Two weeks ago, we had our second workshop for Taboo Talk series! This workshop was dedicated to the safest sex of them all: Masturbation, which is why our Sex-R theme was Finding Nemo.
Just so we're all on the same page, masturbation is the act of touching your own genitals for pleasure. We've talked and blogged in the past about how masturbation and self-exploration are common and healthy behaviors that help us learn about ourselves as sexual beings; yet we often find it awkward to talk about it…and when we do, it’s either in a joking way or in a shameful way. It’s hardly ever spoken about positively. We at SMART Youth want to change that!
Our guest facilitator, Melisa, led a discussion on how there are differences in the way masturbation is perceived based on many factors. Our participants told examples of how, depending on your gender and age, masturbation can be seen differently. When men are younger, masturbation is seen as something that every man does and cannot control. When women are younger, masturbation is seen as something that women just don’t do. As we get older, the societal perception changes and masturbation is seen as something that is done only when someone doesn’t have a sexual partner. We know that these are stereotypes and are NOT true! Not every man masturbates, and a lot of women do masturbate.
We also know that masturbation does not depend on having a sexual partner. Both people who are single or in relationships masturbate, and they’re equally okay! Plus, masturbation and mutual masturbation (when partners pleasure themselves in front of their partner or touch/rub their partners’ genitals for pleasure) can be part of foreplay and sex. If there is no transfer of fluids (or you’re following other precautions like using a barrier or washing hands), there is a suuuuper low risk for pregnancy or STI’s…making it the safest sex of them all!
You don’t only have to use your hands either. One can masturbate or do mutual masturbation with the aid of sex toys as well! We have an entire blog post and presentation dedicated to what sex toys are and how to use them.
One way we can reduce shame and start becoming more comfortable with talking about masturbation is to use better words to describe the act. Many of the phrases we use to describe masturbation include jerking off, diddle the skittle, or choke the monkey, which are either funny or sometimes violent. If instead we used more neutral and even more positive phrases like pleasuring yourself, fingering, or as one youth offered, happy time, it may make talking about masturbation a more positive and open topic!
Thank you to Melisa for taking the time out to facilitate such a fun and important meeting!