Beyond just being fun (and a great way to procrastinate), masturbation ups your chances of cumming during partner sex, improves your body image, and so much more. Womanizer is a sex toy brand that understands that jerking off is a form of #SelfCare.
This article was created in partnership with Womanizer.
My love affair with jerking off started early, around age 10. But our relationship was pretty functional. I’d get myself off in about four minutes, and then move on with my life. Mission happily accomplished.
But then in high school, when I started slutting around, I quickly realized that IRL sex was very different than my solo situation. Sex lasted a couple minutes (if we were lucky), and if it involved “foreplay” at all, it consisted of a couple rogue fingers being stuffed unceremoniously into my pussy. A running motif was that guys would aggressively rub the top of my pubes, distinctly north of my clit. (And I’m not man-bashing here—I was def an amateur handjobist back then.) And while I’m embarrassed to admit it, during sex I would fake orgasms to make the guy feel good, or to take the pressure off myself, and then I’d go home and finish and the job.
But around 20, something changed. Maybe it was the realization that faking orgasms wasn’t helping anyone, maybe it was #internetfeminism and reading about the “orgasm gap,” maybe it was Maybelline. But suddenly, I felt the strong desire to come with someone else in the room for once in my fucking life.
Calling all vibrators. Karley holding the Womanizer vibrator.
It was this realization that led me to read Betty Dodson’s 1973 book about masturbation, Sex For One. Betty is one of the pioneers of the pro-sex feminist movement, and a living legend. She literally self-defines as a “professional masturbator,” and famously said, “My fantasies are so dirty, they’d put me away.” Respect. She was the first public feminist to say: Women, we have wake the up and take our orgasms into our own hands (cheesy pun, but true!).
For more than five decades Betty has been hosting masturbation workshops where she teaches such important life skills as the “Rock ‘n Roll Orgasm.” This entails lying on your back with your legs bent and rocking your pelvis back and forth while doing Kegals, all while using a vibrator on your clit and penetrating yourself. (It sounds complicated, but she insists the benefits are worth the effort.) To this day, Betty strongly advocates that the secret to a great sex life is maintaining a loving sexual relationship with yourself.
It’s widely accepted that the earlier you masturbate, and the sooner you orgasm solo, the sooner you’ll be able to orgasm with a partner. Taking Betty’s advice—slowing down, spending more time on solo sex, and learning to cum in different positions— was integral in helping me to learn how to cum during sex—not necessarily during actual penetration (at least at first) but in terms of being able to show and tell my partner what felt good for me, and feeling confident to masturbate with a partner there, which is a great first step. Basically, getting romantic with jerking-off did a 180 on my sex life.
But beyond just being fun and making partnered sex better, masturbation is a form of self care.
These days the idea of self care—originally a demand by marginalized groups for the space and time necessary go reclaiming their subjectivity—has been perverted into a clickbaity capitalist mantra. Increasingly, we think of self care as treating ourselves to a day of reality TV, or splurging on an $11 almond milk CBD matcha latte. But in my opinion, true self care is taking the time to learn about your body, and your own sexual pleasure.
Womanizer is a sex toy company that understands the self-care element of masturbation. Their basic ethos is that everyone has a right to orgasm, whether or not you’re sexually active with other people. Everyone should be able to feel comfortable in their own skin, and free to identify their own sexual needs. And also, that masturbation—whether you’re using a clitoral stimulator, your hand, or your electronic toothbrush—is a form of self-determination and sexual freedom.
And BTW, jerking-off has a lot of psychological and physical health benefits. It’s sort of like working out, only infinitely less torturous. Planned Parenthood’s website lists a plethora of benefits of masturbation, including: increasing self-esteem; improving body image; improving sleep (I always masturbate when I can’t sleep duh); making your vaj tighter (yolo); reducing stress (I’ve legit substituted Xanax with my Womanizer). Also, studies show that masturbating can flush old bacteria from the cervix, decreasing the chances of getting a UTI (an actual lifesaver.) And—perhaps most excitingly—enhancing sex with partners both physically and emotionally.
Dr. Chris Donahue, a sex therapist and doctor of clinical sexology and human sexuality, once told me: “We live in such a productivity-obsessed culture, where everything is framed in terms of ‘How much money is it making you?’—it’s so capitalistic, and masturbation is the antithesis of that. It’s really powerful and revolutionary to say ‘forget capitalism and consumerism and productivity, I’m gonna take time to myself and masturbate, or use a sex toy.’ That’s so feminist.” So like, I guess masturbation is a form of activism? Who knew?!
Whether you have a partner (or partners), solo sex is something that’s entirely yours, where you don’t have to factor in someone else’s boundaries, feelings or needs. It’s a place to explore your perviest, weirdest, most un-PC fantasies—to be and to fuck whoever you want. And let’s be real, life would suck without that.
Images by Monika Mogi