As I approach my third September in COVID, I have to take a moment to celebrate how much I’ve stepped up my masturbation game since social distancing and quarantine limited my partners to just me. For the sake of my stress relief and self-care over these last few years, I’ve had to explore deeper into solo-play–plus, vulva need love, too. It’s been a long journey to get to this point, even though I’m still turning on the dryer or withholding until I have the house to myself for discretion, and I still have so much to try. Touching my body and being a champion of my own pleasure has taken a lot of learning and unlearning.
I remember being younger, probably in elementary school and scooting my tail under the faucet in the bathtub. The butterflies I felt from the pressure of the hot water, and the immediate feeling of shame that my curiosity was nasty. Those few bold moments during bathtime were the only times I would explore my vagina until much later in life.
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I was always taught that this part of my body was off-limits to everyone, including me. It was only to be touched for cleaning purposes until I was old enough to have sex. Which only did me and my pleasure a disservice.
In the time between my uninterrupted bath times and my first experience having penetrative sex that involved a penis, I had consented to people fingering me. Well before I ever explored my body with my own hands. But as a result, I always associated masturbation with the awkward, discomfort I had experienced in dark movie theaters and not so random corners of house parties. When masturbation was so much more than that.
Eventually, in high school, fingers weren’t enough and I had sex. But even then, I didn’t have an orgasm until after I had a baby, years later actually, and I hate that for me. To be clear, this isn’t a diss to any of my partners from that era, that I’m sure were doing the best that they could, but an acknowledgment that my pleasure was as much in my control, as it was for the people I was having sex with.
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It wasn’t until my freshman year of college, my friends and I were sitting around the student union and they started comparing vibrators, and I realized I was the only one at the table who didn’t own one. I remember immediately leaving class that day and driving to the closest adult store, a very sketchy XXX video store that sold different sex toys in the back. I quickly purchased some sad-ass missile-like vibrator and rushed home. Ready and eager to see what the hype was about. Only to realize I hadn’t bought batteries, nobody mentioned batteries. So I postponed my fun while I beat every remote in the house empty until I found enough triple-A batteries to return to my room.
That first time was great, but I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. Over time, I introduced myself to different kinds of penetrative toys, lubricants, different positions and then it all made sense. I had learned what my body did and didn’t like which I was able to include in partnered sex because I could explain what my partner needed to do in order to guarantee I got my nut too.
Later, I spent more time exploring pleasure beyond my vagina. This included some successful anal masturbation. This opened to door, literally, for me to explore anal orgasms and double penetration. But like any other sex I was having, it was a space for me to practice on my own and learn what successful anal sex looked like for my body, and this would assist me in being comfortable with having anal sex with my partners.
Fingers eventually made another appearance once I was more comfortable with touching my body and I was even able to incorporate some toys play into the mix with a vibrator for my finger, Ripples Vibrating Finger Add-On, a small vibrator that slides onto my finger for that extra solo razzle-dazzle.
But, something was still missing.
Unfortunately, I received sex education in the public school system, so masturbation was probably the quickest lesson and pleasure wasn’t mentioned anywhere. As a person with a vagina, I was only informed on masturbation that involved penetration of the vagina. And while I love a good release from some penetrative masturbation, my mind and clitoris was blown once I explored the wonders of external, clitoral stimulation.
I still had at least another ten years of learning about the different toys—from vibrating wands and bullets to pressure vacuum and air suction stimulators. Hell, I’m still finding amazing new shit to try, like this Vibepad from the hump + grind collection at Shop Enby.
These past few months, I’ve spent on solo play that featured parts of my body besides my genitalia. I took time to intentionally seek pleasure from touching areas like my breast, thighs and abdomen. Areas that made me hot when partners touched them but I had yet to prioritize myself. This has actually been one of my favorite parts of masturbation, I’ve incorporated music and mirrors, it’s done wonders for me sexually and even mentally.
At each stage of my masturbation journey, a constant has been mutual or partnered masturbation. During the lockdown I was definitely masturbating on FaceTime and Zoom with partners, finishing together if and when my wifi allowed. Prior to virtual, scheduled orgasms, masturbating in the bed or across the room from another was a favorite. Something about my partners watching me please myself was extremely empowering and a major turn-on, not to mention how sexy it was to watch them.
While I wish I was equipped with all of this understanding during my adolescence, I’m thankful for the journey I’ve been on with my body and I’m excited for what lies ahead. What I do know is that my pleasure is in my hands.
Below I’ve included some hoochie homework, a list to support anyone looking to explore solo-play and their vulva. Below is a list of “8 Ways to Touch a Vulva” from Casey Tanner, MA, LCPC, CST, a sex therapist and creator of The Expansive Group.
- Pairing: Combine Clitoral Stimulation with Vaginal Penetration with a toy, fingers, or penis
- Layering: Massage the clitoris indirectly through the surrounding skin (I.E. Labia or Clitoral Hood)
- Orbiting: Using your finger to trace slow circles around your clit and hood, touching your labia in the process
- Shallowing: Enter the vagina (with a toy, fingers, or penis) Just slightly, circling the opening without fully penetrating
- Broadening: Rather Than Using a finger or tip of a toy, use your palm or a wider surface area to massage the vulva
- Sustaining: Stay inside the vagina for an extended period of time, rather than moving in and out quickly
- Angling: Shift the angle of penetration until you find the spot that feels best for you
- Edging: As you near orgasm, back off a bit from stimulation and repeat
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