More on Masturbation

Since this month is national masturbation awareness month, I’m foregoing a video review to bring you two great bits of masturbation material. But before I begin, my dear friend and fabulous sex educator Cory Silverberg, sends out a weekly newsletter, and this week, he begins by saying something worth repeating, or more accurately, copying verbatim, since the message is one I need to remember as well. He writes:

“It’s a common and understandable mistake that the word “sex-positive” somehow should me being positive about sex. But sex isn’t a discrete experience that one can evaluate as positive or negative. Even when we’re talking about something that appears concrete, like a physical sexual encounter between two or more people, there’s no simple way of naming or knowing what each person experiences, or what the encounter itself produces. So we need to ask. We need to stop thinking that we know what sexuality feels like or is like for other people. We need to remember that when we say things like “sex is beautiful” or “masturbation is great” these seem like cruel or ignorant lies to many people for whom the opposite has only ever been true. It seems like strange advice from someone who makes a living talking and writing about sex, but if you really want to help, if you really want to learn, what you need to do is listen to others.”

That being well said, check out Cory’s, “The Rights and Privileges of Masturbation” about analyzing your masturbatory practices and then being able to celebrate masturbation your own way. And then, go check out the Sex Positive Photo Project (there’s that “sex-positive” word again), where photographer Shilo McCabe continues to capture the faces and masturbatory practices of the diverse group of human beings who identify as part of her sex positive community in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful site dedicated to the feel-good reasons why sex-positive SF’ers masturbate. The photos are diverse, capturing fun, honesty and even hints of shame, and while I truly enjoy the appreciation and exploration of self-love, the truth is, I can’t quite shake what Cory said above.

As a sex educator, I seek to teach about pleasure, and I often forget about those in pain. Those who can’t touch themselves for some psychological, moral, physical reasons and who suffer everytime they hear things like “masturbation feels good,” and “it’s good for you.” It doesn’t mean I don’t think masturbation has amazing results it does, but it means I have to look at how I discuss masturbation for everyone. The last thing I want to do is make someone feel wrong for how they feel about touching themselves, even if touching yourself feels right to me.