I just got back from sex:tech where I got to spend three days falling in love (again) with my career. And in addition to continuing my own education, I had an opportunity to hang with my virtual friends, colleagues, and tweeps. You know who you are.
Interesting though, that in all of the panels I attended (and even the one that I moderated), one word never came up: masturbation. That word came up socially, when Heather Corinna (of the ever popular and fantastic, Scarleteen) and I were talking on our walk to dinner.
Many people familiar with my speaking engagements know that I love to talk about masturbation. If you attended Sex Week at Yale in February, my entire lecture was devoted to the history, implications, gender politics, innovations, and pop culture references surrounding masturbation. And I’m pretty sure the subject came up at last week’s Northeastern University’s Sex Week lecture, too. Needless to say, I have masturbation on the brain.
When I am working with parents of young children, the “what to do” question always comes up. “What do I do if I see my child touching him/herself (usually the child in question is a boy)?”
Full disclosure: I can’t stand using the word “private” to talk about body parts and masturbation. For me, “private” implies that it’s something you aren’t allowed to talk about. That something is so problematic that it needs to be dealt with behind closed doors. I use a different framework when talking about masturbation.
Masturbation is something that should be respected. You should have the time and personal space that you need to explore your body (whether it’s deliberately sexual or in an curious exploratory way). It’s a different way of dealing with a child masturbating, sure. But the take home message is far more healthy (and a lot more cost effective since you won’t be sending your kid into therapy).
There’s a reason that we like to talk (or whisper) about masturbation that has nothing to do with its “sinful” past. Masturbation is important. (Oh crap, I said it. Can’t take it back now.) It’s important for developing a healthy sexuality and a healthy relationship. We need to know that our bodies are capable of sexual pleasure without a partner. We need to know that we are sexual beings regardless of our gender, orientation, partner status, or level of sexual experience. We also have to begin to recognize that if we don’t know how our own bodies work, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for a partner to magically figure it out.
Yes, when I talk about masturbation, I do so fully knowing that females typically get left out of the discussion. No more! Masturbation is not just a “boy” thing. It never was, but somehow we keep forgetting this. Girls, you are entitled to pleasure, too. The sooner we realize this, the less likely we are to participate in pleasure-less encounters. We don’t have to rely on someone else for pleasure. We too can do it on our own. And when it comes to eventually engaging in a relationship? We’ll be better equipped and better versed in speaking up for ourselves.
I could go on for days, but I am exhausted. Too much fun at sex:tech and now it’s time to turn in.