In the warmth of the hot bath water, I submerged my head. I found the noises of the outside world were drowned out and all that was left to hear was my body’s slight movements in the tub. My intentions for this particular evening bath were not as childish as my usual baths full of bubbles, plastic ships and rubber duckies. A close friend of mine, Nina, had shared with a few of us girls that she had done something recently that she was a bit confused and a lot excited about. She had slipped a finger inside of herself, “just to feel what it would be like in there.” Well, Nina sparked my attention that Friday in the lunch line. And I have yet to mention that Fridays were macaroni and cheese day at my elementary school, and thus it was very hard to interest me in anything not covered in cheese. Thanks to Nina, I also wanted to be in touch with my entire body. So, in the bath my fingers bravely explored the new territory with caution, not knowing if I should be weary of what went in or came out. What I felt was wonderful, yet, hard to explain; but I am sure all of you could make educated guesses as to what it was like.
While my fingers were slipping in and out with a slow pace, my mind was drifting from the experience and I began to feel red in the cheeks. I started to wonder if I had made any noises while I was submerged and feeling audibly isolated. If my mom found out, I couldn’t face her. Or worse, my dad finding out — the horror! Touching in inappropriate places was definitely not allowed. I felt that with each centimeter my fingers gained, I was full of more and more guilt. But I was young and just wanted to know my body , I wasn’t interested in giving myself an earth-shattering orgasm (I hardly knew what that was at the time, let alone how to make it happen in any reasonable amount of time). The exploration of any part of the body should be natural, like babies first grabbing their toes. But let’s be honest, we are told masturbation is an unnatural act.
Why do I brag to my roommates about the cute boys I bring home but tuck my little vibrator away in my underwear drawer to grow lonely among the panties who see way more action than its generously pulsating body? I mean, good for me, right? But that’s not the point. The point is that I am still embarrassed to talk openly with other girls about masturbation and I’m the damn sex columnist! If I have this inhibition then I can bet many others do, too.
So, from where does our embarrassment about masturbation stem? Religion is a source. Major religions from Catholicism to Judaism reject certain kinds of masturbation. For some, the issue is “spilling of the seed” during male masturbation. This argument is the same argument for the rejection of using protection, like condoms. For other religions, like Buddhism, the problem is that masturbating demonstrates a lack of self-control, emphasising the importance of the build up. A friend once shared quite a nice analogy to that effect: “Masturbating is like winning the battle but losing the war.” I do see the value of racking up the all your chips for one big game, the value of waiting it out. But masturbation can play a pivotal role in this waiting game. Who said masturbation had to end in an eruption? Masturbation can be an act of self-control unto itself; and there is no greater act of self-control than forcing your hands to cease movement at that pivotal moment.
Yet masturbation is often still taboo, as it has been for so many decades in this country. Among guys it has become permissible to talk freely about “whacking the weasel.” There is a somewhat obvious dichotomy between the way male and female masturbation are seen by our generation. I do not believe that guys think it is wrong for ladies they know to masturbate. I believe guys looovvee imagining, hearing, seeing or being a part of such intimate acts. However, I do think it is true that guys see female masturbation as novelty and their own as commonplace. The reason for this is partially because the girls who do masturbate regularly are frightened to be vocal about their experiences, even when it is appropriate to talk about such acts, like alone with a lover during foreplay.
I hope that no amount of societal blame or personal embarrassment could stop you from putting your hand down your pants and feeling all there is to feel. I see value in knowing your own body for what it is. You might know what feels good when someone else is getting down and dirty on you, but you still are unfamiliar with the real ins and outs of your own self. There is such a thing as self intimacy and it can really enhance your intimacy with others.
Mona G. is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at email@example.com. Erotic Epiphanies appears alternate Thursdays this semester.