• Ana Del Castillo

The Case For Clitoral Stroking

And why it matters now more than ever

Photo by Ian Yeo on Unsplash

For several years, I was involved with the clit stroking cult, OneTaste, where I practiced something called Orgasmic Meditation.


For those who don’t know what Orgasmic Meditation is, it’s a mindfulness practice that emphasizes pleasure, specifically women’s or clitoris-having-people’s pleasure. It is a partnered practice where one person (“the stroker” — this can be a man, woman, or non-binary person) lightly strokes the clitoris of another person (“the strokee”) for 15 minutes with a lubricated finger. The practice invites both people to mindfully give in to the sensations and feelings that come up during the clitoral stimulation without the goal of climax. In fact, without any goal at all. It is a discovery in partnership.


I loved the practice then and still do. And in full disclosure, I am married to Ken Blackman, one of the early architects of the practice.


Why am I bringing this up?

OneTaste brought the practice of clitoral stimulation to the masses, and it has had so much bad press over the years that each time I watch a documentary or exposé on it, I get angry. Not because I care about OneTaste (I don’t). But because this practice holds the key to our untapped power and potential. At no other time in history has women’s¹ pleasure and sovereignty over their sexuality and bodies mattered more than it does right now.


Without hyperbole, the practice is revolutionary. OneTaste the company, however, is a shyster in guru clothing. So each documentary and exposé about OneTaste leaves a stinking shit-stain on the practice itself and shrouds it under a fecal smear that it doesn’t deserve.


Given the surface details of the practice, it makes sense why documentaries and exposés get it wrong and present Orgasmic Meditation (OM) like it’s some perverted, dangerous activity they have to play ominous music under with voice-overs dripping with peril.


Clitoral stroking is an out-of-the-box, out-of-the-mainstream partnered practice involving partial nudity, clitoral stimulation, and women’s pleasure for pleasure’s sake. And anything having to do with women’s sexuality that is not centered around cis-hetero men’s pleasure threatens the status quo and has people scratch their heads and say, “well then, what’s the point?”


When you factor in that Nicole Daedone, the founder and CEO of the company, and the organization OneTaste (OT) are, in fact, guilty of some awful and messed-up behavior, it adds up to why (lazy) producers spin OM in such a negative, sensationalized way.


But with all the exposure that OT and the practice have gotten, I haven’t once heard someone eloquently explain why this practice matters and why it significantly impacted so many people. Especially women.


Like many, I was trained at a very young age that my body, my sex — my whole being — was men’s first before it was ever mine.


At five, my father raped me. The beatings began almost immediately after. That started a trackable slime-trail of violations and abusive experiences that stopped when I discovered I could turn the power of my sex, youth, and rage against men.

And that was fun for a while, but it certainly didn’t give me ownership of my sexuality and pleasure. How could it? A praying mantis doesn’t fuck and feed for pleasure; it fucks for survival.


But as I got older, and long before I came to OT, I realized that having my sexuality wrapped so holistically around the rage I felt for men tied me to the brutes I was trying to punish and destroy.


So I went about the work to fix that. And fix that I did with lots of therapy, and —

Tantra, EMDR, rebirthing, meditation, energy work, Landmark, yoga, Reiki, Shibari, dance, CBT, Gestalt, drama therapy, IFS, and breathwork, and and and and and and and and.


You name it, I did it. All amazing and helpful, but in the parlance of OT, I was trying to get on the spot. And for me, all of that was not the spot.


It was after decades of reclaiming and rebuilding a lot of the power and neuronal pathways that had been lost to me that I found clitoral stroking.


More accurately, it was after I learned about clitoral stroking from Mama Gena’s (Regina Thomashauer) book, “Pussy; a Reclamation.” And while she spoke at length in her book about her School For Womanly Arts, it was the clitoral stroking practice that she learned at Lafayette Morehouse— a San Francisco-based intentional community founded in the late ’60s by “responsible hedonists” studying the nature of pleasurable group living — that I wanted.


I googled Lafayette Morehouse, and while I was intrigued (and a little horrified) by the purple-clothing-wearing people living in a sex commune exploring pleasure, I lived in NY, so flying to SF for an intro class was unrealistic.


Eventually, my search led me to OneTaste (OT) and Orgasmic Meditation (OM). I went to an intro to OM class in OT’s New York center a month later, and the following week, I had my first OM.


That was over five years ago, and since then, I have been OMing — my husband and I call it “getting stroked” — regularly, from a few times a day to once weekly. It is one of my wellness practices, and it’s folded into my life the way a walk after dinner or drinking lots of water is.


What do I get from the practice?

  1. I get a more palpable felt sense of my authentic self. I get a fundamental, everyday understanding and awareness of what is me and mine, and what is not me or mine, right in the place I live and breathe — in my sexuality, on my clit, deep inside the spot that we sense and feel but can never see, like a pea under 20 mattresses.

  2. It strips me ongoing of my patriarchal conditioning and systematically makes the things in my life that I have been trained to be tolerant of wholly and utterly intolerable.

And painfully, that was a lot of my life when I started this practice.

I didn’t feel much in my first few OMs. By my 3rd, my pussy came to life, and as soon as that OM was over, I asked the guy if he would be my stroking partner, and he said yes.


By the way, my stroking partner was a man I couldn’t stand as soon as I laid eyes on him. In my mind, he was all the things I found unattractive in a man; he was too short, anxious like a manic squirrel, and talked too much. He also seemed to have some developmental issues I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And he was built like a 15-year-old in a 60-year-old’s body.


But my body was a clear & overwhelming yes to him before we even got into the OM nest, so much so that I couldn’t deny it.


If having the courage to learn and actually do this practice was the first crack in the foundation holding my ‘looks-great-on-paper-but-feels-awful-as-fuck-in-my-body” life together, my body’s choosing him as my stroking partner, and me aligning with my body’s choice, was the next crack.


This is part of the design of this practice; it breaks up all the social conditioning about what we are supposed to want and leaves us bare to what we actually want.

It undermines and dismantles, in the most piercing, no-bullshit, subversive and gentle way, the baked-in patriarchal conditioning that has women co-dependently tuned into the needs, wants, and expectations of others while unconsciously ignoring their own needs, wants, and desires completely.


This practice turns all our power, energy, and attention that’s been redirected away and puts it squarely back on us, where it belongs, funneling it into un-ignorable desire.

 

I am now going to write something so trite it pains me: sexuality is complicated.

When my father raped me, my five-year-old body and sexuality didn’t know where it ended, and others began. In addition to the genuine pain and an almost unimaginable terror I felt, my body also experienced a pulsing response to the sexual stimuli.


That involuntary response on my body’s part tortured me for decades. The logic my unsophisticated 5-year-old self came up with was that my father’s behavior was my fault. As an adult, conceptually, I understood it wasn’t. But my understanding — all the books, the classes, the therapies, the healers, energy work, retreats, workshops, and ecstatic dances — was never going to untie that somatic knot for me. Especially given that, as Germaine Greer says, we live in a world where women are blamed for other people’s bad behavior. If we get hit, we did something to provoke them, and if we get raped, we did something to excite them.


But it’s important to note that I was not a wounded sexual being when I started this practice. I walked into OT a confident woman, responsible for and in charge of my sexuality; I was, and still am, the kind of woman who speaks up in bed, in my relationships, and my life.


But my confidence, in fact, the best of me, never touched the place I needed to have penetrated.


So for me, there was only one way I was going to separate the soldering of my sexuality from my fight-flight-terror, and that was in a controlled, 15-minute, partnered, and structured practice like OM.


Because even though the practice involves sexuality and makes the sex you do have much better, OM is not a sex practice.


OM is not foreplay or a prelude to sex. It is a contained act with a clear beginning, middle, and end focused solely on clitoral pleasure.


It’s not a way to get a woman so turned on that it makes her want to have sex with the person stroking her, although sometimes that did happen. Sometimes I would get so turned on that it made me want to have sex with the person stroking me. But that in and of itself was a miracle to me.


As I mentioned, it is a partnered practice. And that component is vital.

Tantra, another slow, meditative partnered practice, is about moving sexual energy and bringing together spirituality and sexuality to emphasize the importance of intimacy during a sexual experience. OM is that as well, but it’s a practice where two people exclusively focus on and co-experience a woman’s bodily pleasure through her clit — ongoing — with no expectation that her partner’s genitals ever have to get involved.


That is the point of the practice.

Experiencing my sexuality, orgasm, and desire to have sex without the external or internal pressure of needing to focus on another person, or reciprocate, was freeing. And I got to experience that ongoing with a man not only in the room but with him stroking my clit and giving me and my pussy pleasure.


I had to speak up and adjust the person stroking me to the spot of most sensation. As a woman trained to be ‘nice,’ that shit is hard. Most of us have been habituated away from our gratification to such a degree that discovering the place that feels good on our clit is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Since the practice is set up where I have to use someone else’s finger to do the exploring, each time I speak up, I work through the learned compulsion to not be a ‘pain in the ass’ or ‘go with the flow’ and skip over myself.


Our clits don’t lie, so going with the flow and skipping over oneself doesn’t fly in OM. We’re either on the spot or not. Period.

That’s how exacting our pleasure and our clits are.

This practice also somatically unwound my nervous system from its frozen survival state to one that could surrender, give up control, and take in pleasure at a core level.


It taught my body to experience desire without the fear, guilt, dread, or anxiety that something terrible would happen to it, in doable, 15-minute increments.

And to state the obvious, I also got to have incredible orgasms.

I got to become a connoisseur of my sex. I got to discover what it likes and doesn’t like and how voracious and precise it is.

For example:

  1. A millimeter to the left or right sometimes changed the sensation so much it would rocket up the pleasure or drop it altogether.

  2. A hair more or less pressure would sometimes be the difference between an otherworldly and sublime feeling or a painful jagged glass-like experience of being scratched from the inside out.

  3. The barest of flicks over and over could create the most transcendent phenomenon of being brought to the edge of going over into climax, with the exquisite desire to be held there indefinitely.

  4. The indescribable connection to the person stroking me, as though we’re both listening to the same music, leaning and swaying to the pulse and movement between us.

I got this and much more without the complications or challenges of a relationship, sex, romance, or love.


Here’s The Reason Why This Matters

It’s been over five years since my first OM. When I started, like many women, I was successful but unhappy, but my external success and my debilitated inner trust made me afraid to shift things, so I felt handcuffed to the life I had created.

Five years ago, I was working at a corporate job I had been at for over fifteen years and had hated for at least ten of those years; I had a successful side hustle that made me a good chunk of money, but my whole life was sucking me dry; I was dating again after being out of the scene for over 15 years, and I was living in a city I was done with but couldn’t see my way to leave. I was intensely lonely while surrounded by people and friends.


One year after I started this practice, almost to the day, I left my corporate job, sold my apartment, liquidated my side hustle, closed out my car lease, said goodbye to my friends, and moved across the United States. And five years later, my life is vastly better than it was — I am married to my best friend and partner and happier than I have ever been. I am doing work I love and that is my purpose. I am aligned with who I am, and I am at peace and in command of myself in a way that was impossible before.


That is what a practice of telling the truth at the level of one’s pussy and clit can do.

And that kind of truth and power is what is desperately needed right now.

So much of women’s empowerment, energy, and focus is in response and reaction to men. Of course, it is! We constantly fight to get what’s ours from a patriarchal system that holds all the power.


But in this practice, we get to bodily and somatically learn how to speak up and stand for our pleasure, trust the unknowable-but-felt inside ourselves, and speak up for our needs, our sex, and our very self. Not by fighting someone outside us to ‘get ours,’ but by confronting in ourselves what it takes to have what’s already ours.

It teaches us how to own ourselves and our real power. And it does that by breaking up the profoundly ingrained, default victim role in our bodies.


For literally thousands of people, OM was and is a singular and phenomenal vehicle to learn how to connect deeply, sexually, and intimately with oneself, IN partnership, without the complications of actual sex and the inseparable and co-dependent pressures of the male gaze and its propensity to consume.


Which Brings Me To Why I Am Angry.

Photo by Caroline O’Brien on Unsplash


Nicole Daedone did not invent clitoral stroking — clitoral stroking has been around for more than 50 years as its own valid and complete sex act.

And OT is undoubtedly not the first company to exploit this practice, women or women’s desire, for money or fame.


But because the media stories about OT are accurate — I was heavily involved with OneTaste and working and living on their main property when the shit hit the fan with the Bloomberg article. I experienced all the addictive and dysfunctional highs and lows with OT that every piece, both positive and negative, talks about in detail. And I volunteered at the center, saw their shady sales practices firsthand, and witnessed how they used people’s vulnerabilities against them to pitch and fill their courses.


And so OT’s downfall is clitoral stroking’s downfall.

And that is what’s infuriating and heartbreaking to me. Because I bought into Nicole’s dream of OM being as accepted and widespread as yoga. We all did — it’s a great dream!


For a moment, I want you to imagine a world where women had an accepted daily practice of discovering the truth at the level of their pussy and clit.

Imagine a world where women everywhere had access to their authentic power and began creating change at that level.


Imagine a world where women’s exclusive and co-dependent focus on the needs of others was pleasurably shifted and alchemized to focus on and include themselves.

Imagine a world where women’s pleasure was prioritized, first for themselves and then by their partners.


Imagine a world where women knew themselves, unabashedly spoke up for themselves and had a deep sense of worth and self-esteem at the most fundamental level.


Imagine a world where women—individually and collectively— overhauled the ingrained victim role conditioned into them and learned to own what was rightfully theirs.


Finally, imagine a world where women adjusted it to work and feel good for everyone.


Now imagine that world and compare it to where we are today, and you’ll begin to understand why I am so pissed.


In everyday mundane and profound ways, there is a direct correlation between a woman’s co-dependent learned habit of denial and sacrifice and the supreme court’s decision to take away our bodily autonomy.


Both tell the world that we fundamentally don’t matter.


So while OT does not need defending, women and all bodies with uteruses and clits, do. Because our sovereignty, our bodies, and our sexuality will only be ours to the degree that we powerfully claim them.


And what better way to do that than with a 15-minute practice done in the privacy of our own homes.


So let’s metaphorically fuck the patriarchy where it matters and get on the spot! Let’s put the focus where it should be. Where it always should’ve been.


On us, on women, and on our inherent power.

 

Notes:

  1. When I refer to “women,” I mean ALL bodies with a clitoris, a uterus, and/or a pussy.

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