Dita Parker

Friday, May 25, 2012


When I held the XXX-mas giveaway last December, I put up a poll where I asked how satisfied are you with your sex life. Almost half of the votes landed in the last category, "What sex life?". It wasn't a trick question, but I later realized that I was in fact implying that to have a satisfactory sex life, you had to be having partnered sex, when in fact we all have a sex life. Sometimes the only sex we're having is with ourselves. Now there's a till-death-do-you-part relationship worth cherishing and cultivating since it is a life sentence.

We are born sexual beings and we die sexual beings. Some life stages see more one-on-one action than others, but sexual health remains a component of overall health, right up there with diet and exercise, throughout our lives. The strength of the drive varies from person to person, and even within the lifespan of an individual, your sexuality, your likes and dislikes, change and evolve. Nothing is mandatory when it comes to sex. There is no to-do list. But I can't think of a better way of keeping up with your body than keeping in touch with it, hands-on. Exploring how you respond and react, learning how you like to be touched, what turns you on. In that area, you should be expert, the authority.

But it's not just you and your hand anymore, you're in a relationship, you say? Congratulations! But that's an altogether different relationship, one I hope is not interfering with the one you have going with yourself, and I'd hate for that connection to be severed. I'm glad if you're having hot sex with someone eight days a week, but it's not like you're cheating on them if you go for a tug or rub one out every now and then. More like you're being unfaithful to yourself if you never do!

Statistics indicate that up to 89 per cent of women and 95 per cent of men masturbate. It's not a substitute for sex but a foundation on which you build, through life. A complement, a supplement, even while you're having hot sex with someone eight days a week. I hope they make you happy and you make them happy too, but I also hope you don't exist for each other in the sense that you're each others only source of joy, happiness, or pleasure. That's not love, that's codependency.

I submit to you that it's hard to be a masterful lover if you haven't mastered the art of self-love. If you're uncomfortable with yourself, how could you be comfortable with someone else? If you find no pride or pleasure in your body, do you expect to feel it in someone else's hands? If you can't give yourself an orgasm, is it fair to expect someone else to give you one?

Sorry about the Spanish Inquisition. There certainly has been enough of that to go around through the ages. Even the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Sumerians were more enlightened in these matters. And then the Church Fathers decided God hates wankers. Doctors joined the hate parade. In the introduction to Mark Twain's essay on masturbation, there's a passage from a century-old medical text clearly condemning self-stimulation as self-abuse, a sin worse than theft that destroys both body and soul and paves the way for diseases and mental disorder leading to suicide. Victorians may have treated female hysteria by getting women off, but men wasting their life force were offered pills, chastity belts, and clamps and cages sure to make men writhe, and I don't mean in pleasure. A mere century ago.

Fast forward to 1971 when The Sex Book: A Modern Pictorial Encyclopedia by Goldstein, Haeberle and McBride boldly stated that masturbation was and is the most common form of sexual activity. No one was struck by lightning. The sky didn't fall or the seas rise. Forty years ago. Only forty years ago. It boggles the mind my generation is the first guilt and shame free generation in a very long time, if they choose to be. It pains me to think of all the kids growing in a culture or within a religious community that applies the ostrich logic or openly maligns self-pleasuring as a one-way ticket to hell, illness and insanity.

Myths, taboos, old wives' tales, prejudices and warnings associated with the awful consequences of masturbation still linger. At the very least, it's a selfish act. Before you know it, you're watching porn or reading those trashy, filthy books, erotic romances, all day, or both!, while your balls shrink and hair falls out, and besides only nasty, dirty teens do it. The. Horror.

You are entitled to your opinion, religious groups to their beliefs and cultures to their norms, but doctors had a change of heart after some extensive research into the matter. Modern medicine men and psychologists have come to the consensus that masturbation is not only healthy, it comes with health benefits.

Unless you're up to something illegal or unsanitary, it's the safest sex you'll ever have. Maybe you're abstaining from partnered sex, maybe you're in between partners, maybe you're not ready for penetrative sex. The itch still needs to get scratched. Release brings relief without the risk of pregnancy or STDs and helps you familiarize yourself with your body, be comfortable in your own skin. You'll be glad you did when it's time to partner up and get it on.

You'll understand your responses and responsiveness better and that can only improve your performance. If you're a sprinter looking to run a marathon, or vice versa, masturbation can help increase stamina and manage delayed ejaculation. Practice makes perfect.

Masturbation is a natural way of combating insomnia, anxiety, pain and stress. Upon arousal, epinephrine levels spike. Another feelgood hormone, dopamine, runs riot on your way to orgasm, and the calming hormones oxytocin and endorphin grant us that sweet afterglow. Other beneficial side-effects of release: the release of cortisol, a hormone which regulates the body's immune system. Masturbation boosts your mood and your metabolism. The more satisfied you are with your sex life, solo or partnered, the more likely you are to enjoy life and good health.

Gentlemen! Regular release keeps the prostate in shape by cleaning out the plumbing. Not a foolproof prevention technique, but a pleasurable way of lowering the risk.

Ladies! Have you ever felt the urge to masturbate when you felt a UTI coming on? Don't fight it, the body knows what it needs, and what it needs is for you to listen to it. Female masturbation provides protection against cervical infections. Orgasming opens up the cervix and the increased friendly bacteria produced move old fluids from the cervix into the vagina. You're not only being lubricated, you're flushing out possibly unfriendly bacteria that can cause infections. Orgasms also strengthen the pelvic floor by giving the entire region a workout during orgasm.

The bad news: with age, vaginal walls thin and become drier due to a decrease in estrogen. It can result in cracks and tears, which in turn can make you susceptible to bacterial infections. Urination and intercourse can become painful, sometimes impossible. Vaginal atrophy can become a problem after or even during menopause. The good news: older women are just as able to become aroused as younger women are. Masturbation keeps the blood circulation in the genitals going strong, strengthens those thinning walls via pelvic workouts and lubricates the vagina.

Many women find that masturbation alleviates premenstrual tension. In a number of studies, women who experienced more orgasms, alone or with a partner, displayed greater resistance to coronary heart disease and type-2 diabetes. A cause for celebration, surely.

Mind, body, and soul. Now there's a holy trinity well worth cultivating since you're stuck with them for life. Leaving even one of them out of the equation leaves you wanting. Each component needs nourishment, each deserves attention and respect, and every single one of them promises pleasure and fulfillment. As long as you take pride in and honor them all, equally.

Your next week's mission, should you choose to accept it, is a self-love date with yourself. Do whatever brings you the most pleasure, as long as it involves the emotional, the intellectual and the physical level. Together or separate, your choice. You're the expert of you. Do whatever you feel would strengthen your relationship with yourself. Confidence is sexy. So is self-awareness of the calm, collected kind. Go get connected.

Lonnie Barbach (2000, 1976). For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality
Betty Dodson (1996). Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving. 
Martha Cornog (2003). The Big Book of Masturbation: From Angst to Zeal.
Komisaruk, Beyer-Flores and Whipple (2006). The Science of Orgasm. 
Thomas W Laqueur (2003). Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2002). The White Paper. Masturbation. From Stigma to Sexual Health.
Joann Ellison Rodgers (2003). Sex: A Natural History.
Mark Twain (2009, 1879). Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism.


Paris said...

Wonderful post, Dita! I think feeling comfortable with and knowing your body is one of the first steps to self-respect:)

Dita Parker said...

Thank you, Paris! I have a lot of fun writing these posts, so it's always nice to hear people enjoy them.

You're absolutely right. And people who let others disrespect them and treat them bad often disrespect themselves first. Or feel ashamed of themselves, or guilty somehow.

Thanks for playing!

Sky Robinson said...

Awesome post on a topic not many will take on.

Dita Parker said...

Wow, thanks, Sky! Can't think of a topic I wouldn't.

Savannah Chase said...

Fantastic post..I think people are still too hush hush about this. It is normal..We are all sexual beings and we need pleasure..

Dita Parker said...

Hi Savannah, thanks for stopping by!

And yeah, I can understand people not discussing their habits and techniques with others, it's a personal, private relationship people have going with themselves and they have the right to keep it that way, but not admitting to themselves how much they enjoy it, now that I can't fathom. It's an investment in your well-being. What could be more important?

Anonymous said...

I think part of the problem with open discussion about this topic is that it's still very much forbidden for a majority of people and thereby makes it difficult for people to talk about. When "it's wrong, it's a sin and it can ruin you from ever having "normal" sex with a partner," has been preached for so long I think it's hard to step away from those ideas and embrace the reality of self pleasuring as a beneficial task.

Dita Parker said...

Ain't that the truth, my friend. We are talking centuries old shaming here and I don't expect everyone to see the light overnight. But if I can help even one person feel better about themselves, my work here is done.