By Amanda Vining, IATG ContributorJune 2, 2016
Our bodies are designed to feel sexual pleasure. There are many ways to celebrate our sexual abilities, be it with another person or by ourselves. Letting girls and young women know that it is perfectly okay to enjoy sex is a message that I believe is under-utilized in today’s sexual education and society-at-large. I masturbate regularly, and when I have a romantic partner, I enjoy the times that we are able to engage in healthy, mutually consenting sexual activities. Both forms of sex enhance different aspects of my life, and both are important in their own ways. So what happens when there is competition between sex with your partner and sex with yourself?
I have had partners who have expressed to me their dislike of my personal masturbation. They have said that they only want for me to engage in sex with them, that they view masturbation as a form of infidelity, or (my absolute least favorite), that it is “un-ladylike.” What they fail to realize is that the times I take for masturbation are times I take to be with myself (no pun intended). It is very personal to me. It is a part of my routine that allows me to strengthen the relationship I have with myself. Just as having sex with my partner strengthens our romantic and emotional relationship, having sex with myself brings me closer to my true self as I take the time to embrace the body I live in. I listen to myself, learn about my needs, and educate myself on my boundaries. It is a time between me, myself, and I, and it bears no weight on the relationships I have with anyone else.
A friend of mine once told me that she thought masturbation was disrespectful to her partner. She confided that she felt she was going behind her partner’s back when she engaged in masturbation. I understood where she was coming from because of the societal messages that surround us about the perceived infidelity of masturbation. In a notable episode of Sex and the City, character Charlotte becomes upset when she finds her husband masturbating to a pornographic magazine. Her solution was to tape pictures of herself over the bodies of the women in the publication. The messages that one must think of another human during masturbation or that it is a blatant cry of discontent with one’s partner are pervasive. I would like to take a stand against these messages and say that masturbation is personal and should be defined uniquely by each individual person who chooses to have sex with her/himself. Masturbation isn’t reserved for one gender, nor should it be limited by another person.
When I have a partner who expresses worries about the fact that I masturbate, I do my best to let it be known that the time I spend with myself does not affect the time I spend with my partner. Masturbation doesn’t mean that I am going to cheat or that I am disinterested in my romantic relationships. In fact, it means the opposite. I choose to maintain a strong relationship with myself so that I can be a healthy, confident contributor to my other relationships.
Masturbation can be a tough topic of conversation, but take some time today to discuss it with your partner, come to a decision that’s comfortable for both of you, and eliminate the stigma that comes with masturbation!
Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and advocating for sexual violence prevention on her blog, Talk About Rape (www.talkaboutrape.com.)