"Because if you don't wanna have sex with you, why the hell would [anyone else]?" (Robert Luketic, The Ugly Truth)
So often, when people tell me that they don't like masturbation, it's said with such discomfort and disgust. And, personally, I just don't understand why. So often they say that it feels impersonal. Distant. Cold. That, without a partner, sex feels pathetic.
How could that possibly be?
And I know that everyone's body is different and everyone is entitled to their own experiences but, like I said before, no one does, will, or ever should know your body better than you do. If someone else can give you an orgasm better, faster, and more efficiently, you should get them to teach you.
Because your pleasure should never be dependent on someone else. You should never have to rely on someone else for your orgasm. It should never feel like something you need someone else to give to you. After all, people come into and out of our lives without warning; the only person guaranteed to always be with you for the rest of your life is you.
Don't get me wrong; I love partnered sex. There's a rhythmic dynamic and connection that I find endlessly interesting, extremely satisfying, and just gosh darn fun. It's an experience unlike any other. I'm not even saying that I like masturbation over partnered sex.
It's just that I just can't quite imagine what partnered sex would be like if I hadn't known and loved solo sex first. If I hadn't known what an orgasm felt like; if I hadn't know what sex could and ought to be. If I hadn't known what my own pleasure felt like without also adding in the extra consideration of someone else's.
How could an act that is meant to know myself better—to learn how my body and mind feels and reacts—feel impersonal? Feel cold, distant, pathetic? How could a person not enjoy something that's meant to give yourself pleasure? That can help you have a better, more satisfying sex life in the moment and in the future?
Personally, I'm a fan of Betty Dodson's take on things. Known as the godmother of masturbation, she realizes that, if you "keep up a sexual relationship with yourself, you can have first-rate orgasms by yourself," making it possible to have a great sex life, regardless whether you currently have a partner or not. Honestly, I've found that if you want to have a great sex life, so much of that starts with you. Knowing how your own body works, what sensations work for you, what ones don't. If you don't even know the basics of you, think about how much harder it'll be to discover that when you add in the complexity of a partner.
Dan Savage points out that most, if not all, boys walk into their first sexual experience knowing exactly how their junk works. They know how to orgasm; they know what it looks like, feels like, they know exactly how to get themselves there. Most girls don't.
And, what's worse, we're taught that that's the way it's supposed to be. That it's romantic to discover one's sexual self with a partner. To have that side of ourselves awakened by someone else. It's supposed to be a sign of a soulmate, to have someone stir these feelings inside of us that no one—including ourselves—could.
But that gets us into trouble. We find and toss away great partners because neither partner knew how to get the sex to spark. We fall too hard and read too much into partners who can manipulate our bodies, even if they also manipulate our hearts and minds. The fact is, if we keep this part of ourselves a mystery—a wonder to be solved without rather than within—we leave ourselves vulnerable. We walk into sex unaware, unprepared, and unready.
According to Dodson, too many of us in the "the post-Sex and the City, post-Girls generation of women [...] are not nearly as liberated as they think they are. 'Most of them haven't even seen their genitals in a mirror. You show 'em and they go eek! Or ugh!'" It's their own bodies and they're unfamiliar with them, mystified and horrified by them. Even if the language has changed over time, we're still feeding girls the message their their bodies aren't theirs. That their private parts hold secrets, even from the very women who possess them. That their pleasure isn't something that belongs to them. That it can only be unlocked and then shared with a partner.
Even visually, we try to make the female orgasm into some kind of a mystery. A male orgasm in a movie is rated PG-13 in the US, while a female orgasm for some reason is rated R, making the very sight of female pleasure unsuitable for a vast number of people. Why? In the media and pop-science, we question whether the female orgasm exists or whether its existence is even relevant. We have how many different drugs and procedures and research dedicated to the male orgasm, and most people—male and female—still don't quite know what the clitoris looks like.
If more women knew how their bodies and orgasms worked and were willing to teach more men—who, for the most part, are willing to learn—imagine what the sex would look like. Would heterosexual, PIV penetrative sex still be the definition of what sex looks like? Would we still so often associate a man's orgasm with the end of the sex act? Would we have the stereotype of the bloody, painful loss of virginity anymore? Of the pregnant teen mom, whose life has irrevocably changed because she didn't realize there were an innumerable ways to get her needs met without risking pregnancy? How about the cold, frigid housewife who always has a headache whenever her husband wants sex? If women came into their first partnered sexual experience—and every encounter after—knowing as much about her own sexual pleasure as a man, would women still be seen as the less sexual gender?
Why do we see partnered sex as an achievement, but solo sex as a setback? Especially if solo can help you have bettered partnered sex? As crass as it sounds, The Ugly Truth got it right, if you wouldn't want to have sex with you, how can you expect anyone else to?
So to all those flying solo, playing a little solitaire, flicking the bean, petting the pussy, or just plain ole masturbating, have yourself some fun!