May is National Masturbation Month and there couldn’t be a better way to fight the stigma about solo sex than devoting an entire month to celebrating the art of getting it on with yourself. Masturbation is self-care after all.
Not everyone masturbates and that’s okay! Sexual health means that you consent to your experience, so if you don’t want to play solitaire, that’s totally fair. But if you want to and you’re not, have you asked yourself: why not?
Or, if you do practice self-pleasure but you struggle with shame, you’re not alone. Most of us are taught all kinds of unhealthy things about sex at a young age that make it hard for us to find our way once we become sexually curious.
We may have been taught that it’s shameful or simply not allowed. We may have been taught that pleasure isn’t for us and that indulging in self-pleasure comes with social and spiritual consequences.
Unfortunately, these kinds of messages come from purity culture, which prioritizes virginity, sexual abstinence, and dismisses female pleasure entirely. When in reality masturbation is a fantastic form of self-care and has many health benefits.
There’s nothing shameful about having a relationship with your body.
One more time for the people in the back.
Think about it: what’s wrong with having a relationship with a specific part of your body? It’s your body. If you want to touch it, you can touch it.
There is no part of your body that’s wrong. There’s no process that your body goes through that isn’t normal. And pleasure is a good thing.
Masturbation brings understanding. Masturbation is self-care. It fosters self-expression. And when we practice self-expression, we are nurturing the most important relationship we’ll ever have: the one we have with ourselves. And masturbation will also help us have healthier relationships with others.
Masturbation teaches you self-knowledge.
Masturbation teaches you autoeroticism. Autoeroticism is tending to one’s own sexual desire, usually through masturbation. It’s literally taking care of yourself. So we can say that masturbation is self-care.
There are many ways that we take care of ourselves. Eating well, getting enough sleep, keeping our homes clean, learning boundaries in our personal relationships. Prioritizing our mental health and practicing stress reduction techniques. Learning to cope.
Having great sex with yourself is an incredibly enriching way to meet your own needs and cultivate a relationship with yourself.
Masturbation teaches us about our bodies, and knowledge is power. Masturbation teaches us what we like, what we don’t like, fantasies that turn us on, as well what our bodies are like. We need to empower ourselves with this knowledge so that we can teach our partners what we like.
Masturbation also teaches us the very important lesson that our bodies are a safe and fun place to be. Solo sex grounds us into our body, while messages of shame keep us disconnected and teach us that it’s not okay to be present in our body. This can make it hard to actually enjoy sex if we eventually decide to have it.
Solo sex is still sex.
Think you’ve never had sex before? Well, have you had sex with yourself? If the answer is yes then you have had totally legitimate sex!
The idea that sex is limited to vaginal penetration is an antiquated belief that prioritizes male pleasure over female pleasure.
Sex does not equal penetration (although your solo sex may involve it), and it’s time to stop discounting all sexual experiences that don’t involve penetration. You can have great sex without penetration or even orgasm. If you’re expressing yourself in a sexual way, that’s sex.
We’re not born knowing what we like.
Our likes and dislikes develop over time. And sometimes they change. This is true for all things, from strawberries to sports to spanking. Some things never change, but others do. Life is about trying new things and checking in with yourself about whether or not you want to be doing something.
If you don’t know what you like, masturbation is an excellent starting point. The most basic question to investigate is: do you enjoy sexual touch? If the answer is yes, then what kind? Where? At what point do you like certain kinds of touch and at what point do you prefer others? What kinds of things do you like to think about?
The answers to these questions give you a guide-map of your sexuality that you can use to find fulfilling relationships.
But you don’t have to masturbate.
Not everyone wants to masturbate and that’s okay too. Masturbation should always be about pleasure and never about doing something you think you’re supposed to be doing.
If your answer to the question "Do you enjoy sexual touch?" is no, then stop! The most important thing about sexual health is to always practice under your consent.
There’s nothing wrong with masturbating if you’re in a relationship.
Masturbating doesn’t mean you’re dissatisfied with your sex life. It doesn’t mean you don’t want your partner. Masturbation is just one facet of your sexuality, and just like it’s important to have hobbies that we don’t share with our partner, it’s also very healthy to carve out time for sex with yourself.
In fact, it can be downright great for your relationship. Having solo sex and encouraging your partner to do the same if they wish to can ensure that you both continue to discover new things to share with each other.
Masturbation can even increase your libido. It’s totally normal for your libido to ebb and flow throughout life, but practicing solo sex can nurture desire and help you through slumps.
Mutual masturbation is a fun way to spice things up as well as teach each other what you like without having to actually say it. Phone sex, video chatting, or just telling your partner about your solo sessions can keep things exciting and help you to avoid becoming stagnant.
However, solo sex can also be just about you. You don’t have to share this part of yourself with your partner. Masturbation is about your relationship with yourself and you have a right to nurture that relationship even if you’re partnered.
Masturbation is self-care.
Masturbation has proven physical and psychological benefits to women, and can be a transformative practice for people who want to unlearn shame and embrace their sexuality.
But it can also help with stress reduction and menstrual pain. It can improve your mood and help regulate your sleep. And if you struggle to reach orgasm, it can take the pressure off, making orgasm possible.
Shame holds us back from discovering what we like, pursuing it, and having pleasurable experiences. Shame around masturbation, sexual preference, and our genitalia keeps us from exploring. But shame can be overcome with a little courage and willingness to learn.
With time and practice, masturbation can become a very fulfilling activity that brings joy to your life.
Want to incoporae masturbation into your self-care routine but not sure where to start? Check out Emjoy's four-part Discover Your Body collection starting with Discover Your Body I and don't miss Emjoy's Masturbation Techniques!
So if you’re curious, be brave and indulge your curiosity this month. Happy masturbating!