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August 20, 2018 | by  | in Talking With My Dad About Sex |
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Talking With My Dad About Sex

Dear Salient,
Today I sat in shit at the park while reading your magazine. I think you owe me one. Please provide a how-to on masturbation; ya girl is lost in this department, and as you mentioned in the Opinion edition, we’re not taught this in Sex-Ed.
Yours truly, Tired of Hearing About Orgasms Being The Best Shit Ever.

Please note: We are assuming that you are asserting that you have a vagina in this question, though there are many people who aren’t female that have vaginas and many people with vaginas who don’t consider themselves female.

Lena says: I guess the first thing when it comes to anything sexual, but especially such a shame-filled topic as female masturbation, is to try and be comfortable with the notion of giving yourself pleasure. The idea that it’s totally fine, and pretty bloody beautiful, to take time to pleasure yourself is not really part of everyday discourse. Mental barriers can make masturbating really difficult, not only do they prevent people from trying it at all but they can also hinder one’s ability to be aroused, i.e. your vagina may struggle to lubricate itself.
On a more physical level, there are lots of different ways people like to masturbate. For people with vaginas, some common ones are rubbing their clitoris, vaginal penetration (with a sex toy or other objects – just clean anything before and after insertion!), grinding on pillows, vibrators, anal play, shower heads, or a combination of the above and more. The best thing you can do is experiment to try and find what feels good to you. Buying and using some lube can be helpful to get the party started if you are struggling to become physically aroused, sometimes even just using your own saliva on your fingers before rubbing your clitoris and vulva can make a real difference.

I would also encourage you to think of masturbation as not simply trying to reach orgasm but instead as any time you take to pleasure yourself and connect with yourself erotically. If you are a seasoned masturbator you may be pretty used to just whacking things out before bed and that’s totally fine, but if you are struggling to enjoy masturbation I’d recommend setting aside time to just explore without pressure to come. Things such as putting on clothing that makes you feel sexy, listening to sensual music, reading erotic literature, or watching movies you find erotic (which may or may not include some kind of porn), or even taking erotic images of yourself can help you reach a state of arousal, making masturbation more pleasurable.

Dad says: Following on from a couple of Lena’s points I would stress that pleasuring yourself is as much about what’s happening between your ears that what techniques or tools you use. What’s erotic for you is a very personal and sometimes very idiosyncratic thing.
Some people have erotic fantasies and notions that are at odds with what they want in real life (e.g. rape fantasies or enjoying watching orgies). Other people don’t like to think about anything directly sexual when they masturbate (e.g. a focus on the build-up to sex, the sexual tension, is more of a turn on than picturing people having sex). So as well as the permission to give yourself pleasure, you also need to gift yourself the permission to like what you like, to be turned on by what turns you on. Part of the joy of solo sex is that you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s feelings, judgements or preferences. You do you, and enjoy it.

Having said that, there are things that can be learned about the practical techniques of masturbation. If you’re brave, you could talk with friends about the nitty gritty of what works for them.
However if you want to keep it more private, there are lots of suggestions available online. Try googling “masturbation guide” and have a read. Some offer very specific advice on techniques you can try. ( I particularly enjoyed one on the BBC website subtitled “A guide to dating your down under” that had titles like “Scissor Sisters”, “Princess and the Pea”, and “Escargot”!). As well as being useful for self-pleasure it can also give you language and techniques to share with a partner. Have a look and try and find one that interests or appeals to you. But remember in the end, there’s no “right” way to do it — what matters is what you enjoy.

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About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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