The original “doing it yourself” is the art of self-lovin’. Though everybody does it, few people like to acknowledge as anything beyond a punchline. Though the act clearly lends itself to a plethora of one-liners, there’s more stigma to the deed than one usually admits for both females and males.
The Male: by RAYMOND ELIOT
Stop me if you’ve heard this story before: Masturbation. It starts out simple. It took something small at first. A swiped women’s lingerie catalog or a late night skin flick. The arousal comes from the appeal of the forbidden. As time passes, the pimping hand gets strong. Simulated sex and bad dialogue don’t really cut the mustard anymore. Shit gets complicated. Your body aches for that first high, and you start chasing that dragon. Next thing you know, you’ve got a fetish. You’re writing Invader Zim Slashfic with a hand down your pants, and drawing art for communities that would make the collective dead grandmothers of the world spin in their graves. The thought of it makes you even hornier. The erection in your pants might as well be the Tower of Babel and you’re God and you’re gonna cast it down yourself, because all dick analogies are something to do with power. You know that at some point your life took a turn for the worse and you should try try to dig yourself out of this hole. It would probably take all the king’s horses and one Mr. Hands to get yourself back out again, but you’ve already seen that video and now you need something with more of a bite to it. It takes something serious to really get your rocks off. Suddenly, you’re wasting away. You’ve got hairy palms and bad vision. That cough has been getting worse. You feel weak all the time and your whole life is like a Jack Chick comic.
I haven’t reached that point though; I just know a guy who has.
I do like to masturbate though. No denial there. I don’t believe that verkakte idea that masturbation should be something shameful. It is a healthy, natural process that nobody wants to talk about. Probably because it seems ooky and the media depiction is less than stellar. Who masturbates on TV and in movies? The lonely, the nerdy, and the homeless. There is no better way to characterize a male lead as someone lame than having him masturbate. At least men have it better than women.
Women getting the short end of the stick. What a surprise. Girls who masturbate are sluts, and we all know there is nothing worse than being a slut. So, I’m going to say that male masturbation is more publicly accepted (I’m going off of the media and hyperbole here) than its female counterpart, but it is still a verboten subject. I’ll also wager that essentially everybody masturbates, and anybody else is either a liar or just not masturbating in a way that would be considered conventional. It is completely ridiculous that more people aren’t talking about this, or are so ashamed by it. Of course, what I write here won’t apply to everybody. There are some people what are entirely comfortable with talking about themselves and their bodies, and good for them. For the people who aren’t, welcome to the party.
When Stephanie and I got together to work this out, we both decided on a few things. She wanted to talk about how she felt like an outsider when she started masturbating young, and how I felt like an outsider when I wasn’t masturbating at all. We also decided that we should give our backgrounds. I was, in many ways, a late bloomer. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was a freshman in high school. I didn’t bate regularly until sophomore year. I didn’t have sex until college. I remember being in the fourth grade, and the other boys at the Boys & Girls Club talking about whacking off. I was shown pornography while there and it was uncomfortable as hell. Those other guys, who I desperately yearned to fit in with, talked about sex like they were experts. I thought they were going to hell for it. I was raised Mormon. I remember there being a lot of implicit shame toward human bodies and desires in LDS dogma. Even after my family had left the church, I believed that my body’s needs were shameful.
My life reflected this. When my peers were learning about their bodies and getting into relationships and inside one another, I was getting Cloud, Tifa and Cid to level ninety-nine. It seemed like in eighth grade, everybody was fingering everybody else, and talking about it as loudly as they could. I read the entirety of the Redwall series and tons of Star Wars books when I was in the eighth grade. I do appreciate the irony that reading Star Wars books and playing Japanese RPGs are hobbies typically associated with people who spend all the rest of their free time masturbating furiously.
I felt like everybody was at this great party, and I didn’t know how to get there and nobody was going to give me a ride. Stephanie was one of the people who threw the party. I felt left out, because people were talking about masturbating, and I had nothing to say.
I’ve moved past that though. I’m an adult now, and I masturbate as such. Which is weird. For all those people that remember Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Funny how masturbation seems to work like that.
At first, the word “boobs” was enough to set me off. Then my body went and got complicated. For that reason, I almost feel jealous of people that can get off to demure stuff, like feet. Fetishes, in their crippling overspecialization, are astoundingly simple. They don’t even need to be pornographic. If you’re into feet you can grab any shoe catalogue or watch any Tarantino film and you’re set. It can be hard… er, difficult to beat my boomstick and not feel guilty, but for different reasons now. For the most part, my fap fodder is traditional pornography. I use a loose definition for pornography, one that I found on Internet: “porn is any form of media that you immediately lose interest in after you’re done masturbating.” It is an industry that thrives on the exploitation of people, in particular reducing women to mere sexual objects, something that I oppose.
I could easily rationalize it. By pirating everything, I wouldn’t be giving any revenue to the industry, but those women are still being exploited. I’d also be running the gambit of being sued for illegally downloading pornography, and the only way to recover the lost shame is to commit seppuku. As another alternative, I could support women who choose to view the industry as a positive place for self-expression, something that is surprisingly easy to find on Internet. However, this sex-positive “alternative” porn typically means chicks with tacky tattoos, and I have a strict policy against shitty ink.
So, what do I do? Swallow my pride and watch mainstream porn? Or do I ease up my standards and beat my meat to some girl with poorly drawn pink revolvers tattooed next to her tits? Besides, underneath all of the dressing, it doesn’t seem like either option is really that different. No matter what I’m doing, I would still feel like I’m masturbating to the idea that women are essentially walking sex objects. It also puts forward the hope that girls in cheerleader outfits are just waiting to hop into a stranger’s van and dole out the free sex. Or that being a pizza delivery guy actually has benefits other than free pizza.
So, I chose a third option. I stopped watching pornography altogether. It seemed way too hypocritical to watch, no matter how I spun it. It was also unexpectedly difficult. What do I do when I’m bored now? How did people 20 years ago deal with all of the free time?
It is kind of cool too. I suddenly freed up like 20 gigs on my hard drive, and I have, like, five extra free minutes in between classes now. How cool is it that I won’t have to be late for German anymore?
The Female: by STEPHANIE SELF
I have been batin’ for a long time. And I mean a long time. We’ll call it about 10 or 11 years. Either by my own hand or with the help of another human-made instrument, I’ve been pleasuring myself for about half of my life–much longer than I’ve been having sex with other people, which has only been a couple years. At the time I started, however, I perceived myself as being too “innocent” and “young” for that kind of behavior, and often punished myself for it. . I mentally scolded myself afterward and sometimes even physically hurt myself. But to make myself clear, I wasn’t hurting myself in hopes that I would die from it; it was more to compensate for all the pleasurable feelings I didn’t think I deserved. At such a young age, I already had an understanding of guilty pleasure before I knew what it felt like to want to listen to Avril Lavigne all the time.I wanted to do it all the time, but subsequently felt incredibly guilty for it when I did. Without any sort of direct influence from my parents or the adults around me, I was already under the impression that girls just did not touch their “privates,” or “hoo-ha’s,” or “down there.” (The euphemisms for my body parts didn’t help me feel any more in touch, so to speak.) My body was too precious and delicate for such treatment, even by my own hand–especially by my own hand. And how unfortunate is it that I, a female with something as glorious as a clitoris–whose sole purpose is to do nothing but give me pleasure–would feel ashamed of such actions? Honestly, if something this “wrong” feels that good, do you want to be right? I don’t.
The crude, outspoken boys by whom I was surrounded at school were not ashamed to talk about anything they did with their respective penises and, yet, I could never take part in this dialogue. Perhaps this was a unique experience, but, boy, if I wasn’t so ashamed of my own sexual desires, you better believe I would have had a lot to say. But, no, I was different. I was a girl. And I was horny. And if I wanted to do anything about that, then I was probably already a slut or would turn into one. So why did I feel this way? What was it about my culture and society that made me think that loving myself wasn’t okay? Why did I have to wait around for other people to figure out how to pleasure me when I could just do it myself? And how could I expect them to know how to do those things to me if I didn’t know how to do it myself?
Oh, wait, isn’t it because they innately understand how to pleasure bodies with which they’ve had no experience? Psych! I’m certain that many sexual interactions have gone awry because of this very philosophy.
“It is more taboo and dirty for women (than men) to touch themselves ‘down there,’” says Dr. Tory Clark, a clinical sexologist and the human sexuality professor at University of Nevada, Reno. “And a lot of this stuff comes right out of the Bible. There’s Eve vs. Virgin Mary where you have these two extremes that are pretty unattainable.”
Despite these influences, I feel as though I should mention that I did not have a religious upbringing. I had no feelings of shame that stemmed from a group of people from any type of religious organization telling me that what I was doing was wrong and that I would be eternally chastised for it. Religion aside, I still felt like I should be ashamed for what I was doing and had done.
“Receiving no messages can be just as negative as those negative messages,” Clark says. “It’s like the fear of the unknown, and it’s what most kids get.”
And it’s definitely what I got.
When I think about the sexual and emotional turmoil I endured as a youngster for simply making myself feel good, I wish that I was given the chance to enjoy myself instead. Living in the society that we do, I should have felt lucky for being the one to unlock such desires that are so much a part of who we are. Granted, I wouldn’t have understood this at a young age, but I would have at least liked to know that it wasn’t anything to be ashamed about. We all have the opportunity to learn about our sexualities firsthand without feeling remorseful, but we hide them, conceal them, and suppress them. But even when I was the one in power, I had to feel shameful. All I needed was for someone to tell me it was okay to put a pillow between my legs and fantasize about Hayden Christensen! Of course, I have since learned not to feel embarrassed. However, I would be lying like a rug if I said that I feel completely comfortable discussing it in great detail with just anyone. I am internally satisfied with my sexuality and how I treat it, but I am not immune to the pressures and stigmas that existed then and do now. Thankfully, there are women like Cyndi Lauper who cheerfully remind me: “She bop, he bop, a-we bop / I bop, you bop, a-they bop / Be bop, be bop, a-lu bop / I hope He will understand.”