“Taking a Bath”—My Soapbox about Self Pleasure
It is May Masturbation Month. Happy Self Pleasure Month! I have so much to say on this topic—I teach about it in my retreats and workshops, I have a strong belief self pleasure should be a consistent part of sex education, and I talk about it enough to clients, colleagues and friends/family people greet me with “Hey Juliana and YES I’ve been enjoying a great self pleasure practice or I need to add more self pleasure in my life?”.
It is one of my missions to make self pleasure something that is normal to talk about, to remove the shroud of shame surrounding it and to frankly, just not make it a big deal in the negative column and a fun, great thing positive column of sex life.
I didn’t know what self pleasure was for girls until college. I kid you not.
I knew boys ‘jacked off’ and I knew there were some things I could do that would feel good ‘down there’ but I had no idea what I was doing was self pleasure.
I was sweetheart to a fraternity and hung out with them a lot as they were like a band of big brothers for me. They would often forget I was in the room during shit-giving talks or hanging out times. Any topic was up for grabs. One day it led to talking about jerking off. Typical discussion of them talking about it, jokingly. Then one of the guys asked me what I did. Me? “I don’t do that.” Record scratch. And for the first time, I actually felt judged by them. The group who didn’t judge me. And immediate disinterest. And disbelief. They thought I was repressed and not admitting it and they were bored. I was stunned. I was honest. I really didn’t. Or rather I didn’t think I did.
One took me aside as the conversation moved on to other topics. He said—“Juliana. No way you don’t do that to yourself. We don’t care, just don’t lie.” To which I said I really didn’t and didn’t understand how a woman would even be able to do that to herself.
It is still crazy to think back to that time in my life and realize I had NO IDEA what I was talking about. At 20 and look at what I do now. Wild.
So this guy kindly walked me through it. Told me some things to do to myself. Made it super normal. Didn’t objectify me or it. Convinced me it would still feel good even if someone else wasn’t doing it to me and I should find some private time and try it. He even warned me it may take a few times to try it before I liked it and felt comfortable. I went to a pretty sexually liberal school and THIS WAS STILL news to me. Me and my friends talked tons about all this sex-nothing was off limits. But self pleasure wasn’t considered sex and women doing self pleasure just wasn’t in the mix. AT ALL.
So I found a time to be alone in my dorm room and I did what he said to do.
And he was right.
It took some practice but I liked it. Loved it. Got it. All the fuss.
I saw him on campus a few days later across the Quad and he looked at me. I smiled and he laughed and gave me a thumbs up. Now that’s a liberal arts education…..
It clicked for me.
The things I did as a child that brought me pleasure—THAT’s what that was. Girls could do it. Girls could feel pleasure solo. That’s what those feelings and desire were.
And I wondered—why didn’t we talk about it? Why wasn’t it taught to us? Why did guys talk and joke about it but no girls were sharing it?
Nowadays things are different. My son’s generation of high school-college kids there is much more of a discussion about it than there was then. Thank goodness.
But it still isn’t enough. We need to have sex education programs that teach anatomy in a way that explains basic functioning but also spells out the connection of anatomy to self pleasure.
We need to teach our kids that self pleasure is healthy and important on many levels.
- So they know their bodies.
- So they are creating neuropathways of pleasure.
- So they know they can release sexual tension solo and it doesn’t have to be with a partner exclusively.
- So they have healthy ways to explore pleasure and orgasms instead of finding misinformation through porn about pleasure.
- So they aren’t raised in a culture of shame about a biologic drive that we experience as humans. It needs to be normalized.
- So they can access self pleasure as a tool for stress relief, soul connection, hormonal flooding and basic sexual health.
We need to allow self pleasure to be a normal topic of discussion so that:
- They are raised to be able to talk about it with a philosophy that it is as important as sexual connection with others.
- They have the ability to assess if their self pleasure practice is healthy—“too much” or “ too little”. (I don’t believe in “too” anything with most people but it is our current terminology so I’m using it for brevity.)
- They don’t feel betrayed by their bodies for wanting something that is natural but are in an environment where they are told it is shameful and horrible.
But here is the Big Rub (pun intended): Most of the people raising kids these days were not raised with any of the above beliefs.
You may have them now, you may have grown to have them (like me), but you weren’t given the tools, the words, the techniques or the comfort level to think like this and more importantly in this context to talk about it…..so how in the world can you help change the next generation’s belief of self pleasure.
Most of the people I work with or talk to about this at retreats/workshops, are able to ‘admit’ they masturbate and want to teach their children it is okay but still feel awkward talking about it in depth or with any sort of detail, if partnered rarely talk about it with their partner, and don’t know what to say to their kids beyond ‘It is normal to do that but do it in the privacy of your own room.’ And feel really concerned about how porn use while masturbating may effect their kids’ view of sex and relationship with orgasm.
And I get it. I teach this stuff and when it came time for me to really begin those discussions with my son…I stumbled and stammered. And so did he. I have a daughter and although she is still young, I have begun those talks with her and already feel frustrated by my own self imposed gender differences/bias with the topic. AND I KNOW BETTER. I TEACH BETTER. Yes, it is engrained in me too. In my upbringing inside my home and out in the world. Deeply.
I want to help you start with yourself first. Your comfort level. With self pleasure skills. With your view of self pleasure’s place in your life. With your relationship with self pleasure-past, present and future. I want you to really understand how good a healthy self pleasure practice is for you-and all in your life.
And if you are a parent, I want you to work on this in your own life so you can be a positive model for your children, so you have a deep comfort with the topic so you can talk about this in rich discussions with your kids, and so you can help change the view of this for the next generation.
We need this. Desperately.
Back to college…. After my “awakening” I started talking about it. We began a code phrase “Taking a bath” (one of my friends ‘admitted’ she would go under the faucet while drawing a bath and would reach orgasm due to the stream of the water). That was BIG for us—to admit we were doing it, to support each other in showing we had self pleasure as a birthright, and to make it something fun and funny to talk about. This was a turning point in my personal and professional life.
I want to help you find your own turning point.
Next week I will be telling you about the naked workshop I attended and how that was the second turning point in my life with self pleasure. You will want to read about it. Stay tuned.
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X oh, Juliana