Written by Paula Brečak for Self Studies
Masturbation has a bad reputation, especially when it comes to self pleasure for women. It is enveloped in a sense of shame, guilt, and filth created by stories and attitudes we encounter already as children. From obviously figmental myths of going blind or growing hair on your palms if you touch yourself down there, to stories that are a bit harder to discern as true or false. The theories in question try to convince us how masturbation is the same as cheating or how masturbating means you are not happy with the sex you have with your partner.
Women are taught to think that masturbating once in a while means they are addicted to sex or that if they can only orgasm with a sex toy, something must not be right with them. These stories make their way to us through friends, partners, gossip, social narratives of female sexuality, and slut shaming. They stay persistently, making us question our sexuality and pleasure for years, when we could be enjoying them instead. So many stories, theories, myths, and outright lies that give masturbation a bad reputation and deny us self love and self pleasure.
How both sad and infuriating. How unfair that we are taught to steer clear of pleasure and intimacy that we can provide to ourselves. For women, sexual pleasure is a taboo even in the most mainstream and heteronormative context of partnered sex with a man, yet alone when it is solo, queer, or with toys. And still, unlocking the possibility to have sexual pleasure by yourself and without the lingering feelings of guilt and shame will inevitably unlock so much more in terms of knowing who you are, being vulnerable, and connecting with yourself and others.
Know yourself, love yourself, touch yourself
Masturbation is one of the first ways we explore our bodies, already as fetuses touching our genitals. In that stage and during early childhood, masturbation is not even sexual. It doesn’t come with the knowledge of what sex is or what being horny and aroused means. Masturbation, at first, is all about what feels good. As we learn, in those first stages of development, what feels good, we learn about our own bodies and the sensations it can experience. As we grow up, go through our teenage years and all the accompanying confusing changes, and end up in adulthood (which often continues with the confusing changes), the sense of body exploration and curiosity is replaced with the sense of doing something forbidden and shameful when searching for pleasure. Thank our sex shamed society and stigmatization of female sexuality.
Adult sexual masturbation is, in essence, still all about getting to know yourself through touch. However, that requires unlearning some myths we are taught about our bodies. It requires realizing that your vulva is fine just the way it is. The way it looks is fine, the way it smells is fine, the way it gets wet or dry is fine. It requires us to accept that it is alright to think about it, talk about it (and not in code), and touch it in a way that feels good. To go back to what masturbation truly is supposed to be, we need to go back to experiencing our bodies without the societal judgment of it. Just touch, explore, do what feels good. There is no one there but you. It is such a simple, and yet a powerful practice of getting to know yourself, your body, your pleasure, and your sexuality.
Take yourself on a date
There is art in masturbation, it is an art of taking care of yourself and treating yourself like you would a loved one. Sometimes masturbating looks like creeping a hand under the covers, with a goal of relieving some stress and falling to sleep faster. Other times , pleasure and intimate time alone can and should be an end in itself. Make a whole thing out of it, a date, a night in. Order a beautiful luxe toy as a present for yourself to build up the anticipation as your solo date draws nearer. Put on an outfit you feel desirable in, add perfume, and accessorise with some sex-friendly jewelry like the Vesper vibrator necklace, even if no one will see you but you, you will still feel beautiful. Grab some bubbly, enjoy the food you like, light a candle, add a stimulating gel to take extra good care of your clitoris, don’t forget lube, cozy up with your favorite erotica. Unwrap your new toy and allow yourself the giddiness and the excitement of playing. You are all you need for pleasure and you are all you need for romance. Love yourself not only as a sentiment, but as an activity.
Learn how to orgasm, and then learn how not to
Masturbation is often seen as a quick release, a tried and tested way to reach an orgasm. And there is something to be said about that first: it is important you learn how to orgasm by yourself. Many women do not reach orgasm during straight partnered intercourse. While sex without an orgasm is perfectly fine and can still be very fun, what is neither fine nor fun is faking an orgasm or not exploring how you could reach an orgasm because shame grips your relationship with sexuality. Orgasms get easier with practice. Through masturbation, you will become more comfortable with your body and the sensations it feels, and you will become more familiar with what you like and what gets you there. That translates to sex with a partner as well.
Once you have the art of orgasming nailed down, play around with not orgasming. Masturbating for enjoyment and solo intimacy is not a sprint. The faster you get there, the shorter it will last. Take yourself to the edge and balance there. Take breaks, have some water, cool off so you can ignite again and again.
Happy endings guaranteed
Whether or not you orgasm at the end of your solo date and personal sexuality exploration, there are good things to be had either way. Masturbation will make your body release endorphins which will get you in a better mood and can even help with pain management, such as with menstrual cramps. It will make you feel more present in your body, aware of it and of how it responds to different types of touch. Masturbation will give you more sleep, more energy, less stress, and a stronger immunity. But more than that, it will also give you time for yourself and a way to spend an evening focusing precisely on what you want, need, and desire, making the love you feel for yourself into a piece of art.