Here we are, well into May—otherwise known as International Masturbation Month. How have you been observing this month-long event? Of course, most of you reading this article probably don't need any coaxing to self pleasure! In any case, I'll continue on last week's article on myths, fears and other misinformation regarding masturbation along with my own breakdowns and take-downs!
Myth: Masturbation is selfish.
Reality: Unless you're Bogarting the communal Hitachi Magic Wand (throw a female condom on it!), masturbation is about as selfish as watching Netflix alone in the comfort of your own home. If you are masturbating so much that you are forgetting to feed your children or take your dogs out on a walk, then you may have a problem. Otherwise, the notion that solo sex is somehow selfish can likely be traced back to religious notions (esp. Christianity, Judaism & Islam) that claim sex must only be had as a means to creating a child or creating a deeper bond (between a man and a woman, of course), and that any other kind of sex- such as solo sex- is somehow robbing your current/future wife/husband/child/etc., as if it's a zero-sum game.
You don't have to be a social conservative to have internalized this belief. You may even officially believe that there is nothing wrong or selfish about masturbation, but still feel a little guilty engaging in it anyway. This feeling of religious guilt about sexuality permeates our society—it's the air we breathe.
Masturbating or solo sex does not, in and of itself, take away from our ability to achieve transcendent states of physical, emotional, energetic, psychic, and/or spiritual connection between ourselves and our lovers - or husbands or wives or whatever. (By the way, one can also achieve transcendent states and deeper connection with one's self while engaging in meditative masturbation!) And as far as I know, masturbating doesn't take away our ability to procreate- otherwise the human species would be in serious trouble.
Furthermore, masturbation can help keep our wheels greased, so to speak. It can produce feelings of arousal at more frequent intervals, or increase our "libido" as some people would call it. Think of it as a sex ,muscle. If you don't use it, you lose it. Or at least degrees of it.
Myth: Masturbation is unhealthy
Reality: Let's go back to the Netflix watching analogy. If you are watching so much Netflix that you stop going to work, stop taking showers, stop interacting with the wider world around you, and obsessing over it even when you're not watching it- than it's time to take a step back and re-assess your Netflix/life balance and perhaps get some outside help. Is Netflix in and of itself unhealthy? I vote no. However, if we had to place it in a hierarchy, I'd say masturbation is even healthier! I won't even say masturbation is only healthy in moderation because "moderation" means something completely different to each of us! The point is, if masturbation does not take away from your quality of life and you are able to maintain a balance with life's other pleasures and obligations, then it doesn't matter if you masturbate once a week or three times a day.
These days, most physicians agree that masturbation is harmless. Furthermore, masturbation has been linked with lower rates of prostate cancer (regularly cleaning out those pipes is a good thing.)
Myth: "If my partner masturbates, they won't enjoy sex with me."
Reality: This fear manifests in several different ways. Mostly, I hear it in the form of guys exclaiming "I can't compete with that!" when they're staring at a shelf full of vibrators. Occasionally, I hear it from women, too. I once had a young guy tell me that he won't "let" his girlfriend have a sex toy because his "Christian school teacher" told him that women won't be able to enjoy sex with men after having used a sex toy. There is so much wrong with that whole scenario, I don't know exactly where to begin. (ie It's troubling that he feels himself to be the regulator of his girlfriend's private life, that his "Christian school teacher" deems himself to be a qualified sexuality educator, and that he is not taking any responsibility himself for whether his girlfriend enjoys having sex with him or not - a sex toy or lack of sex toy does not a good lover make.) I'll try to stay on point, though.
According to multiple and various surveys, women who masturbate report higher rates of orgasmic sex with sexual partners. Knowing how to give yourself an orgasm will not guarantee an orgasm during partnered sex, however, not knowing how to give yourself an orgasm almost does guarantees that you will not have an orgasm during partnered sex. For better or for worse, our sexual partners don't have ESP. We sometimes need to be able to gently guide them in the places and ways we like to be touched, and in order to do that, we need to know how and where to touch ourselves.
Of course, masturbation and partnered sex is not a direct correlate, but if you can't stand having your clitoris or tip of your penis directly touched before you're fully aroused while you're masturbating, you most likely will not like that same sensation during partnered sex. On the same hand, if you love having a certain kind of thrusting pressure on your g-spot or prostate while you're masturbating, you will likely love it with your partners and can incorporate certain positions and/or toys to achieve that.
But how can I compete with an industrial strength vibrator?! Don't. There is a whole world of pleasure you can bring your partner that is unique to what you can provide. Is it the way you whisper dirty things into their ear? Is it the way you moan and grunt and grab them with your whole warm body pulling them firmly against you? Is it your rhythm? Your fingers in their hair? The way you don't stop that particular repetitive motion when they ask you not to stop? That naughty spanking? The way your wet tongue expertly massages their genitals? Is it your cute face? How can a vibrator compete with you?!
All of the above still doesn't guarantee your partner will orgasm if they need more intense and directed stimulation that can only be achieved with a vibrator or firm hand grip, but at the very least, it will be an extremely fun and pleasurable ride along the way, and what's wrong with cooperating with a vibrator? What's wrong with starting or ending things off with a sensual hand job? Not only can these other sensations add to your partner's pleasure, but they can multiply their pleasure when you combine a vibrator with deep thrusting and dirty talk. And trust me, vibrators can make your life way easier!
But I've digressed. We're talking about masturbation here. Bottom line: A partner who masturbates not only can still enjoy having sex with you, but can even make that sex better.
Thank you for joining me in this week's installment of Masturbation: Myth-Busting! I'll see you next week!
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her milling around her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St., (888) 874-6588.