When we talk about masturbation, we talk about the friction between fingers and sex. We talk about toys and shower heads and lotions. We talk about the mechanics and the secrets. What we don’t talk about is the vulnerability, the surrender or the love involved.
A dark veil surrounds masturbation and self-pleasure. While the majority of people (women included) masturbate, it’s rarely discussed aside from the occasional dildo joke or reference to jacking off.
Even now, in 2015, we’ve come to a place where we discuss masturbation (particularly female masturbation) more often, but rarely in relation to ourselves. We might share anecdotes about our sex lives with our partners, but never about our sex lives solo.
We grow up thinking that self-pleasure is disdainful – from an early age society teaches us to feel ashamed of our desires. This pushes us farther and farther away from ourselves. We grow up learning how to be something for everyone – family, friends, partners. We learn how to make love to others, how to serve others, how to exist for others.
But nobody teaches us how to touch ourselves, how to caress our own bodies and hearts. We learn the importance of intimacy between two people, but not of the intimacy within ourselves. We neglect to acknowledge that intimacy with the self is one of the most beautiful experiences there is, whether practiced alone or with a partner.
I didn’t think much of masturbation until I was with my current partner. I’d always masturbated, but I never talked about it. As a couple, we mentioned it offhand many times, and we’d approach it as a type of foreplay occasionally. It was always something we spoke openly about and that turned us on, but it wasn’t a big part of our sex lives until recently.
After a massive fight that resulted in screaming, crying and a near-breakup, we were both heartbroken and all we wanted to do was collapse into each other and dissolve the memories of that day with kisses. When you come to a point where you realize that even the greatest love may be breakable, you feel like glass.
Few things have made me feel as vulnerable as I did that night, but amidst the vulnerability and pain, something incredible happened: We lay together in bed, facing the ceiling but the length of our bodies curled into one another. I began to caress myself, locking eyes with my partner, and he began to do the same.
We lay there making love to ourselves together, enveloped in our own bodies with our eyes locked together. Our vulnerability and nakedness sat on display, but our unabashed pleasure demonstrated that our love for each other was intrinsically linked to our love for ourselves.
A moment like that is impossible to forget, to reverse. A moment like that turns vulnerability into strength. A moment like that turns hurt and confusion into healing and understanding.
When we talk about masturbation, we admit that we love ourselves enough to dedicate a time to making ourselves come alive with pleasure. We admit that we deserve that delicate touch of a lover and we seek it. When we masturbate we don’t become a substitute for a lover, we become our own lover.
When we refuse to talk about masturbation, we deny our capacity for self love and admiration. We deny ourselves the pleasure we deserve, and we deny those we love of our whole selves.
When we talk about taboos surrounding masturbation, we are talking about the taboos surrounding self love. When we talk about masturbation in relationships, we talk about our comfort and security with being a whole person in love with another whole person.
When we are fully in love with ourselves and nurture the inherent sensual connection we have with our own bodies, we become whole, we do not need filling, nor do we need to find our other half. When we make love to ourselves we make within ourselves an alter on which to worship love of all kinds.
When we talk about masturbation, we talk about love.