this unholy sin. It’s part of human nature. Either except it or ignore the burning desires. And it’s funny how people seem to jump to the ceiling like a scared cat if you mention anything sexual openly in comparison to private, hush hush sounding like a dirty secret. I also appreciate you standing up for a friend because it shows a lot of character.

  32. This post made me so happy! I Feel the same exact way about the whole “conservative African American” thing. We’re all human and if I want to say something about sex… Then so be it! No need to get offended! Loved this post!

  33. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and such but that guy just seemed a little strange! It’s funny how people believe that one culture’s beliefs are above all else and should be respected at all times regardless of the person’s culture that is different! The word orgasm is not unholy and is an expression of no particular culture and is intertwined in everyone. Evolution brought us here and we should appreciate how we came about!

  34. I wonder if the orgasm comment made him uncomfortable because it was a woman saying it. I swear not every comment I make is going to scream feminism (ok it might who am I kidding here)! I am amazed that in the 21st century we still have such Victorian views on sex, sexuality, and talking about sex

  35. I will never completely understand why people get so offended by anything related to sex. It’s completely natural and normal. Everyone does it yet some people get so offended when it’s brought up. I’m glad I have a good group of girlfriends where we can talk openly about sex and nobody judges the other but instead listens and jokes about it. People are so close minded still. Grrr

  36. Very Interesting and very well said! I completely agree! My friends and I when we were in high school and even after (we have all since split up and moved to different states), we used to have puzzles and porn nights. We would all party and hang out and then we would put on porn and do puzzles, and all to see who would last. Most passed out and fell asleep. But that was my first taste of the party world.

  37. awesome article and its funny how still some people find it uncontrollable to talk abut sex when everyone does it

  38. this article is a great example of how shy or uncomfortable people can be to their sexuality or just sexuality of others in general

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