Everyone laughs at the line in a movie where the mom tells her greasy-haired teenage son not to touch himself because he’ll go blind. Girls will giggle quietly at this joke while guys laugh uproariously. Males seem to recognize this message for the comedy that it clearly is, and as a result they have an easier time talking about masturbation. I have a group of guy friends who all live in a house together. Not only do they openly reference masturbation — how often they do it, when they were doing it — but they go so far as to try to catch each other doing it. I thought that seemed like a game in which everyone involved lost, but hey, if they want to catch each other petting the one-eyed snake, who am I to judge?
My girl friends, on the other hand, can barely say the word “masturbation” without blushing, and I think that’s a pretty widespread phenomenon. For some reason, females have largely internalized the idea that self-pleasure is unacceptable, and that they don’t need to (or shouldn’t, or maybe even can’t) touch themselves because someone else is supposed to be doing it. The question coming from the happily attached, regularly-getting-some audience is: If someone else is pleasing me, why do I need to do it myself? And the masturbators in the audience are quietly laughing, because they know better. In high school, my three closest friends were all girls I had known since elementary school, and we convinced our slightly over-protective parents to let us go to beach week after we finished our senior year. At Myrtle Beach, we decided to go to lingerie party, so we spent the whole day searching for the perfect sexy-but-not-skanky outfits (little did we know that one, such things did not exist in Myrtle Beach and two, college was going to rock our worlds). It was nearing the end of the day, and we wandered, tired, discouraged, and desperate into a place with blacked out windows called Lulu’s Lingerie. The place was light on the lingerie, but heavy on the dildos, handcuffs and porn. In spite of the fact that we had been friends for nearly 10 years, the four of us didn’t talk about sex very much; two of us had significant others and two of us were riding solo, and none of us really knew how much information was actually too much. What we found was that being in Lulu’s made all of us a little uncomfortable. However, our intrigue won out. So right there, in the middle of the sketchiest store I have ever seen, (the door to the viewing room was right behind us, in case you needed a porn break) we had our first conversation about sex toys and masturbation, and I swear to you, I learned things that I bet Lulu herself could not have taught me. The two of us that had gone on the trip with significant others talked about how we didn’t really know what we liked, and no, we didn’t really touch ourselves, our partners did, and yeah, of course it was fun! Oh, did we orgasm? No, not really that often … I mean sometimes … well, maybe. We weren’t really sure if it was an orgasm … And as the conversation went on, our single, much more self-actualized friends looked incredulous, and even a little sorry for us. They talked about how they knew exactly what they liked, and shared some tips with those of us who weren’t as lucky. And they told us that they could come whenever they wanted! No partner? No problem! To make a long story short, Lulu’s probably saw more business that day than it had in quite a while. My single friends had taken the initiative to map out what had always been uncharted territory for me, and had struck gold. Not only were they successful in finding the elusive female orgasm, they were also empowered; they didn’t need someone else in order to be sexually fulfilled. They could do it themselves, and they could do it better.
If I could give my high school self some advice, it would be to spend more time figuring out that uncharted territory. I wish I had known that I should have made time for me in order to get to know what I liked, and I wish I had known that I wouldn’t go blind. In fact, things might have even been a little clearer than they were before.
__Krystyna Holland is a Flat Hat sex columnist and recently bought a new pair of glasses but has yet to lose her sight. Contact Krystyna at [email protected]__