Brown lady's legs shown with blankets over the rest of the body above the knee and white sheets under the legs

The Act/Art of Self-Pleasuring

May is National Masturbation Month. The idea began in 1994 when the former surgeon general, Dr. Jocelyn Elders, recommended that information on masturbation should be included in general sex education courses. This campaign led to an uproar of controversy, leading to Dr. Elders being forced to resign. The following year, a sex store located in San Francisco, CA launched “Masturbation Month” to promote their sex toys and merchandise as well as spark conversations about the benefits of self-pleasure. Since then, Masturbation Month has progressed and developed to address the stigma associated with masturbation and self-pleasure.

Masturbation is one of the biggest sexual taboos to this day. The topic and act aren’t just a mystery or taboo for young adults but even for adults with established lives and families who have never been properly educated on the benefits and importance of it. Esther Perel, a psychotherapist, says that from a young age, people are told touch, especially self-touch, is bad. This is something that is taught from parents, educators, and influencers to children and young adults. Without being properly educated and informed on masturbation and self-pleasuring, many people struggle to ever be able to pleasure themselves outside of partner interactions and often even in partner interactions.

What Holds People Back from Masturbating?

Some of the most common reasons people don’t masturbate are because of religion, culture, body and body image, or a “lack of permission.” These things can create a mental block that stops someone from enjoying or even trying masturbation. All over the world there are religions and cultures that deem the act of self-pleasuring and gratification as wrong, indecent, and overall, something that shouldn’t be done. This stigma can lead to many people struggling to properly orgasm, whether alone or with a partner, and it can also lead to many people not understanding their bodies and desires completely. There are many people that struggle with the look or feeling of their own bodies, often due to body dysmorphia for several reasons, which can make it difficult to desire self-pleasure. 

Eventually, these things can potentially lead to a decrease in libido, sexless partnerships, an increase in hostility, and so much more throughout adulthood. So, if you’re struggling to enjoy the act, what’s holding you back? Whether it’s any of the common reasons or something else, thinking about that mental “roadblock” and fully processing it might help you understand yourself more.

Why is Masturbation Important?

For many, masturbation may not seem like it is that important, but once you think about the numerous benefits of it in different aspects of your well-being then it could help you understand why. The act of self-pleasure can help you connect with your body on a deeper level. It can help you understand what you like and don’t like sexually, become more confident in your skin, as well as help you destress and relax when you might need it most. Being able to understand and learn your own body, will help you understand how to express it to a partner so that you can fully enjoy your sexual experiences.

Masturbation can also help you connect to the divine. Though self-pleasure may seem far from spirituality and religion, it can actually help you connect with your inner spirituality and accept yourself more mentally. When you practice doing self-pleasure and masturbation as a way to connect rather than disconnect from everything, it can lead to a fulfilling connection with yourself, mentally and physically. Betty Dodson, a renowned sex educator, claims that masturbation is the foundation for sexual fulfillment, a stimulant for pleasure, and “the reliable foundation of social and emotional independence.”

Dodson has also stated many times over the last several decades as a sex educator that masturbation and self-pleasure are the safest forms of sex you can have. You can’t contract an STI nor conceive a child by masturbating, allowing for a decrease in stress and worry of these possibilities that would be otherwise had in a sexual interaction with a partner.

Benefits of Masturbation

  • Decrease stress and anxiety.
  • Act as a sleep aid.
  • Help in understanding erotic turn-ons and offs.
  • Reduce pain, especially headaches.
  • Help in building trust, with oneself and others (partner masturbation).
  • Help connect to both mind and body.
  • Allow for sexual fantasy exploration.
  • Help make for better sexual experiences.

There isn’t any particular way to masturbate, and if after reading this you still don’t feel like masturbation is for you, then that’s ok. It’s all up to what you’re comfortable with your body, mind, and spirit. If you’re struggling to understand what works for you within self-pleasure then try new toys, new techniques, new positions, new stimulants, or even a new environment. Trying something new and different is how you find out what works for you not just the next person because we’re all different and that goes for what we like in sexual situations as well. Make it a special moment in your day by lighting candles, turning the lights down low, and even try using massage oils to make this moment for yourself even better. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the act of self-pleasure because it is truly an art of self-love and care.

Exercise. Meditate. Masturbate.

C & K

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