#SWAAYthenarrative

Why We Should All Be Celebrating Masturbation May

5 Min Read
Health

As we are all stuck indoors for the time being with the chaos of the world weighing heavily on our minds, I can't help but feel painfully… not horny. Clearly I love sex, I own a sex toy store! It's masturbation month! But I've gotta say that my masturbation has become more to-the-point than ever. As a sex educator who frequently preaches about sexual pleasure not being goal-oriented or orgasm-focused, I've actually been doing just that — masturbating briefly with my reliable sex tools and porn as to reach the blissful stress-relief of orgasm as efficiently as possible.

While my utilitarian solo sessions are uninspiring on the outside, I am simply thankful to be able to orgasm given that I had partnered sex for years before I ever masturbated. I wouldn't have ever figured out my own orgasm at the rate I was going with partners while neglecting to explore my own body. Sure it took plenty of trial and error, and I still rely on a few tried and true formulas to orgasm, but that's perfectly okay with me. My masturbation is serving the purpose I need it to serve right now.

It's uncanny how often I hear masturbation characterized as a substitute for partnered sex at it's best, and "cheating" on a partner (or... god) at it's worst.

I know for a fact that my personal "blah" attitude towards sexual stimulation is not representative of the way everyone else is feeling right now. I sext with people who subscribe to my paid fan sites, and that is a direct window into some people's world-of-horny. I'm having people tell me all about their countless solo sessions, begging me to set limitations on their self-pleasure because their desire is so uncontrollable. If there is an undetermined period of time until we can actually fuck other people again, then they want to experiment and try out every last thing their brain can think of to create new experiences with solo play, and I applaud that.

It's uncanny how often I hear masturbation characterized as a substitute for partnered sex at it's best, and "cheating" on a partner (or… god) at it's worst. With all this talk of "me time," we think about hydrating face masks and baths, but not the type of "me time" that involves you fucking yourself. Whether you masturbate for tension relief, entertainment, meditation, eroticism, exhibitionism, you name it, it is GOOD for you.

It's hard to get the entire lay of the land without a hand mirror, especially for people with vulvas.

Masturbating not only helps us connect with our inner selves and our outer bodies, it makes partnered sex a lot better as well. While I'm sure the opposite is true for some, and partnered sex enhances masturbation, it's pretty hard to communicate what you want from partnered sex if you have no idea what pleasures your body seeks during alone time. One barrier to entry for mastubation is simply being acquainted with your own anatomy. It's hard to get the entire lay of the land without a hand mirror, especially for people with vulvas. While it can also be sweet to do some anatomical exploration with a partner, the alone time with your parts without any added eyeballs present really helps you get acquainted and comfortable.

There isn't any right or wrong way to masturbate. I remember how limited I felt when I thought I was supposed to just use my own hands, I felt like something must be wrong with me for not achieving orgasm from just rubbing and fingering myself. If only I had known that vibrators were the tools that could get me there, with or without added fingers/dildos/penetration, I could have saved a lot of heartache beating myself up over nothing.

When we talk about shame around masturbation, we typically think of religious shame. That's a huge component of sexual shame, but even if religion had no impact on you, masturbation shame still exists in our sex-negative society. I speak with a lot of people who feel ashamed of their desire to use a vibrator, feeling that it either is "unnatural" and could potentially harm their bodies (which isn't possible) or that it will emasculate a partner. Some are too embarrassed to even broach the subject. I totally get where those feelings come from too — even as a vibrator salesperson I used to shy away from hauling out my Magic Wand in front of a hook up partner, and I have definitely felt ashamed that I needed a vibrator to get off when my friends spoke of manual stimulation or orgasms from penetrative sex alone.

Why are some of us ashamed of the tools we use to get off (especially in solitude) when we would never feel ashamed of using a power drill to help us construct something?

But hey! There isn't a single aspect of life that isn't enhanced by tools. Sure we don't need tools to eat, but every single one of us uses tools to enjoy a meal: plates, forks, chopsticks, and so on. Tools like this date back to the dawn of humanity. Why are some of us ashamed of the tools we use to get off (especially in solitude) when we would never feel ashamed of using a power drill to help us construct something?

Masturbation is also limited by the types of strokes we have been taught are appropriate for our assigned gender. Vibration, as well as rubbing, humping, and penetration are considered to be "feminine" while jacking, stroking, and thrusting are "masculine" in our society. Any genital configuration can enjoy these types of stimulation, so why limit yourself? At the end of the day, our genitals are made of the same tissues. Those expectations of what masturbation should be like based on gender limit all of us in our ways to experience pleasure.

So maybe you're overwhelmed by your horniness or maybe you're rolling your eyes at the thought of masturbating in the midst of a pandemic. Wherever you're at, it's all good. While I always encourage people to masturbate for the sheer sake of endorphins and the physical benefits of pleasure, I'm sure a lot of us also need a bit of inspiration or maybe just an ice breaker.

This month, I am excited to be sharing masturbation themed content, including weekly Touch Yourself Tuesdays with some very special guests! Our first guest is Spectrum team member and Journal writer Carly S. who will be joining yours truly for a conversation on all things solo sex — I think we have some very fun and funny takes on masturbation that you'll enjoy.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?