In 1996, the same year that The Vagina Monologues had its debut run at an off-Broadway theatre, I slipped getting out of the bath and bruised my vagina. I was four. For the following week I walked around the house pressing the bruise wondering why it felt both nice and uncomfortable.
My masturbation abilities haven't improved much since.
I'm crap at masturbating. Even though I've been doing it since I was like, 11 years old. I used to put my pillow between my legs and grind around on my bed like a kid pretending to be a worm in a sleeping bag, but that wasn't much good.
As I got older, I graduated to the Sprite fizzy-drink glass bottle, then to the handle on my hairbrush, then to my own fingers, and, in 2015, my boyfriend at the time bought me my first—and currently only—vibrator.
I have a friend who used to have vaginismus. Simply put, this a disorder which causes the muscles of your vagina to clamp up so they won't let anything in, similar to the way you shut your eye if someone is about to jab you with a finger. She had to go to a health professional who slowly, over several weeks, fingered her until she was pretty much "cured." Anyway, she's now happily mazzing away like a solo rabbit, while I'm over here in the corner working out if there's a way to get around the paywall on omgyes.com.
By the way, omgyes.com is a website that gives 12 tried-and-tested techniques to get off with. There are videos and step-by-step instructions and it's a one-off payment of $40, but I'm a cheap bitch who'd much rather spend $40 on a few pints of beer than a highly informative and helpful—according to a couple of friends—bean-flicking website.
Anyway, after an unsuccessful night of yelling into my vagina, I looked into my bowl of cornflakes and realised I needed some expert advice.
Waratah Karleu, who has a Masters of Medical Science in Sexual Health from the University of Sydney, says she approaches sexuality in a "mindfulness way," and views masturbation as a way of exploring self-pleasure. She says we should woo ourselves, light candles, take a bath. She wants people to be "moving sexual energy to be a whole body experience; consciously breathing sexual energy into your body." She notes that a partner wouldn't just jump straight into some fingering.
I'd never even considered that before. But it sounds so obvious now. If a partner goes straight to rummaging around in my vagina without any kind of warm-up, it feels like they're looking for a lost set of keys. So why would I do that to myself?
The problem is, I find solo masturbation kind of boring. Don't get me wrong, I'm a horny motherfucker. I often I have to get my boyfriend to pull the car over somewhere because I've just got to fuck right then and there, on a picnic table, behind a bush, wherever. I don't care as long as he feels comfortable with the location as well. I'm quite caring like that.
So what I've decided to do is teach myself how to avoid solo-sexual boredom and make myself cum. I'm sure, at the very least, it would help me when I can't sleep at night. And when I'm stressed. And when I'm horny by myself, when I'm looking for some creative inspiration, when I'm distracted, when I'm bored at work, shopping in the supermarket, locked in an elevator, riding my bike, waiting in line at Centrelink.
But if I can't even get past finding it boring, then how am I ever meant to give myself a healthy dose of Vitamin O? Thinking about what Ms Karleu said, I turned to another expert for further information.
Bonnie Bliss is a somatic sexologist, tantra massage therapist, and teacher—but mainly a yoni (vagina) specialist. She teaches women how to discover their vagina through a three-hour guided tour she calls "yoni mapping." She's opposed to the way that people think of orgasms as goal-orientated and says people should enjoy the journey. "It's a state of being that arises from being relaxed and open, which is hard to do when you're clenching and tensing everything," she says. "It's when we do this that we get those clitoral sneezes that are only draining afterwards." She describes a "clit sneeze" as the ones that "feel great for 4.5 seconds and then you feel exhausted and the sex is over and you don't want to be touched."
I love a good orgasm. My favourite one is when my body feels like it's full of bubbles and then I can't stop giggling, although I've mainly only cum with partners. I think I've probably made myself cum without anyone else maybe 15 times, tops. And that's probably a stretch. The best time was when I was having phone sex with my boyfriend, so I'm not even sure if that counts as a completely solo time.
Bliss also talks about ridding the pelvic area of tension. "If we want to feel pleasurable sensations, it kind of makes sense that we need to first unclench that tension a bit. So dance, movement, yoga, not sitting all the time, massaging that area ourselves." She says we need to learn to love our vaginas and give them loving attention by doing things like looking at them in the mirror, and thinking friendly thoughts about them. "Vaginas don't like pressure or bad vibes," she says.
It feels like there's this assumption put on women from their teenage years that they're just meant to experts in getting themselves off, and the idea of doing it in a normative-masculine way for women seems absurd. As a friend of mine put it to me: "furiously rubbing yourself dry while watching some fake-titty tanned girl get pummelled in the butthole isn't masturbation." And a friction burn in your pussy would be extremely uncomfortable, to say the least.
Both Karleu and Bliss have similar views about how there is no "secret" to hour-long heart-stopping orgasms. It's more about taking the time to get to know and explore yourself and your body, and bringing your self-awareness to your sexuality.
Last night I read over and listened back to my conversations with Karleu and Bliss, put away my computer and had a hands-pants-party. And I didn't get bored! Also I didn't make myself giggle for 10 straight minutes either, but I didn't get bored and it was fun.
It kind of pisses me off that my boyfriend is still better at making me cum than I am, but all this new information has changed the way I approach masturbation. I now see my fingers, hand, mirrors, and my pussy in a whole new light. Orgasm isn't the goal, it's just part of the journey, like Waratah explained.
I'm wanking into a bright, wet future.
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