We recently received an email from a customer asking if we'd be interested in reading an article she's written about her personal journey towards sexual pleasure. We were curious, as maybe you are, and said yes.
We received the finished piece, along with the author's chosen pictures to illustrate her story, and it struck a chord with us. We've met so many women with similar stories, and it highlights why having sex-positive spaces is so important.
We are honoured to be chosen to share this blog post, and we think it'll resonate with many of you.
In January it'll be my one year anniversary with myself; with myself as a lover.
Masturbation has helped me awaken a part of my physical body that became numb from years of neglect. It has helped me overcome sexual symptoms such as numbness, over-sensitivity, pain during sex, inability to orgasm, fear around sex and lack of libido and enjoyment of sex – all manifestations of shame and disgust around what is our most primal and natural urge, I believe.
Masturbation has also empowered me to be more comfortable asking for what I want when I have sex with other people and has helped me discover what feels good and what doesn't feel good. Looking back on many of the unsafe and uncomfortable sexual encounters I've had in the past, I realise that much of the reason these felt unsafe and uncomfortable was because I had absolutely no relationship with my sexual self. How could I possibly have a strong sexual connection with another if I was a stranger to myself sexually?
It might come as a shock, but throughout my life I've never really been much of a wanker. I remember having a fiddle as a youngster, making myself orgasm and then feeling very confused about what had happened. The warm, throbbing, expanded physical sensations down there made me feel a bit icky (I now know that was sexual shame rearing its unwelcome head). In fact, I can pinpoint specific conversations I had as a child that went a long way to instilling this aversion to masturbation. The fact I was raised Catholic didn't help my sexual awakening either. And my teenage years were spent in a punitive state of starving myself and over-exercising: it didn't leave much room to feel juicy and awaken the divine feminine within.
And so masturbation was put on the back burner. It always seemed like such an effort, anyway. Between the ages of eleven and 31, I probably masturbated about 20 times – despite buying vibrators and sex toys. I'd buy them, use them once or twice and then they'd lie dormant in my underwear drawer.
So what happened in January 2019 that ignited this passionate sexual relationship I now have with myself? I started going to an event called Sex Club. A safe and wonderfully held space that facilitates open and honest sharing around sex. See, I've always been really interested in sex: to the point where I'd feel a bit weird and obsessive. This interest in sex has many manifestations – one of them being the desire to talk about it frankly and in detail with others. (I believe one of the best things about friendship is being able to exchange all the gory and explicit details about one's sex life and desires). Other manifestations include a love for erotic art, reading lots of books around sex, discovering tantra and play parties... and obviously having sex, albeit unconsciously. And I'm sure there are lots of others I'm just not mentioning here! However, masturbation was not one of them.
At Sex Club another attendee made reference to a sex shop for women based not too far from me. I paid a visit to this shop and instantly fell in love with the warm welcome and safe atmosphere that felt free of the shame and seediness of many other sex shops I'd been to before. It was at Sh! that I picked up a copy of Sex Drive by Stephanie Theobald. I was drawn to the garish cover and blurb that described Stephanie's sex-themed road trip around the USA to find herself after years being in a sexless relationship. It resonated heavily with where I was at the time. I devoured this ricocheting romp around the States as Stephanie reignited her relationship with her own inner flame and her yoni through masturbation. And it inspired me to really work on the relationship I had with my own sexuality: through masturbation. Sex Drive also introduced me to several other key books that totally rocked my world: Sex for One by Betty Dodson and Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas.
But reading Sex Drive and then beginning a daily masturbation ritual made me truly wake up to the fact that masturbation is so essential: for physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual health. It's the foundation for establishing a healthy relationship with one's sexuality and lays the groundwork for having fulfilling sexual relationships with others. It is instrumental in letting go of sexual shame and trauma (at least it has been for me) and is a powerful tool for meditation. It is effective at bringing one out of the mind and into the body and is excellent for improving body acceptance. It also relaxes and energises me and can be used as a tool for manifestation (I always set an intention before beginning my masturbation – or 'medibation' – practice).
In general, I feel that masturbation is culturally seen as the poor cousin to sex with a partner. Would you agree? It's not something that is openly talked about, it's used to quell frustration rather than being a pleasurable act of itself and for many, it's an act that's rushed, with orgasm being the main objective and end goal. (Reminds me of lots of my younger sexual encounters).
But I see masturbation and sex with another as two very different things: neither replaces the other, nor would we want them to. But both activities can enhance the other. It always irked me when I have expressed a desire for sex with another and the reply I got was 'have a wank'. Or when people think that if they are having regular sex with a partner that masturbation is no longer needed. Worse yet are those (sorry to generalise) heterosexual men who get threatened by their partner's vibrators. I think, whether in a sexual relationship with another or not, physical self-love is something that must be maintained. Exactly like you'd continue looking after your general health even if you fall into a relationship with another.
Since connecting with my sexuality with less shame and more consciousness, I have come to realise that sexuality is what brings together our primal nature with our transcendental, spiritual nature. It connects us to our bodies, grounding us, and can also open us up to the cosmos. How it has become something to be shameful of is saddening and a block to us evolving more as a species.
I wish that everyone could awaken to the inherent power of their own sexuality: not just to heighten their own sexual pleasure but to create a more loving and awakened world.
Naive it may sound, but if we lived in a world that embraced pleasure – all kinds – more fully and with less shame, we wouldn't have half the problems we currently face as a species.
Featured image by Anthony Peyper.