Last night I participated in a women’s pleasure circle (maybe a different name for a circle jerk? haha). It was inspired in part by Betty Dodson’s pleasure workshops and the BodySex film. But instead of a workshop with a “genital show-and-tell” and other workshop-y type things, last night involved movement and warming up mentally and physically, and a pleasure circle. The lovely Barbara Wynn facilitated and hosted five of us.
We started of by introducing ourselves, including how we were feeling and what we were hoping to get out of our experience. Yesterday I was feeling especially stressed out, from trying to decide what to do with moving and school, and also feeling disconnected from J. I have also been dealing with some, at times paralyzing, negative body image self-talk, and have been feeling pretty disconnected from myself in a positive way. I was hoping to use the experience to reconnect with myself and forget about those stressors for a bit. I was definitely pushing my comfort zone; even though I have been in plenty of exhibitionist and group sex spaces, I really wasn’t sure that I would be able to relax into a self-pleasure space in the presence of other people. I was reminded of one of the discussion questions from the BodySex screening- have you ever found yourself “performing” during sex? I really wanted to use my experience in the pleasure circle to have an authentic solo sex session, and I was nervous that my anticipated discomfort would mean I would be “performing” and not having genuine fun with myself.
We started off with a movement exercise, in which we simply moved around the space however it felt comfortable to us. I walked and stretched out my body (it was really tight and tense from working yesterday). We also paired up three different times and answered questions with our partner: what is something you love about your sexual being, describe a self love experience that was transformative in some way, and what do you do to get turned on? As we moved around, we were encouraged to peel off layers of clothes, and practiced soft looks instead of hard looks (basically, noticing and looking with curiosity and awe instead of judgement or criticism).
After getting warmed up, we regrouped. Many of us were down to bras and pants or bras and underwear. Barbara talked to us about her experience with communal masturbation and gave us an overview for how the pleasure circle would be facilitated after we took a break. She discussed the idea of the pleasure circle space as containing three concentric circles. If you decided to sit as far back as possible, you were in the outer ring and in the role of the witness. You could watch and observe what was going on. In the second ring, you were in an active, turning-yourself-on and acting-on-it space. In the third, middle ring, you would be in a “look at me!” space, celebrating yourself and wanting to be looked at and appreciated. She told us we could be in any of those places at any point throughout the time of the pleasure circle. It was nice to take a break after all of that to sort of mentally process everything and take time to pay attention to my hunger and thirst, and not worry about anything else going on.
Then, the pleasure circle got started. Barbara led us though some guided movement, asking us to experiment with different kinds of self-touch: light fingertips and caresses, scratches, grabbing, squeezing and pinching, pulling, slapping. She asked us to really notice what we liked and what turned us on. She asked us to feel our vulvas, to breathe deeply, and to pay attention. And then, she released us into the play session.
I had brought my glass dildo and my Hitachi and a bottle of lube, a blanket and pillow, and a towel. I noticed that it took a little longer than normal for me to get turned on and warmed up because I was a little uncomfortable at first in the space, and I think also because it was 83 degrees (which was amazing for my naked body), but I am also used to different temperature sensations on my skin (our apartment is usually between 60 and 65 degrees and I have grown to like the cold air on my skin). But, I eventually got into it. I was so surprised with how many orgasms I had. I lost count, because I decided to turn on off my cognitive processing for a bit, but I think it was around 10 or 12. It was amazing to me the high I could reach from allowing myself the time and space to get turned on, reach orgasm, rest for a minute, and do it over and over and over. I loved it. Being in a space with other turned-on, moaning, groaning, laughing women for an hour was a pretty awesome experience. It felt really freeing to just be responsible for myself, and to witness other women simply being responsible for themselves. We weren’t doing anything “for” each other, we weren’t having partnered sex. We were just in the presence of one another in self-pleasure. For the last five minutes or so, I simply laid on my back, closed me eyes, and drifted.
After we played for about an hour, we ended with a savasana and debriefed. I loved how meditative and peaceful, and happy, I felt.
Another participant said that the experience felt like it was something so old that her cells remembered it, but older than her brain could remember. I liked that sentiment a lot; it resonated with me. Also, I really loved what the space did for my body image. Seeing older women’s bodies, bigger women’s bodies, and smaller women’s bodies made me less fearful about my body changing and made me feel stronger in myself. And, I found myself so comfortable in that space by the end of it. It really is quite amazing to me what getting naked with people and being sexual in the same space will do for comfort. It makes a lot of sense to me that some of my closest friends are those that I have been sexual with, in some way. There just doesn’t seem to be anything quite as primal and authentic as sexual pleasuring.