If you've been spending any time on the site lately, you probably couldn't have failed to notice that we're celebrating Masturbation Month throughout the month of May. This is a cause we really believe in and we're doing our best to sing the praises of solo love. We're shouting it from the (virtual) rooftops! What we've discovered in the process is that while there is still a lot of shame and stigma - or just plain silence - around solo sex, there are also a lot of people who are hungry for information - and encouragement!
Well, friends, we found a great booster for you. Author Jenny Block can speak as enthusiastically and as eloquently about masturbation as anyone we've ever met. In fact, she's so passionate about it that she recently released one of the few books out there dedicated to the subject, "The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex." We caught up with Jenny about her book and got her perspective on solo sex, stigma and how surprising yourself can help you break out of a sexual rut.
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Kinkly: There's still some taboo around masturbation. How do you address that when you're talking to or writing for people on this topic?
Jenny Block: I find that so odd. It’s so out in the open for men. I think it goes with the whole thing about women’s sexuality being taboo all around. The first thing I tell people is to try to let go of where that shame is coming from. That could be religion or culture or they’ve just never talked about [masturbation]. One of the best ways to do that is to surround yourself with sex-positive people. That can even be virtually. We are sexual creatures. You almost have to properly un-brainwash yourself when you go back and take on the deluge of things going on out there. And if you really can’t get over the sexual part of masturbating at first, just think of it as self-care. It’s great for headaches, it’s great for yourself. It’s just a healthy practice. Start out thinking about it as something that you do for you health, and not necessarily as something sexual. Hopefully, at some point, you’ll be able to integrate the two.
Kinkly: Masturbation tends to be something people just kind of figure out on their own. What does learning more about pleasuring ourselves do for us?
Jenny Block: I grew up in the '70s and no one mentioned it. I didn’t get any information, negative or positive. I didn’t even know what I was doing, and I wasted a lot of time worrying about whether it was OK. Information is power. The more you can know about something, the better. You can also do it better if you know how to do it.
Around the time when I was about to write this book, I asked a friend for a tampon.
"I have a pad," she said. "I don't use tampons ... I don't want to have to touch .. down there."
And I was like, "but how do you masturbate?!" Right then the dryer buzzed and I don't think I've ever seen anyone so happy to run to check on her clothes. And this wasn't a kid - this was a grown-up adult.
So, I decided to hold a sex toy party. It was a huge success! Those women were just waiting for someone to tell them it was OK. It's silly, really. We’re wasting too much time and energy worrying about this thing, which is a lovely, simple, healthy thing. It’s like this little secret that shouldn’t be a secret. (Learn more in Why Masturbation Is Essential to Unlocking the Secrets of Yourself.)
Kinkly: You write a lot about female pleasure. What are some of the things that tend to hold women back from exploring what makes them feel good?
Jenny Block: I had this lovely, liberal, kind family, but it still seemed like I wasn’t supposed to be too anything. Don’t take more than one cookie, don’t take the biggest one, don’t be too noisy. We’re supposed to be good girls and there’s all this junk around that. We’ve all been so shamed. To some extent, women have been socialized not to enjoy sex. My mission became to be available to help women learn the truth.
Kinkly: You say in your book that people can get into a "comfortable rut" with masturbation. What does that mean and why is it a problem?
Jenny Block: If you masturbate and it works for you, it’s totally fine, but when you try something new you create a new pathway. When you explore masturbation, you open up new pathways. Nothing is wrong, but I challenge women to try something different. And when they do, they always come back and say it’s newer and better and exciting and they want to do it more, and that makes them feel better. Even with sex, you end up in this comfortable pattern. It’s nice to surprise yourself. There’s a lot to gain by taking a risk and seeing what else might interest you. (Learn more in 10 Things You Don't Know About Self-Love.)
Kinkly: What is something you would like everyone to know about masturbation?
Jenny Block: That it’s your right and your responsibility. You have a right to your body and pleasure, but you also have a responsibility to take care of yourself. I cannot think of one reason not to do it. I can think of a million why you should. Whenever someone comes to me with a problem, I ask them: How much are you masturbating? When I masturbate, I feel like I can take over the world. I feel like the sexiest, most powerful person in the world. Things can hold you back, but all you can do is start taking the right steps.
Kinkly: What are you top tips for solo sex?
Jenny Block: My No.1 tip is to make sure you have the time and space to do it. Pick a time and place where you will have privacy. The second is to go for it. Nothing is weird, just go with whatever fantasies and movements and things you want to do. And don’t be afraid to explore things you haven’t tried. If you always lie on your stomach, lie on your back. If you haven’t tried toys, go for it. Be as exploratory as you feel.
Want to read more of Jenny's solo sex tips? Check out her book here.