Normalizing Masturbation5 Min Read
Masturbation is a sexual act that has been deeply shamed, shut down and demonized over the course of history. For a more historical breakdown, check our article out here. Meanwhile, today, we wanted to sit down with a sex positive friend and learn how she has been able to break through the shame so many of us have been taught to feel. Below, we learned some tips on finding empowerment through her life experiences.
Haley: So growing up, my understanding of masturbation was really just zero…. Then when I was in high school, I immediately started dating and ended up losing my virginity at 16. When I was thinking about doing this podcast, I realized how crazy it is that someone else had touched me before I had done that myself. I eventually ended up discovering masturbation when I was in college, around 20 years old. And before then, I honestly didn’t really know that it was a sexual option. But now, I personally believe that if you haven’t masturbated before, you can’t have great sex. And furthermore, masturbating for me is so central to me feeling good and having a clear head.
Elizabeth: I agree. If you're not experiencing orgasms during sex and you're not getting them alone, how are you supposed to know what you are looking for, or what you’re missing out on? And I love that you talk about your personal wellbeing because I feel like there's such a disconnect in understanding that we are sexual beings and that our sexual wellbeing is so important in how we are feeling on a daily basis. And it's not about masturbating every single day or about being wild and having tons of sex. But it is about feeling comfortable in our bodies and our skin, and getting rid of the shame so that we are free to have these inevitable experiences in a positive way. It's all so intertwined.
Haley: Absolutely. To that point, I think that being able to tell someone what you want sexually is so unbelievably empowering. At the end of the day, I can make myself cum. I don't need anyone else to do that. I mean… I welcome anyone who thinks that they can, but I'm all I need.
Being so comfortable now, how did you evolve from that shamed mentality you used to live in, to where you are now?
Haley: It took conscious effort to take back these things that are taboo. I started thinking to myself, why are men so freely able to talk about watching porn, and having sex, and masturbating? I mean, so much of this is so normal for guys. They all talk about it together at such a young age and it just blows my mind that the patriarchy is truly living inside of our vaginas. I see it in myself all the time. I mean, the reason I feel so strongly about normalizing masturbation is because I'm still dealing with the repercussions of that shame in my day-to-day sexual life. For example, I find myself faking it from time to time because I'm still viewing sex as a validator - as a ‘this is what I have to give’ and if a guy feels like he's turned on, then that’s what turns me on. It's a process to unlearn these beliefs, and this is often such a female specific experience. Can you imagine a guy being like, "Oh, I'm going to fake cum so the girl will feel good." It’s just something I’ve never experienced.
Elizabeth: Also as a female, think about you being the only one to finish the majority of the time and just how uncomfortable you would be with that. I knew couples in high school who had been dating for one to two plus years, and the girls had never had an orgasm. And this type of experience really isn’t as uncommon as you would think.
Haley: Right and then in these situations it feels like girls are often just laying there being like, "Was that good for you?"
Elizabeth: Exactly, and it’s not about being anti-male, but it is about acknowledging these glaring disparities that often happen in heterosexual experiences.
So with your own experiences, you were the one to introduce me to the site OMGYes, can you talk a little about that?
Haley: Yes, so I was randomly searching the internet for, ‘am I broken?’ after never being able to orgasm but continuously faking it. Sex was very performative for me, my partners never knew I wasn’t enjoying it, so it was only to the detriment of myself. But I was frankly scared and clueless about my own body. But I found OMGYes, and to quickly summarize, it is a website where you can sign up for a membership. It's about $29 for a season and as of now, there's two seasons. It's the first widespread study ever done on the female orgasm. They talk about the different types of vaginas. They have people showing you their techniques on their own bodies. And they have a virtual vagina that you're able to practice on. For example, you can practice things like orbiting or edging. Overall, season one is very clitoris centered and season two talks about penetration and other G spot specifics. And this content is all inclusive showcasing a range of ages, races, and so on. I promise this is not sponsored, I wish it was though!
Elizabeth: Yes, and I was shocked to learn that there are 12 + words you could use to describe techniques for external pleasure that I didn't even know about. Plus the video demonstrations are great too, it's really helpful.
Haley: Totally and as I've been putting these techniques into practice more and more, I am finding that I'm exploring all these elements that I was never taught. And now I've shown OMGYes to my close guy friends. I'm like, "Why don't you know about this? Why isn't this targeted at men and women?" I think it’s important to spread this knowledge past just females.
With masturbation, obviously so many of us wish we had known to get rid of the shame earlier. Is there anything else that you wish you had known sooner?
Haley: I would just say being vulnerable is so important. Reaching out to your female friends is the best thing you can do if you are having any sexual issues. I mean, we are all having such shared experiences. And also, if there's one thing that this age of technology has brought, it’s the ability to normalize and make you feel like you have a community that you can talk to. For example, you can listen to a podcast and hear someone explain something that you thought you were alone in experiencing. I'd recommend to everyone listening (*reading in this case) to this, to continue to utilize these spaces when you are feeling uncomfortable holding conversations with friends or family!