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Shame & Masturbation

Shame & Masturbation eleemelove. flickr.com/photos/eledelove/6385380511/
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Most of you would agree that masturbation is A-Okay! But did you have to overcome a self-imposed reluctance? Or worse, an idea of societal shame? This article looks at how two people, a male (Kenneth) and female (Michele), dealt with their insecurities (and those of others) and eventually became (mostly) comfortable with their self-lovin’.

  The “Talk”

Michele: This will be anti-climactic. I had the talk when I was fourteen, from my mom. She told me, in no uncertain terms, to masturbate. She told me that masturbation would result in the most satisfactory ending, even beyond any sexual experiences I might have. She then told me roundly not to have sex until I was adult, which I don’t protest. At the time, as a teenager, I was too uncomfortable to really analyze it – but as an adult, she was right. During masturbation, I have fully experienced the rise and gorgeous fall of the female orgasm, even experiencing the supposedly different ‘flavors’ of orgasm – G-spot, clitoral, multiple and A-spot (for your edification: the anterior fornix, near the cervix).

Kenneth: I never really had “the talk” with my parents. Instead, I mostly had brief scoldings when they thought that I was watching porn. They never mentioned masturbation to me, though. Due to this lack of communication, I connected the discomfort I had with porn to masturbation; they both became things I liked but things I knew I shouldn’t watch or do. Then, once in the middle of high school, my mom very briefly told me that it was okay to watch a little porn occasionally, as long as I didn’t confuse the events in smut with reality. This didn’t really help much, since she seemed to be saying, “It’s okay, but not really,” and therefore confirmed my discomfort and shame. This feeling dissipated a little, though, when I separated masturbation from porn. Without having to access porn on the family computer, masturbation became something of private sanctuary rather than a moment of embarrassing vulnerability. That isn’t to say that I never watch porn anymore (especially now that I live away from my parents’ home), but I eventually worked myself up to a place where masturbation is okay and is no longer shameful. (I still make sure no one will walk in on me; like I said, it’s a moment of private sanctuary.) I can’t help but think, though, that more straightforward communication from my parents in my teens would’ve saved me a lot of self-imposed shame and anxiety about this subject.

  The Toys

Michele: Oh gosh! What a wonderland! Everything is designed to titillate and stimulate me, as a woman, in a variety of ways. For once, probably because of my clout as a consumer, the double standard is in my favor.

Kenneth: Both Michele and I have found that there is far more societal comfort with toys for women than with those for men. Vibrators and dildos are far more often featured in TV and movies than Fleshlights; even comedy, which uses vibrators and dildos to great comedic effect, doesn’t often touch the sure comic gold that are Fleshlights. That we can’t even make fun of Fleshlights betrays this discomfort with men using sex toys for masturbation. While I do just fine with my hand, I’ve started to warm up to the idea of using toys for my solitary pleasure. Why are women allowed to enjoy toys while men shouldn’t? Is it because the idea of women using toys makes them seem sexually available, which many men find attractive? Or is it that people think men should be able to find a woman to pleasure them? The reason is probably rooted in the sense of shame that I used to feel about masturbation in general.

  I just don't know what to do with myself...

As much as Michele and Kenneth love sexy times together, they both love having fun on their own as well. Masturbation is a very important place of self-exploration, and is as important as intercourse in sexual identity. It creates a safe zone of relaxation and discovery. Michele and Kenneth prompt you to be more open to yourself and others and to ask why masturbation plays the role it does in your life and how you can improve that role.

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Comments

Great read and fully understand what you mean!

01/23/2013
Jaimes  

Great read! Even though I work in a place surrounded by sexual positivity, and toys have become an everyday thing, I still struggle with shame in masturbation. It wasn't until my mid-twenties that I became even remotely comfortable with the idea, and I still feel the need to hide the practice from my husband, though he adamantly encourages me to enjoy myself. While I still don't engage in manual self-pleasure, because that isn't exciting for me, toys have made a huge difference in understanding what my body needs to achieve orgasm in the midst of partner play. It's not that I feel ashamed to do it, it's just something that is very personal to me. I like Kenneth's notion that it's more about private sanctuary than shame. That is very comforting, and a great direction to shift my thinking!

I also appreciate reading your respective perspectives about how your parents led you to think about masturbation. Sex was never a major topic with my parents, because I was pretty prudish about sex growing up. Masturbation never came up. This gave me some great insight as to how I might want to handle the topic when I have children.

Great article! Very well done!

01/24/2013

nice job

02/04/2013

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