No longer a taboo: How I learnt to love masturbation

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For so many people, particularly those with vulvas, masturbation was thought of as something taboo. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “girls don’t masturbate”, I would be a damn millionaire by now! But it never made any sense to me, because I was a woman and I LOVED masturbation.

A time for myself where I can explore my body, feel sexy and maybe have an orgasm or two? Sign me up! But I do understand that if we have this belief of masturbation being something we shouldn’t be doing, or something that should be viewed as shameful, it can really reduce the pleasure we could be having. So if you want to get on the masturbation train straight to pleasureville, first we need to accept that masturbation is for ANYONE who wants to masturbate. Everyone has a right to sexual pleasure, you have rights over your own pleasure and no one and nothing should make you feel ashamed for that.

No more shame!

Now that we’ve kicked shame out the door, let’s get exploring! As we explore our bodies we also need to get rid of any expectations of what we think we ‘should’ be doing when self-pleasuring. There is no ‘right’ way to masturbate, it’s all about pleasure. So if it feels good and isn’t hurting you, we have success! Many may start exploring by simply finding some friction, rubbing against pillows or beds, we can discover our clitoris through our underwear and ease ourselves into the new sensations.

We might then want to start exploring the rest of our body, removing clothing and seeing what feels good for us! Some like their breasts and nipples played with, some find that far too sensitive and might enjoy nipple teasing through a shirt. Some realise they love stroking their whole body, just because we’re by ourselves doesn’t mean we don’t still want to feel desire and erotic anticipation. Now don’t feel pressure to use your fingers for penetration, as the world doesn’t revolve around things going in vaginas (shh, don’t tell the penis’s!). I remember discovering my clitoris and thinking “well this is amazing, why would I need anything else?”. The clitoris is designed with the sole purpose of giving you pleasure, so since we’re focusing on pleasure make sure you’re saying a good hello to it! If you want to involve some finger penetration go for it, again do whatever makes you feel good, just don’t feel like you need to.

The focus should be on pleasure

Now one of the best discoveries I made in self-pleasure was the ability to tease yourself! There is such a belief that masturbation is a quick thing you do to find an orgasm, which just isn’t always the case. Orgasm can be a great outcome for self-pleasure, but the focus again should be on pleasure, sometimes we actually want to delay our orgasm for as long as we can hold out! You can work yourself back and forth from the edge of bliss until you just can’t bear stopping anymore, maybe over an hour after you started. Masturbation can be a long exploration or a quick trip, it’s up to YOU.

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Now maybe we’ve been exploring with our hands for a while, it’s been amazing I’m sure, but we can also start to look into some toys that might lend a helping (or vibrating) hand to our self-pleasure. Don’t be afraid to explore the world of sex toys, they can enhance our self-pleasure and add new sensations that our own two hands just aren’t always capable of achieving.

My first vibrator

Now I feel the story of buying my first vibrator is not uncommon. I went into a hilariously cringey sex shop (which sometimes means they’re the best ones!) and picked the smallest, cheapest and most brightly coloured vibrator I could find! Usually something that even on the lowest setting is too strong and lasts for maybe a month. While not the worst experience with a vibrator, I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly different using my first Womanizer was. Think of going from drinking goon at Uni to having a glass of amazingly smooth vino at a winery, they just aren’t comparable! The Womanizer’s pleasure air technology stops us from experiencing overstimulation while producing some truly incredible sensations. If you want to show your clitoris some love, this is the toy for you!

Whether it’s touching, penetration or sex toys, the important thing is to focus on your own pleasure – then there’s no way you can go wrong.

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Gigi Engle is a sexologist, certified sex coach, and feminist author. She teaches about pleasure-based sex education, masturbation, and the magical wonders that are sex toys. Engle's work has appeared in many publications her articles have been shared over 50 million times. She also writes a popular advice column called Ask Gigi, and her first book, All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life, debuts in January 2020. She has a degree in both English and Journalism from Fordham University College at Lincoln Center. Engle is an original member of The Women of Sex Tech and a certified member the World Association of Sex Coaches.