Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Someone on the ImaMother boards linked to this Shani Taragin shiur on Intimacy.

I listened to the shiur. A lot of it is good and some of it I don't agree with. But since most of it is good, I wanted to suggest that all Kallot or future Kallot listen to it as a lot of it is useful/ accurate. She even mentions vaginitis (although I think she might have meant vaginismus). She believes in giving her Kallot a lot of information about everything she can expect, including a blow-by-blow account of how things will most likely go down on the first night, which is something I agree with entirely. I also like that she tells the Kallot about sexual intimacy in the middle of their lessons rather than waiting to the very end, so that she can ask questions.

I don't agree with her that women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated. It could be not painful but I wouldn't call it pleasurable. That might also be because of my particular situation, though.

One thing I dislike a lot: She's machmir about saying that according to the Ramah you can engage in sex in any position as long as there is no shivchas zerah levatala. But she ignores the other approach of Rabbeinu Tam which the Ramah quotes. My posek and many poskim disagree with her understanding of the Ramah and say there CAN be shivchas zera as long as it is bderech akrai (not on a regular basis). And when it comes to people who have vaginismus or other sexual issues, there can be shivchas zerah all the time (masturbation of the husband by hand, for instance or orally) because at that point there is simply no way for there to be penetration of the woman. And I can refer you to my posek if you need a similar psak.

I also found this post called "The Wedding Night Nightmare by Anonymous" (it was also on the ImaMother boards.) I felt like I could totally understand where she was coming from...then I realized that she actually posted on this blog with the Help for PVV email. I hope people contact her and she can help them.


Anonymous said...

I don't agree with her that women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated. It could be not painful but I wouldn't call it pleasurable. That might also be because of my particular situation, though.

Im sorry, but, respectfully, this is ridiculous. Of course many, if not most, women experience pleasure during intercourse. The suggestion that no women experience any pleasure from sex and that sex is only pleasurable for men is patently absurd. Why do you think so many women have sex? You think they lie there, not in pain at best, to... what? Why would any woman who didn't want a child ever be sexually active?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon:
Pretty sure the baalat hablog means the very first time
there is penetration. Context is king (and benefit of the doubt when one does not understand is Queen).
Dear SJG,
"shiCHvat zera levatala"
regards from liza bennett

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love your blog but I spend a lot of time googling the (Hebrew? Yiddish?) words I don't understand! ha ha. But I'm sure it would be too laborious for you to define everything, which would also probably mean explaining the concepts behind the words.

Anyway, I won't stop reading! Great blog. Glad you're still writing it.

Sad Jewish Girl said...

Anon 1,

It's my understanding that women feel pleasure from clitoral stimulation and eventual orgasms, not from the penetrative act itself. My therapists said this.

Anon 2,

Nice of you to defend me but I didn't mean that.

Anon 3,
I will try to define terms more.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that women feel pleasure from clitoral stimulation and eventual orgasms, not from the penetrative act itself. My therapists said this.

Your therapists are wrong.

Anonymous said...

You might have misunderstood what your therapists were telling you.

Anonymous said...

A) Maybe just a link to a good hebrew/english dictionary, or an intro to Judaism site that gets into deeper terms . . .

B) From what I've read, supposedly 20% of women just can't orgasm (although they can still feel pleasure) -- it has nothing to do with comfort, their bodies just don't work that way. For the rest, (assuming no psychological distress) a few can enjoy and orgasm on penetration alone, but most will require clitoral stimulation -- and not just random stimulation, but most women will need a specific type (hard, soft, up and down, side to side, fast slow, some mix of all these). It's not an on/off button, to many mens' dismay.

For what it's worth, I spent my pre-teen years reading erotic novels wherein the girl ALWAYS had a great pain when her hymen broke (and then she always orgasmed that first time from penetration alone, too (rolls eyes!!!) -- but 99% of the women I've polled have no recollection of their hymen whatsoever. So their expectations were the opposite of Sad Jewish Girl's, but also wrong when compared to their eventual experience.

The thing about sex is that it's so individual. I wish it were taught/explained in a way that let virgins know that there's a lot of normal out there -- the first time: some pain is common, no pain is common . . . a lot of pain is not so common, but there's help . . . I wish there were a better way to educate so that no one had to worry, but at the same time it was also clear when to ask for help.


PS -- who the hell comes on someone's blog and tells them they are ridiculous or their therapist is wrong about something so personal? I mean, Sad Jewish Girl has poured her heart and her vagina out on these pages . . . I don't understand how one could respond with anything but compassion.

Anonymous said...

There's a difference between feeling pleasure and specifically having an orgasm. Most women experience pleasure from penetrative intercourse. Many women do not reach orgasm that way.

Sad Jewish Girl said...

I'm not sure what your people's problem is, kind of along the lines of what Meira said (thanks Meira). I did say that maybe the reason has to do with my particular issue/ condition. Fact is, I feel zero pleasure being penetrated and I'm lucky if it is not painful. All I can speak from is my own experience.

Anonymous said...

First anonymous here.

What people are taking issue with is your extrapolation of your "particular issue/ condition" to every woman ever. It is truly heartbreaking that you can't feel any pleasure being penetrated. And all any of us can do is speak from our experiences, but we are also able to access the experiences of others so as to broaden our understanding of the world.

Yes, your experience is more common than most people think. But all the same, you are firmly in the minority of women. Though only about 20% of women orgasm from vaginal penetration alone without clitoral stimulation, most women report pleasure from penetration alone. I'm very sorry that you have such a different experience of sex, but please try to go beyond your own experience and understand where others are coming from.

Sad Jewish Girl said...

Anon 1,

How exactly did you get from my statement "That might also be because of my particular situation, though" to my extrapolating my situation to every woman ever?

Seems to me like you have zero understanding of anyone in my situation. I'm allowed to disagree with a statement that I don't feel is accurate to my personal experience. That doesn't mean I'm claiming every single woman is like me.

You should work on your empathy- or lack of it.

Anonymous said...

I really hope this helps and doesn't make things worse.

"I don't agree with her that women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated. It could be not painful but I wouldn't call it pleasurable. That might also be because of my particular situation, though."

This is unclear. Is she saying all women or most women? Are you disagreeing with her because you think she is not correct that women in general will feel pleasure or because your experience contradicts the idea of all women?

"It's my understanding that women feel pleasure from clitoral stimulation and eventual orgasms, not from the penetrative act itself. My therapists said this."

You used this statement to explain your earlier disagreement. It sounds like you are saying "all women" not "some women." Therefore it seemed that you were contradicting the statement from the shiur on a general basis and not with respect to your personal experience. Plus it sounds like what your therapists said needed clarification, because if what they were in fact saying was that all or most women derive no pleasure from penetrative sex then that is incorrect.

It's kind of funny to dispute one blanket statement by use of another blanket statement.

You've suffered so much misinformation. Your readers just want you to have the right information.

It's pretty clear what the woman giving the shiur was saying. If she had said that most women will feel some pleasure, that would have been correct. It is completely unclear what your therapists were saying. Unless they were talking about orgasms specifically and meant only many not all women, they were incorrect.

It's become kind of confusing what you are saying, whether you were disagreeing with the original statement in general based on incorrect facts you got elsewhere or as it applied to you with respect to your own experiences.

Most women derive some pleasure from penetrative sex. The shiur should have specified most not all women. If your therapists gave you the idea that women typically do not derive any pleasure from penetrative sex, then you might want to clarify with them what they meant.

You have every right to be upset by a statement that doesn't take into consideration your experience. The original statement certainly should have said most and not indicated all women.

Your readers want you to have the right information. You should know that penetrative sex can be pleasurable for women. It might at some point be for you.

It of course shouldn't be taught that penetrative sex is pleasurable for all women. It also should not be taught that it is never pleasurable for women.

Many parties involved here have been both misunderstood and themselves unclear.

Anonymous said...


Let's go through what you said, sentence-by-sentence.

I don't agree with her that women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated. It could be not painful but I wouldn't call it pleasurable.

Shani Taragin states that "women will feel some amount of pleasure if she's already moisturized/ lubricated." You disagree with this. Presumably this means that you would agree with the statement that "women will not feel some amount of pleasure (even) if she's already moisturized/ lubricated." You are more than welcome to say that you won't feel pleasure even if already lubricated, but it's quite a stretch to disagree with the claim that some women will feel pleasure. Note, she doesn't say all women, or even women with vaginismus, or even women with vulvar vestibulitis. She's talking about your average women without these awful problems.

That might also be because of my particular situation, though.

It's nice that you're aware of why your perspective on women's sexual pleasure is skewed, but this doesn't make it any less skewed. Again, just because penetration is not pleasant for you, it does not follow that Shani Taragin is wrong in saying about the majority of women that penetration is pleasurable when sufficiently lubricated.

There's a distinct irony in your claim that I have zero understanding of anyone in your situation. That is to say, you seem to have a hard time understanding that most people are not in your situation.

You're right that her statement is not "accurate to [your] personal experience." This is because she is not talking about you. So it seems pretty silly to disagree with it on that grounds. It's like an Athenian disagreeing when I say that all Cretans are liars because our Athenian friend is not a liar. I wasn't talking about him!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Anon 3. No pressure to define terms more if it's a hassle. :) I enjoy what I learn when I do google searches. Some phrases I haven't been able to find, though. I tried to listen to the Shiur and realized I would miss too much by not knowing Hebrew.

To the person who suggested finding a Hebrew/English dictionary, that's a great idea. I bet I can find something online. Thanks.

Sad Jewish Girl said...

I'm not sure why there was a need for two different people to both go line by line through every statement I made. Was once not enough.

For the record, to the Athenian-Crete person, that was completely unhelpful. It was also mean and hurtful. You have no clue what I meant- the word 'disagree' doesn't mean Shani was necessarily factually wrong. It just meant I disagree. Which I have a right to do. Maybe one day you'll know what this situation is like. Then let's see who calls another person "skewed," their opinions "silly" and otherwise use your 'logic' to tear down someone else. You're just a bully.

rm said...

I think you (SJG) are perfectly clear, and people know, deep down, regardless of whether they choose to pick on your words, that we're meant to read this blog from your perspective.

This was a great post, and this is a great blog.

Anonymous said...

Athenian-Crete person here. Also Anon 1. Sorry I forgot to mention it. For the record I'm neither Athenian nor Cretan; in fact, I'm not Greek at all. I posted without seeing the fantastic comment before mine. I'm sorry if it seemed like we were piling on.

The commenter before me is correct that we just want you to have the right information. We also want anyone who comes across this blog to have the correct information. I would hate for a young woman who doesn't struggle with the challenges you face to come away with the impression that vaginal intercourse will never be pleasurable for her. Shani Taragin probably should have said that most women derive some pleasure from penetration, but it seemed rather clear given the context, and I'm sorry that you understood it in a hurtful way.

I'm further sorry that you found my comments mean and hurtful. Of course everyone interprets things through their own experiences and view of the world. I was just saddened that you were using your fairly large platform to potentially mislead many people.

I'm sorry that you've drawn the conclusion that I'm a bully. I'm certain that if we were to meet in person you'd find me rather understanding and empathetic. But I refuse to privilege your experience to the detriment of others who may be misinformed by your blog. After all, isn't one of the purposes of this blog to properly inform young women and increase accurate sexual education?

I apologize for using the word silly. I probably should have said "not very useful" instead. But I did not call you skewed. That would be a horrible thing to call anyone. Nor did I say anything about you as a person. I merely said that your perspective on women's sexual pleasure is skewed. Skewed means "distorted or biased in meaning or effect." I think this is kind of the point of this blog. You are coming from a place that most people are not and providing valuable insight into that experience. By definition, this means that your perspective will be different from the majority of women. So using this perspective to address a comment about that majority of women whose perspective you sadly don't share seems, well, not the best idea.

Finally, words have meanings. It's the only way that we're able to have this conversation at all. All the words that we use have common, agreed upon meanings. It's simply not possible to disagree with Shani without saying she was wrong. That's what disagreement is. When I disagree with you, I am saying that you are wrong. You indeed have the right to disagree, but you are simply unable to disagree with her while at the same time thinking she is factually correct. You would then not in fact be disagreeing.

I'm sorry for any hurt I may have cause, but I will not apologize for trying to keep the wonderful dialogue you have here true, accurate, and meaningful.

Anonymous said...

"She ignores the view of tosfos on the Rama".

Any Rav that can talk to u abt a tosfos on a rama is a really special guy. That takes serious talent. No referrals to such a guy necessary, i could just talk to my neighborhood hobo. Ha. Lady, stick to the kitchen.

Nesya said...

Wow, just following the parsha where we talk about the power of words, this thread just goes to show how much hurt and misunderstanding we can cause with our language. Unfortunately blanket statements can be very upsetting for people who are suffering from conditions like this and it is understandable that you would be more sensitive about this than others listening to the shiur. In a way it's similar to the way people who have been single for a while are told stuff like "singles these days are too picky", without treating them as individuals with valid considerations. I remember feeling really awful as I was going through a divorce and kept hearing around me "people just don't try hard enough these days" or other annoying generalizations. As if what I was going through wasn't hard enough, I felt like I had to justify myself all the time! So I totally understand your knee jerk reaction to the statement in the shiur and empathize with it. Having said that, when I first read what you wrote, I initially had the exact same reaction that Anonymous did. I think the point that she/he is trying to make is that the shiur is talking about the majority of women and I think that it's responsible of Shani Taragin to talk about what "generally" happens. While it would certainly be wrong to ignore vaginismus, there's no need to scare every kallah about it either. That does not diminish what you are going through or deny the validity and legitimacy of how you feel-the statement just isn't necessarily geared towards you/your situation. I really don't think Anonymous was trying to attack you personally (although the use of the word "ridiculous" may have been a little insensitive), just like you weren't trying to say that absolutely nobody experiences pleasure with lubrication. I hope things get easier for you quickly and you can enjoy your marriage more and more each day. I also hope that you can find the strength in you to ignore the insensitivity from other people and focus on what you know to be right and take strength from everyone who empathizes with you.

Sad Jewish Girl said...

hi idiotic yeshiva bachur at 4:23,

I meant Rabbeinu Tam, not Tosfos. I fixed the post. Thanks for pointing out my mistake, pos.

Anonymous said...

'idiotic yeshiva bachur' checking in.

Good thing u changed that sentence. I was about to say that a Rabbeinu Tam on a Rama aint no better :-)

Sad Jewish Girl said...

hey yeshiva bachur 10:46 pm,

You made me laugh. But I hope you're not married yet because your wife would resent being told she needs to stay in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

'yeshiva bachur' here

glad u found that funny. first off, im no longer a yeshiva bachur. anyone with a knowledge of learning or simply knowing when ppl lived should have jumped on that. The rama was around in the 1600, whereas Tosfos and R'T the 1100s.

Not all women belong in the kitchen. Smart ones, who can 'learn like men', can do quite well outside of one:-)

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog quite unintentionally while looking for that shiur.
But maybe it's a good thing, because i can tell you there is hope, from my own experience. Even after a year and more, these issues can still work out fine. Took more than a year, but things eventually turned out great - with a lot of patience and caring from both partners. I have anecdotal evidence of other similar cases.

Anonymous said...

I'm fairly certain that leniency you're referring to was discussing only if the shichvat zera was a result of anal relations. Since anal cannot result in conception it would be considered forbidden if done on a regular basis but is permitted if it is done biakrai as you said. The poskim I've seen did not make the leap that your teacher did. I would recommend looking at the sources inside