My fellow Americans—
How have your orgasms been lately? I mean in this administration? Ever since before the election, pussy has been on the collective American mind, because that man said it, he said “grab ‘em by the pussy,” and we are not meant to hear our falsely elected officials use that word. It does something to the psyche. It worms its way into our minds, into our beds, into our orgasms.
I’ve been thinking a lot over the last year or so—perhaps even too much—and I can’t help but rehash that most strange November night when I had been so happy, so elated, to think a woman would be entering the White House and, as such, had done what any normal person would and purchased a dozen pussy cupcakes from my local bakery—a dozen beautiful mouthfuls of pink icing with lovingly formed labia, dusted with edible glitter, a container of brown sprinkles on the side because the talented lady baker did not want to presume clean-shaven, wanted to provide the opportunity for a hairing of the delectable vulvas, if you will.
I had needed a gesture, something to feel in control after campaigns which had felt so out of control. I needed to feel that I owned the word, not him. This was my word.
This had to do with power, and me taking what I could, me wielding what I had, which was a dozen pussy cupcakes in a pink box.
I took that box to my house where I watched, with horror, the undoing of America. I ate my cupcake. I gave one to my son. My husband passed around a bottle of Trump champagne which he had thought would be a great joke but which turned out to be a horrible non-joke.
But then, afterward, after it was all over, I sat in a chair in a dark corner of the living room and cried. Because I’ve met the man who was elected—over and over I’ve met him in my life, and each time have felt small and powerless and enraged in his presence. I had no power, no voice, no cupcakes. And now this man would run the country.
Sure, there was the Million Woman March, the pussy hats, and that was great, but then it all began and it hasn’t stopped since, scandal after scandal, the parade of insults toward people of color, immigrants, the poor, and women (of course). There was threat of nuclear war. A rotating presidential cabinet with appointees entering and exiting at record pace. Stormy Daniels. And now, of course, Facebook and Russia and spies and people getting poisoned by Russian spies and Putin’s smug-ass face. And then there is everything else: Charlottesville, the rise of the far right, Neo-Nazis, too many school shootings to remember, bombings in Austin. I know I’ve left something—many things—out but perhaps I need to forget at least some of it in order to keep moving forward.
By the end of this man’s first year, I was filled with an anxiety so extreme it often rendered me inert, in bed, trying to fall asleep to escape. It was a problem, and so I did what any good American would do—I got a prescription for pills—and the pills have been very helpful but there is the matter of the possibility of sexual dysfunction, how pills that prevent the re-uptake of serotonin also prevent that big wave of pleasure to wash over you the way it once did—the tide is so very far out there—and you’re just in bed, waiting on it, you’re on the shore, and you can see it coming, oh it looks so beautiful, but you wait and wait and watch and the wave that promised to break arrives and it just tickles your toes a little and, excuse me, that is not an orgasm.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would like to talk about the female orgasm as it relates to these times we’re living in. I am wondering if politics affect your sex life. A writer friend of mine recently shared a piece she wrote that begins with a wet dream and I guess she would like to know, is this what we’re doing now? Grown women having wet dreams? And I said well, since you’re asking, yes. This is what we’re doing.
I had a dream a few nights ago I was in Pussy Land, an amusement park that was all about cunnilingus, and I mean, you can imagine it from there. And I had another wet dream in which I again slept with that one guy I once slept with because I was bored—he was a Starbucks barista—and I am, again, having uninspired sex with him and wondering why. And then, one night recently, I finally got a reprieve, and it was, deliciously, Donald Glover, but my brain somehow skipped over the sex, right to the post-coital talk, which was only Donald asking me “Did you fart during sex?” and me saying “Yes.”
What does this have to do with unions? I mean, what does it not have to do with unions? Our minds preoccupied and anxious, or bodies these flesh and bloody desire machines, acting out warped pleasures while we sleep.
I guess I’m interested in how the body reinforces what the mind can’t, how our desire still bubbles deep down inside us even when we cannot listen to one more single moment of the news. How we still desire goodness and truth and justice despite being assailed with evil and lies and cheating.
Another friend told me that I just needed to have more sex and the wet dreams would abate, and I have to admit I have been having less sex since the election. I have been, in a word, angry. I’ve started using words like “patriarchy” and “emotional labor.” I have begun writing a book about a pissed off stay-at-home mom who turns into a werewolf. I have thought deeply and darkly about my upbringing in a Mennonite family and how that has shaped the woman I’ve become. I have asked my successful woman friend for her suggestions as to what books I should read to be a more successful woman and she suggested books with titles like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and Drop the Ball, as in women need to drop the ball, we need to stop doing it all, we need to demand more from others, especially men.
So I did. I started demanding.
Emboldened by drink, I said to my husband, who is gone every week for work—who has been gone every week for work since the birth of our son four years ago—I said to him, drunkenly, “If this were really an equal marriage, you would do night-nights every night of the weekend since I do them every week night,” and instead of a fight, I got a simple and kind “You’re right.” And now he does nights-nights on the weekend, just like that. And then, not drunk if you can believe it, I told him we were going to read one chapter a week of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and then, on the weekends, go on a date and discuss said chapter, and he willingly purchased the book, no complaints.
Over the last two years, I have told all sorts of men all sorts of things: “No” and “That’s not my job” and “I require a larger fee to perform that task” and “I don’t have the time” and “You’ve been unclear” and “Maybe it’s time for you to just listen” and “I don’t like it when you use that word” and “I don’t think that joke is funny” and “If being a lesbian were a choice, I would choose to be a lesbian.”
Have we been bold enough? Angry enough? Pushy and uncompromising and loud enough? Perhaps there is a need to experiment in being all the ways we’ve been taught not to be. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between demanding more, putting up with less, and orgasms across America. Perhaps pleasure equals pleasure equals pleasure.
Who gets to be in charge? Who gets to be happy? Who gets to want more? Who gets to have it? I’ve been wanting answers to all my questions and what I’ve gotten is Black Lives Matter and calls for intersectionality and Moms Demand Action and upsets in elections in Alabama and Pennsylvania—we elected a damn democrat in Alabama—and the students of Parkland High starting a movement, one of the first things to give me hope in years, and we get Emma González’s gorgeously, gloriously shaven head, we get her words, her Hell Nos, and it’s nearly spring now, I just saw green shoots pushing through the dirt, and could it be that out of all of the anxiety and sleeplessness and deadened nerve-endings, the dread and rage of the last two years something new is rising, a wave if you will, off the shores of America. Could it be, we are looking out there at the water and it’s coming, this wave, toward all of us, something good, something big—perhaps Special Counsel Robert Mueller is up there surfing on top of it—and we are all here together, on the shore, gripping our prescriptions and cupcakes, our Trump-branded booze, our high thread count sheets and hand-knit hats, vibrators, protest signs, self-help books, dream dictionaries, we are gripping out loved ones more tightly than ever and waiting, waiting, watching the sun rise way over there, off the coast, a blazing ball of fire and light and sure, perhaps it’s our ending. Perhaps this is where the thing we call America ends, in a nuclear conflagration. But then again, if this is the hero’s journey—and we’re each here to be each other’s heroes—then after our collective death, we’ll rise again to build something new, together, on these shores.
Rumpus original art by Dara Herman Zierlein.