The internet is for porn… and fanfic, and erotic art!

Let’s talk about porn.

Actually, let’s talk about masturbation, which may or may not involve porn. There isn’t that much of a discussion when it comes to male masturbation. Guys jerk off. We somehow know this instinctively. Some people might disapprove, some might refuse to talk about, but for the most part, outside of strictly religious environments, it’s sort of accepted that guys masturbate. All I would say is please, not in a public place, or somewhere that I might end up naked in, like, every morning. (Jerking off in the shower in a student hall of residence? Not cool. I’m pretty open-minded, but seriously, not cool.)

Girls on the other hand? Girls don’t masturbate! That would be all icky and dirty! And everyone knows that women only have sex so men will want to be in a relationship with them, so what’s the point of them doing it themselves? That would mean they actually enjoyed sex, and we all know that’s just laughable, right?

Yeah. Right. I’m exaggerating, but the sentiment is there. Maybe because women don’t physically have to masturbate in the same way that men often do? Or, more likely, because as a society we have a big problem with women enjoying sex and embracing their sexuality. If this were a Classics essay, I would talk about how this idea can be seen in the citizenship laws of classical Athens, where the men were so terrified that women might enjoy sex that they basically kept them under house arrest. But instead it’s a blog post, so I’ll set aside the history and, as I always do when I’m not sure where to start, I’ll go back to my own experiences.

I did not know what masturbation was until I was fourteen, and even then I only found out because I heard some others girls talking about it and worked out what they were referring to. I mean, I’d been doing it for years. I just didn’t know what it was. I’m still not entirely sure how I discovered it, but it just happened, and I thought it was totally normal. I didn’t even equate it with sex, because at that point, no one had ever told me that sex was meant to feel good.

Let me say that again. At the age of fourteen, I had no idea that having sex was meant to be a pleasurable experience. I mean, I’d had sex ed, so I knew about gonorrhea and chlamydia and how to put on a condom, and that I should not feel pressured and should only do it with someone I really loved and trusted at the age of thirty-five. But I didn’t know it was meant to feel good. So naturally I didn’t associate it with this fun, pleasurable, harmless thing I’d been doing on my own.

When I found out, I suddenly started thinking that it was wrong or dirty. I kept doing it, of course (I was ignorant, but not stupid), but I understood that this was not something to be talked about, to be mentioned, even to think about. And then I discovered fanfic, and everything suddenly made sense. People were writing erotic Harry Potter fanfic, and often (especially given that I started off only reading femmeslash) that involved masturbation. Girls! Touching themselves! Touching each other! Enjoying it! In the fantastical, magical world of Harry Potter, somehow this was okay.

Electra once said to me: ‘Everything I ever needed to know about sex, I learnt from Harry Potter fanfiction’. She was sixteen at the time, and I’m fairly certain she’s learnt a few more things since, but I understand where she was coming from. Fanfic is amazing. It’s like porn, only you can visualise the characters the way you want to. I mean, how awesome is that?

So back to masturbation. I can’t orgasm from penetration alone. This is occasionally a little inconvenient, because I really, really like penetration, and it would be nice to orgasm from it once in a while. However, according to Scarleteen only about 30% of women can come from penetration alone, so I don’t feel too bad. The problem with fanfic, of course, is that it’s fiction, and therefore about 100% of the female characters seem to be able to orgasm from a couple of hard thrusts. If it’s femmeslash, then all it takes  is the slightest pressure on their clit or stroking between their legs, and they’re all having mind-blowing orgasms. Hot, right? And fun to read. But also pretty unrealistic. If that’s the only sex-positive media you have, the only place where people are talking openly about female pleasure and not being all ‘wait until you’re ready and get married first’ about it, then suddenly there’s this horrible dichotomy. Either I can be awesome and sexy and come sooner than you can say ‘clitoris’, or I can be a prudish virgin who doesn’t want to do it til she’s married, and even then, only for babies.

This is what feminists call the virgin/whore dichotomy. But you don’t have to give it a fancy name to understand what it is. There isn’t really a middle ground for women who like some sex, sometimes, with some people, which is odd because that is where the vast majority of women fit in. And it means that you either end up not doing stuff that you want to because you’re worried about what people will think, or doing stuff that you don’t want to because you don’t know how to express anything otherwise. Like me, having what I thought was ‘great sex’ with girls, where I didn’t come and didn’t enjoy it and ached afterwards, because I didn’t know how to express what I wanted. It wasn’t their fault – I kept telling them how awesome it was. Because I didn’t know any better. Because I still didn’t really get that sex was meant to be enjoyable. Because the women in the fanfic always came, so why couldn’t I?

The first time I came during actual sex wasn’t from penetration, or getting head. It was me, touching myself while my partner held me, trying to eliminate the stigma and the slut-shaming messages I’d somehow managed to internalise. ‘You want me to touch myself? Really? You don’t think it’s weird or gross? You don’t mind? You want to hold me and kiss me while I do it? You’re sure?’ And then I shut up and did it, and next thing I knew I was seeing stars and sex was suddenly so much better.

Now, I was lucky. I discovered masturbation before I discovered the stigma about it, so I already knew what I was doing and liked it too much to stop. Some of my friends weren’t so fortunate, and spent years trying to work out how to orgasm. And some others are afraid to try. ‘I don’t want my first time to be with my own hand’, a girl at school once told me. And that’s a valid decision – of course I’m not to going to tell anyone they have to masturbate. It’s a personal choice. But I do feel like that statement just gets it wrong on so many levels. Masturbation isn’t an alternative to sex. Masturbation is the means by which sex can get really good. The first time anyone fingered me, it hurt. It would have hurt so much more if I hadn’t done it myself before. I knew my own body pretty damn well, and it still took me years to work out how to get pleasure with a partner. Years. Think how much longer it would have taken if I hadn’t had a clue. And that’s why I think it’s so sad that female masturbation gets sidelined. It isn’t dirty, or wrong, and unlike sex there’s no chance of getting pregnant or transmitting any nasty infections. It’s fun and harmless, and it helps you work out what you want so that when you’re with a partner, you have this massive headstart, and when you’re not with a partner, you can get that kinda release on your own.

I have written extensively elsewhere about my thoughts on the Dirty Girl Ministries (no, it’s not a lesbian club, I was disappointed too), and that kind of slut-shaming, negative attitude which makes women feel bad about something that is meant to feel good. All I want to do now is get the message out, as many times as I possibly can, that masturbation is good! Find out what you enjoy! Keep doing what you enjoy! And if you don’t feel comfortable with it or don’t want to, that’s okay too, but we should at least be able to talk about this. I want to be able to exchange tips on vibrators and swap favourite fanfics or porn films, and not feel like the world is judging me because yes, I have a sex drive, and I am not afraid to use it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with an erotic novel about a masochistic courtesan. I’ll leave you to have fun on your own.

One thought on “The internet is for porn… and fanfic, and erotic art!

  1. I recently switched it up and went back to the method of masturbation I used from about age 5 to 11 or so…

    This time, with less guilt over it, a bit of a mature perspective, but at the same time, I feel like I’m putting myself back together some, (guilt, sex-negative, plus worse, much worse, but I don’t want to get into that.)

    Besides, it happens to be fucking *amazing* orgasm. More or less continuous orgasmic waves until I’m literally too exhausted to move lol.

    Which is good ‘cuz other than that I’m having trouble finding partners (or maybe I just don’t have a motivator and I notice a lot of your posts don’t really have that many comments and I’m about to delete this one but it’s not really fair ‘cuz your posts are sometimes personal and awesome so I probably ought to just leave this one 😉 )

    Sorry the parenthetical kind of veered off course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s