When I was writing my memoir and people casually asked me the title, I avoided answering them. When some folks pointedly asked—even boldly insisted—on knowing what I planned to call my book. I buttoned my lips even more tightly.
I was simply too embarrassed to say the word “orgasm” out loud. And “orgasm” is in the title of my book.
Saying It Out Loud
How ludicrous is it for an author not to be able to speak the name of her book out loud?
Upon finishing the book and just before starting to work with an editor, I decided to make myself speak the name of the memoir out loud to someone. I hoped that if I could say the title aloud with at least one person listening, I would grow more comfortable sharing the title with others.
Soon after making that decision, I had the opportunity to meet representatives from an online self-publishing course. Aha! Who better to hear my book’s title than people who help other people publish books? So I chose a couple of staff members.
Perhaps unwisely, the two staff members I chose to tell were both men. Definitely unexpectedly, I sprang the title on them without preamble and with absolutely no warning. “Here’s the name of my book: Locusts Ate My Orgasms.”
One man’s eyebrows reached to the ceiling, as his eyes grew larger and larger and his mouth opened wider and wider. The other man stayed stoned faced, stared straight ahead, and then under his breath uttered the words, “No comment.”
Well, they’re men, I thought. Perhaps they were uncomfortable hearing the word “orgasm” spoken by a woman. I decided to tell another female next.
I picked a woman from a *recovery meeting*. I gave her a little bit of an introduction to the idea that the title was unusual. Then I said it out loud: Locusts Ate My Orgasms.
She blinked several times. She swallowed a few times. Then, after clearing her throat, she remarked, “Well, I’m sure you mean well.”
I didn’t know what she meant by that. I figured she didn’t know what my title meant either. So we were even.
What Will Others Think?
I didn’t drop the title on anyone else after that. I was afraid of negative reactions.
When it was time to choose a small group of beta readers to give me constructive feedback about my memoir prior to publication, I felt fairly comfortable sharing the title with them, mainly because I did so in written form. It was a lot easier typing out the word “orgasm” than it was saying it out loud.
Of course, these readers were not without their (written) reactions.
Most said that they liked the title. Some expressed concern that the title might keep Christians from reading my memoir. Others worried that survivors of abuse would be turned off by the name. Still others thought the word “orgasm” in the title would keep professionals from recommending the book to their clients.
Though I didn’t see a need to defend the title, I certainly had my own perspective about each of the objections they shared. II
First, I’m a Christian, and I read it. (I’m a Christian, and I wrote it!) Many of the beta readers I asked to preview the book were Christians, too. Though they were not personally troubled by the book’s name, they doubted that other *Christians would be accepting of it*. (Fancy that happening in among Christians.)
Second, I am a survivor of abuse. In recovery, I’ve come across many an unusually named book related to the subject of abuse and the process of healing from it. For me, it has always been the content of a book that affected my decision to read it, not its title.
Finally, regarding what professionals might do with the book, I had a fairly strong reaction. During my many years in recovery, professionals have recommended countless books to me. More than a few of those books had titles with crass and crude names for women’s body parts or shocking descriptions of the healing journey. But inside those books were words that spoke tenderly of women and respectfully of the challenges we face in recovery.
I laughed at the notion that professionals would not recommend a book because of its title. It happens all the time! In fact, I believed at the time (and still believe today) that the title of my memoir is far less objectionable than many other titles on the subject of abuse recovery.
Looking back, I find it interesting that though I carried my own personal, private perspective regarding each concern raised about the name of my memoir, I never argued my point of view with anyone.
Perhaps that was because one simple thought repeatedly reassured me that I was choosing the right moniker for my memoir . . .
God gave me the title for my book long before I even started writing it.
One Memoir Sparks Another
I remember the day that I stumbled on The Glass Castle by Jeanette Wells at my local library. I usually read juvenile fiction, but on that day, I felt drawn to a recommendation made by members of my library’s staff.
It was Wells’ story of parental dysfunction. I picked the book up to begin reading it and could not put it down.
As soon as I finished it, I knew I would write my own story one day.
For one thing, I believed that Jeanette Wells must have experienced great freedom from the shadows of her past by writing and publishing her story. I wanted that kind of freedom for myself.
Secondly, though our stories are vastly different, I knew I needed to share mine like she had shared hers. I believed it would help others. For years, whenever I shared even small pieces of my experiences, people would tell me they were encouraged by my words.
A time would come when I would need to get all of it written down so that it might be an even bigger encouragement to even more people.
At the time that I read The Glass Castle, I was in therapy to aid the *recovery of my sexual health* following years of sexual abuse. One of my assignments was to practice the *healthy masturbation* techniques outlined for me by specially-trained therapists. I did so. Though I was patient and diligent, I struggled to complete the exercises to a thorough and satisfactory end.
One morning, while thinking of all the things that abuse had stolen from me, I silently screamed my frustrations inside my mind, “Locusts ate my orgasms, too!”
At that very instant, I heard a soft whisper, “That will be the title of your book.”
I fell very quiet, still, and reverent.
That’s when I knew.
Locusts Ate My Orgasms was to be the title of the memoir that God would guide me to write—a story of the abuse I experienced and God’s redemption from the effects of it.
Still, I Didn’t Like Saying “Orgasm” Out Loud
Though I believed that the title and the call to write the book were both from God, I was uncomfortable with that final word in the title. I was so uncomfortable, in fact, that I kept the title to myself until the last possible moment during the writing process.
Because orgasms are unspoken things.
Among Christians, in sexual recovery circles, in the media, and in entertainment, orgasms are not openly discussed. Or if they are, they are either shamefully discussed—or worse still—joked about instead of discussed.
One time only and in a very small circle of Christians, I participated in a conversation about orgasms. I was among newly married Christian women who were considering books on marriage that we could read and discuss together.
Though no one could have overheard us inside the private residence where we met, we spoke in hushed tones. Only one of us (and it wasn’t me!) was brave enough to say the word “orgasm” out loud. And our questions and comments were filled with doubt and uncertainty.
“Have you ever had one?”
“How would I know if I had one?”
“I mean, it feels good, but I’m not sure that I’m actually having an orgasm.”
“Does your husband check to see if you had one?”
“What do you say when he asks?”
In my experience, open discussions among Christians about sex were rare. When they did happen, they resulted in more open-ended and unanswered questions than the discussion began with.
And most often, *the point of pleasure in sex* was far removed from the conversations that I heard in church and among other Christians. Instead of the *possible pleasure of sex being* emphasized, the harm of sexual sins was the focus of discussion.
The climate for conversation about orgasms wasn’t much better in recovery circles. In recovery, I met women who struggled because they experienced orgasms too often and at unwanted times, as well as other women who never had orgasms at all and were afraid to—and everything in between. Discussions about orgasms in recovery were frequently filled with shame, remorse, and fear. I don’t recall too many of those talks expressing hope, and absolutely none of them expressed joy.
In the media and in entertainment, the mention of orgasms was either detailed in dry scientific facts or attached to perverse humor. Only anatomic teachings or sarcasm and vulgarity. No genuine discussion.
Then It Got Personal
I began to write my memoir.
I typed the title page first. Each time I added to my manuscript, I read the title as I scrolled past the title page. The title was a frequent part of my awareness, so the words that made up my title were always before me. Though I regularly edited the body of the book, I never edited its title.
Each day I that I worked on my memoir, I reread my title:
Locusts Ate My Orgasms
Locusts Ate My Orgasms
Locusts Ate My Orgasms
One day, it occurred to me.
Orgasms aren’t bad. But the devastation of them was.
In fact, orgasms are a part of the*good that was taken from me by the evil of others. Orgasms were a loss to me because of poor choices I made after the experience of abuse. Orgasms are a part of what God restored to me during healing.
Orgasms are good!
Orgasms are a delightful part of a delightful act created by the God I delight in. And part of the reason I delight in God is because he delights in giving such good gifts!
Since orgasms aren’t bad, then the word orgasm isn’t bad either. It’s ok to read the word orgasm. It’s ok to write the word orgasm. It’s ok to say the word orgasm out loud.
Orgasm seems like a dirty word because sex seems dirty. At least it does in the minds of Christians who focus on forms of sexual behavior that harm.
Sex seems dirty (and understandably so!) in the minds of abuse survivors who have been harmed by diverse forms of deviant sexual behavior.
The entertainment industry’s penchant to consistently connect the word “orgasm” with crude jokes only adds to an unfortunate, negative perspective of orgasms.
But an orgasm itself is not bad, nor is the word set aside to name the sensation. “Orgasm” is as fine a word to say as it is a pleasure to experience.
I sincerely hope —and truly believe—that part of the reason God led me to use the word “orgasm” in my title is to increase the use of (and comfort with) the word “orgasm.”
I am learning to say it without shyness and without shame. And, in doing so, my joy in my memoir increases—which is a good thing, since the book is about my life!
Today, I experience great joy in my life. And the book that chronicles how that joy came about has the word orgasm in its title.
It can be a pleasure to feel and pleasure to say.
You try. Say it loud and say it proud!
It’s not a dirty word. It’s not to be ignored. It’s not to be avoided. It’s not to be limited to immoral associations.
Yes, locusts ate my orgasms, BUT God redeemed my ability to enjoy orgasms and gave me the ability to discuss orgasms with others and with ease.