Masturbation itself is not new to me. I first masturbated when I was five, finding the good feelings suddenly as I rode my new teddy bear like a horse across my my still baby-quilted bed.
But although masturbation is not new to me, empowered masturbation is. And the difference between these two is huge.
When I discovered I could rub my little place down there on a pillow and make myself feel oh-so-good, from the first moment I found it, I felt shame. The orgasm washed over me. It was so surprising, so wonderful. But as I emerged out of the waves, a gasp of dread filled me and then like a sharp spear, the thought entered me so clearly “I can never share this with my mother. She must never find out. Not her, not ANYONE.”
Fast forward to today, 20-ish years later, and after the three yummy orgasms and I sat down to write this, my clit got so hot typing those first two paragraphs, I had to run downstairs and give myself a good pillow fuck, just like I used to as a little girl. And for one of the first times in my life I didn’t feel sorry for it, no not one bit. ;)
Secrecy, hiding, exploring only in darkness, experiencing without being able to talk about it. These are the hallmarks of shame. And guilt comes in to follow closely, the ever faithful bed-mate of shame. I don’t remember masturbating much between the age of five and twelve. From that first time, I tried my best to put the idea out of my mind. ‘If I cannot share it with anyone, should I even share it with myself?’ My fear of being caught shut down any desire I would have had otherwise.
As a young teen however, my sexual energy soared and I found myself masturbating almost compulsively. I’d try to talk myself out of it, shaming myself for the desire, but the energy took over and ahhhhhh…. sweet pleasure, sweet release. And then guilt would fill me…
Over and over, the self-beatings would come. I hit myself with everything I had. I don’t think there was a moment I was free from the abuse, the abuse of my internal self-hate and sexual shame.
As an adult, when I began to explore the ideas of sexual shame and sexual freedom, I saw no reason in my mind for me to feel guilt around masturbation. My mind renounced the shame, but I noticed I still felt a guilt or strange, uncomfortable feeling when I did self-pleasure. It was subtle, but enough I felt embarrassed for my partner to see me doing it and that after orgasm I would always feel a little empty and frustrated. It was energy draining rather than energy giving.
This is what shame does to our sexuality. It turns a normally very energizing, mood-lifting, happy-making activity like sex and masturbation, and makes into something that sucks our energy and leaves us more behind than ahead.
Masturbation itself and those who do it are made fun of in American culture and media. ‘If you masturbate, you must have something wrong with you, or you are incompetent to find ‘real’ sexuality.’ That is the attitude communicated to all of us, man or woman, that masturbation is somehow a ‘lesser’ form of sexuality, and of course something we should hide.
For some reason, us women buy into this idea hard. Many women masturbate, but many many more do not. Women often feel disgust, intense embarrassment or shame at the idea. For myself, I know the shame around masturbation inhibited me in my ‘normal’ sex life enormously. Even though I did pleasure myself occasionally, the shame prevented me from really exploring my body and my individual sexual response. I expected or hoped my partner to find the proper way to stimulate me, hoping for orgasm, without even knowing how to do that myself.
Sometimes it came, but other times I was left high and dry and never knowing why or what exactly it was I needed really to climax. How are we supposed to help our lovers find the way to pleasure us if we are numb and unaware of our sexual response ourselves? Waiting, hoping, for others to find the way to pleasure us, without us putting in any effort to discover it for ourselves, is like searching for a tiny box in a dark storage room.
Even for the women who do masturbate, many never find how to move past their childhood masturbation method. They may try other methods here and there, but give up quickly as the other methods do not yield as consistent results right away as their usual method does. This was the boat I was in. I knew how to get off by humping a pillow, but had no idea how to do it any other way. And seriously, it’s not very practical for my partner to give me a pillow hump to get me off - that’s pretty much a solo job. So it was very limiting as far as letting it be a part of partner play goes, as well as it being a dead-end method of sexual growth. There was no way for me to use it to teach my partner how to help me orgasm, and I couldn’t even learn more about my body sexual response from it. As I got older too, the two minute orgasm that came from it became less and less satisfying. I needed something more. I needed my orgasm to grow and mature.
Hearing in college of women who orgasmed by touching themselves, water, vibrators or other means, made me want to learn as well. During sex with my partner, I didn’t seem to respond strongly to manual stimulation of my clit or even oral. Sure it felt good, but I never seemed to climax like I did when masturbating. And yet, the means I masturbated by was completely nontransferable into partner sex! At various times then, I tried to masturbate using my hands or a vibrator. I’d rub myself for say three or four minutes and dang… nothing would happen. So I’d give up.
The vibrator yielded better results, but after some weak orgasms here and there, it only ended up desensitizing me more so I felt even LESS in partner sex.
What I didn’t understand then though, was that sex is a SKILL and pleasure is something you DEVELOP. You grow it and build on it. Unfortunately though, when women like me give up quickly on new self-pleasure techniques, especially the more practical ones like hand stimulation, we are giving up on our sexual pleasure as a whole. Instead of gaining understanding through dedicated self-exploration, we leave our pleasure in the hands of fate, instead of our own. Maybe for some, the hands of fate know how to stroke a woman right, but looking around at all the masses of women who have trouble orgasming and finding satisfying sexual pleasure, I don’t think fate knows what it’s doing.
Silk on my body.
Finally, the next chapter started. Enter Betty Dodson. Stumbling around the internet early last year I discovered her, the queen of female orgasm and masturbation. Betty Dodson has been teaching women how to orgasm through clitoral stimulation and self-exploration since the 1970′s, encouraging them to learn their bodies and cultivate pleasure through masturbation. And one night, a month or two after I’d found her, I decided I wanted to put her ideas to practice. You can watch a great video by her about masturbation here. By this time I had reached the point I could orgasm beautifully during partner sex much of the time, but I was totally dependent on him and the randomness of the act to somehow *make* it happen for me. Inside I felt an emptiness and sadness that I could not do that for myself. My partner was out of town and the frustration of being lost sexually without him to help me was coming to the surface.
‘I want to do that for myself. I want to love myself. Can I do this? I want to love myself.’
So I decided to try masturbating with my hands again, the way Betty suggested. I washed my body, did my hair all short and pretty…. slipped on something silky. My heart sent a little prayer up to God ‘Can you please just help me have an orgasm like I do with him?’
I looked in the mirror and started to feel a seed of joy growing up out of my barren heart. It felt good to do this, even if it was just for myself.
Silk on my body. My jewelry all arranged. Silk on my body. I felt so pretty….
Little candles lit my room, burning softly. Laying down, I gave myself a very loving and slow massage. I started on my thighs, warming up my body softly… Then I moved to my vulva rubbing softly with lots of massage oil. I let every touch be exquisite, letting myself feel everything, gently and fully. My hands, two sculptors, worked to make a work of art, molding my flesh like clay. My mind drifted to beautiful images of pleasure, enticing fantasies of feeling. After a while I started to feel the lovely lifting, swelling feeling of growing arousal. The pleasure slowly built up in me, flowing up my body softly till at one point it’s warmth filled me up and I hovered there, full and bright. Then I felt it come down, washing down my body gently and I felt good.
‘Wow, I that was an orgasm’ Finally *I* had done that for myself and with my hands!
I had felt the blossom of orgasm, but was hardly done. ‘More orgasms, please’ my body sang sweetly. I brought my little glass dildo, Mr. Snakey, to the bed (glass is great by the way, because it is incredibly hard which feels amazing). Mr. Snakey moved slowly into my body, loving me sweetly as I caressed my clitoris and vulva up above. We worked together, found a beat, and from that added in a sultry rhythm, altering or keeping it constant as it felt good to. The feelings built upon themselves slowly. Oh it felt sooooo good, as good as the best sex sessions I’d had. As I moved up levels of pleasure, closer and closer to orgasm, I questioned whether I could really do it. But soon I did. And it was great. :)
After that night, I felt a greater love and confidence in my body and self than I had ever felt before. I could do it. I could take care of and love myself. I also learned some important things about myself I had never realized before. The orgasms had been so good and full and I have felt so relaxed and aroused from when I first laid down, and because I did not have the distraction of someone else there, I was able to realize in retrospect why everything had gone so right. All of the preparation I had done by getting dressed up, looking at myself in the mirror and mentally preparing for the event had really helped me get aroused fully and relax. Before that time it had never even occurred to me that I needed any kind of preparation for sex. Instead I had treated myself like a machine – push this button and I get this result – instead of a dynamic being with emotions, a sexual process of arousal, and needs. The realization that arousal was not a formula of foreplay was huge and helped me in my sexual relationship with my partner a lot.
Since that night, masturbation has helped me cultivate and understand my orgasm immensely. The canvas of masturbation is so much simpler than partner sex because you are free of all distractions. You have only yourself and your own mind and body to deal with and so deducing what techniques work and how is much simpler. This makes it a very easy and wonderful way to get in touch with your orgasm and pleasure response on a deeper level. Practicing self-loving has also helped me learn how to teach my partner to bring me to orgasm and greater pleasure. And I feel a deeper sense of confidence and love for myself. Plus, anytime I am down, I can just give myself a few orgasms and suddenly my mood is lifted and no one even had to be there to help me. :)
I love myself more and I have found I can be my own source of pleasure. This is empowered masturbation – masturbation as a source of pleasure and self-love. And it feels completely different than it did before my liberation from shame – before I liberated myself by simply loving myself freely and gently till my cup was full. I believe we can all find that empowerment and freedom. We don’t need anyone else to give us happiness, but can always find at least a little bit for ourselves through our own self-loving or love of self. You can be your own source of love and pleasure. Can you feel that?
I love you, self. I love you. I love myself. I give myself pleasure. I give myself happiness. I give myself orgasm. I love myself. I love myself. I love you….. self……