While many conversations about sexuality live beneath our tongues, I cannot understand why we continue to whisper our experiences with masturbation. As a sexuality writer and advocate, I tend to be a bit more vocal than most women about sex, society, and intimacy. Yet, every time I make an off-hand comment about my beloved rubber rabbit with an extended dildo, a woman in my circle will open up about her own self-gratifying experiences. Then, the questions pour in.

“Girl, what kind of toys do you use?”

“Do you have any recommendations?”

“Will you go with me to the adult store to pick one out?”

Thankful to have someone who won’t pass judgment, I find that many women will openly share their sexual experiences. It’s this type of “open” environment that allows the free flow of knowledge about self-pleasure and bodily satisfaction. I gladly share my enjoyment of masturbation, and not because I’m looking to create wide eyes and blushing cheeks. I don’t talk about sexuality for the “shock value.” I simply want to foster a truthful conversation, and tell women—young, middle-aged, and old—that the action of pleasuring your own body is normal. I have yet to meet one person in my 20-something years of life who hasn’t fondled herself in some capacity. Let’s just be real.

Admittedly, I didn’t get my first toy until this year, and it was a gift from a man. Yes, you read that correct. I had mentioned that I wanted one, but, frankly, I was scared to go into a sex store, have an awkward conversation with a weird sales clerk, pick one out, and then take my debit card out to pay for my pleasure at the counter. Almost like a wingman, he made the shopping experience quite fun. I chose what I wanted and, even better, he footed the pretty expensive bill, first pack of C-batteries included! If you’re wondering why your man would buy you a vibrating dildo, think logically. He’s not there, you need to get off, and your orgasm shouldn’t have to be dependent on his “talents” at all times. Similar logic can be applied to women in lesbian relationships. Regardless of sexual orientation, your partner ought to be an advocate for around-the-clock pleasure. His gift made perfect sense to me!

Touching your body can be the sweetest, euphoric gift. Rubber rabbits, flexible dildos, plexiglass vibrators, pelvic massagers, personal fingers, you name it—pleasure can be a personal sport. I gladly play on “team masturbation,” and sport the jersey vocally and proudly.

When I was reading Paulo Coelho’s novel, Veronika Decides to Die, the main character, a woman living in a mental asylum, has the “freedom” without judgment to masturbate. Since “crazy” people can be expected to do “anything,” I found it fascinating that this particular environment created a space for people to acknowledge their sexual urges and act on them through personal gratification. I began to ask myself why discussions of masturbation remain so taboo for women in general. As our bodies have needs and sexual urges, masturbation is a safe way of getting off: no STIs and no risk of pregnancy. You don’t need condoms, birth control . . . shoot, why aren’t more women discussing masturbation as a safer alternative? Maybe this should even be encouraged amongst our hormonal youth.

I don’t think we’re crazy for loving our bodies and pleasuring ourselves. I just wonder why we continue to pad silence around our experiences. Perhaps this goes back to conversations around sexuality being mute in general. Or maybe there’s something uncomfortable about discussing pleasure outside of a two-person traditional context.


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  • kimmy

    Is that a real keychain? Because I want it!

  • I’m still waiting for details of the public toilet routine: number 1 or 2. Lots of wiping with lots of tissue? Or just one swipe and let the rest stay to permeate?

    In NYC, plenty of mentally ill folks were quite happy to pleasure themselves in public: I guess they found a new home here. (No eye rolls here.)

  • anonymous

    I’m happy to be grown woman and over all concepts of shame about sex and sexuality. Masturbation and sexual activity is natural and wonderful. That is all.

  • Peter Sam

    I always thought that masturbation was only in the man’s world. I am not saying that I know only now, I am saying this was our domain. We were discouraged from doing it because we were supposed to go blind if we did, go to hell when we die even.

    Masturbation was nice when I was much younger and sex was all in my mind, those days I could think about making love to some film star and with a few shakes all that milky stuff would rush out with an intensity of a fire hose at full pressure.

    I experienced sex and kids came along, I made love to lots of women mostly African woman and time passed, sex was now few and long between. I found myself, womanless and sexless in my 40s and I tried to do “it”. Before I started I felt so stupid, here I am a grown man thinking about masturbation, even though I am not saying there is anything wrong with it, my imagination would not allow for it. I know what sex is and how impossible my imagination used to be, with all the poses that were in my head, poses I found out to be most uncomfortable in real life, especially with some mature women.

    I come now to a misconception that sex toys are only for women, it is for this reason nothing was really done for us men, I saw one thats a prostate stimulator but that has to go some where where lots of men are not comfortable with. Dolls are embarrassing, made of plastic and so unreal, not to mention the look on the postman’s face when he is delivering.

    I guess for those of us who would love to have sex more often but are without a female partner, must just come to the realisation that our choices are limited and those of us so inclined must borrow from our lady folk and do the same things they do, through a different pathway of course.

    So please girls, just know that we suffer too, we cannot freely talk about our lack or our needs, lots of men have found sexual pleasure with other men only to be castigated and exiled by the very society that’s coming out openly about sexuality, women are finding sexual pleasure with other women and do not go through as much rejection as men. We need toys too but one with all the attributes of a real woman, one that we can come home to, plug her in and make love without her asking whose perfume we have on or why we came home late.

  • Sulaina

    I think its taboo in our community because masturbation’s ties to religion. I grew up Catholic and, man, did the priest and nuns quote every line in the Bible to make sure no one touched themselves. Its seen as selfish and impure. Sex is for reproduction, not pleasure. Denying people desire is inhumane and telling them that they will burn in hell has mental ramifications. Plus, on a more social level, masturbation means that you sit in front of computer screen watching porn all day not wanting a physical relationship. And for Black men to find out that Black independent woman masturbate mean that its all about them. BS! Because women in relationships masturbate too, no matter how good the sex is.