By Toni Murphy

I had my first orgasm when I was 23 years old.

It was a Monday evening, I was in my purple dressing gown and hair wrapped up in a scarf. Unbeknownst that I was about to have my entire world changed with the help of a little pink machine and precision driven vibrations.

The Satisfyer had arrived earlier in the day. I was naturally very excited. 

The first time I had heard of this magnificent apparatus was during a festival in Spain. I was watching a procession down the streets of a tiny pueblo with my host family and a woman stood out, she was walking down with a Satisfyer made out of papier mache, bigger than her head. My host mother laughed and she asked if I knew what it was. I shook my head, I thought it looked like one of those portable fans. She explained that the Satisfyer had taken over Spain, a total gamechanger. I was intrigued.

I poured over the manual, played around with the buttons to get myself familiar and had a little giggle with how loud it could get. It was like listening to a jackhammer. Not ideal for a stealth wank but luckily the lower settings were more subtle and you could always use a pillow to muffle the sound.

The moment before my life changed was unremarkable. It was me shuffling around trying to get comfortable on the bed, trying to find that relaxed state that all the online magazines said was vital for cumming. Then trying to find just the right spot to aim those bad boy vibrations. After a few minutes, I was wondering where the fireworks were at. It felt nice but I didn’t feel like I was anywhere near finishing.

It came out of nowhere. One minute I’m laying on my back humming a tune and the next my toes are curled under, there’s a tightness in my stomach and it feels like I’m about to piss myself. But in a good way. I start shaking and it’s like my legs aren’t there anymore, a lightness takes over my body. My eyelids are flickering, I’m gripping the bed like my life depends on it and my breath is trapped, caught in this moment because I don’t want to let go because when I do it’s over. I wanted to ride this wave for as long as I physically could.

I eventually let out a long, deep sigh and crash back down to reality. It doesn’t feel real. I don’t feel real. So I lay there for a few moments in disbelief. Shook to the core.

I felt robbed. All those years without ever experiencing that feeling. I was pissed at the injustice of it all, so I went again. Just to make sure that it wasn’t beginner’s luck or some fluke. You have to remember this was the first time it had ever happened to me, and I didn’t want it to be the last. There was no way I was going back to how things were.

I used to think the only way to have an orgasm was through penetration. I blame all the porn and erotica I consumed when I was younger, they were largely told from a male perspective who let’s be real, most of the time have no idea how to make a woman cum or want to know how. There was nothing about female pleasure during sexual education classes and it wasn’t like I could ask anyone at home about it either.

Despite black girls being sexualised from a young age we are not encouraged to explore our sexuality, and when we do we’re seen as ‘too fast’ or ‘too grown’. We’re shamed into ‘acting our age’ even though we have men twice our age harassing and chasing after us. There’s no conversations about developing healthy sexual behaviours. I had to learn a lot from the internet, which we all know is a wormhole of misconceptions and pumpkin spiced lies.

I remember one day, when I was a teenager I got caught masturbating by my mum. I was so embarrassed but instead of having a healthy conversation about it, I was made to feel ashamed. I was told girls don’t do that, and was made to feel like I was disgusting for even thinking about it. In my culture, there is a huge stigma around female masturbation and oral sex. It’s seen as dirty, something that black women should not be doing. That was the environment that my mum grew up in and was passed down from generation to generation. As a consequence groups of grown black women are navigating adult life with little to no confidence when it comes to exploring their sexuality. 

That experience with my mum stayed with me because I never wanted to masturbate again. I carried around this shame and guilt with me for a long time. I would even take pride in not masturbating and would tell my friends that it was because ‘I preferred the real deal’ when in reality it was because I felt ashamed. I didn’t feel like it was something I could do.

I would feel weird whenever my friends would talk about orgasms or masurbating because I didn’t know how to do either. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to pleasure myself. I felt deeply uncomfortable whenever I touched myself and I got frustrated and upset that I wasn’t enjoying it. I felt like a freak. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even let my partners try. Foreplay was strictly boob action, dry humping or the odd finger. The guilt and shame was so much that eventually I figured it was too late and I accepted that I would never have an orgasm or feel comfortable masturbating.

I still enjoyed sex but I always felt like something was missing. I was comfortable with being a sexual person, but I wasn’t okay with looking beyond that and exploring what I actually liked and wanted. A part of me was still seeing sex through a male gaze. What the woman wanted didn’t matter. What I wanted didn’t matter. And it all goes back to the early conversations I had around sex and sexuality.

Those early experiences defined me in ways that were detrimental to my own happiness, and they paved the way for sexual relationships that were unfulfilling and cumless. Imagine, in my early twenties and I was afraid to touch myself. Brainwashed into thinking that the only way I could have pleasure was at the hands of a man. Condemned for touching the body that is rightfully mine. Humiliated for wanting to feel good.

Let’s lead by example and encourage healthy conversations around masturbation and sex. It’s supposed to feel good for men and women. If I caught my child, like my mum had, I would handle things differently. I know how important exploring yourself is and creating that safe space early on, will lay the foundations for healthy relationships in the future. 

Let people cum in peace – it’s healthy!