On Loving Self-Love


On Loving Self-Love

Masturbation and How No One Wants to Talk About It



Jacking off. Alone time. Wanking. Touching yourself.

Whatever you call it, it’s technically known as masturbating. It’s healthy, a lot of people do it. It’s normal, yet no one wants to talk about it. This is really weird given how often people talk about sex in everyday life and how boldly. It’s the subject of jokes, it’s exalted in media, it’s threaded into advertisements for everything from food to house furniture. Centuries-old literature that has been lauded throughout the ages harps on about sex for pages upon pages.

There’s always some shame associated with it, as sex isn’t something generally considered to be an acceptable topic during polite conversation. Still, sex is discussed, and people don’t shy away from it as much as they do from masturbation. If sex is taboo, masturbating is utterly forbidden, unless the goal is to shame someone for it via joking about it or outright bullying.

If I’m being frank, I’m embarrassed even writing this. Growing up, I remember having literal nightmares about one of my parents or siblings finding out that I masturbated. It’s always been this thing that I did for myself when I was stressed, or bored, or just happy and alone. I don’t even think I could remember the first time I did it if I were pressed to; it’s just something that became normal for me. I know on a surface level that I shouldn’t be ashamed of it, especially in 2019 when more and more people are claiming sexuality and all that comes with it as something that is inherently natural and right. That didn’t stop the disgust I used to feel about it when I was younger, or the fear I feel now, writing this and knowing that I’m publishing it somewhere where my family might read it.

In high school, I remember my group of friends being really forthright when it came to talking about sex and sexuality. We were open to discussing masturbation pretty regularly, which is odd for a bunch of high school students, even if we did self-identify as the “weird ones” a lot of the time. We discussed these things with each other because we didn’t feel like we could talk about them at home, for whatever reason. For me, it was because the thought of talking about masturbation with my mom made me shudder, and still does to this day even though we discuss sex pretty regularly.

I’ve tried to sit down and think about why it makes me so ashamed and fearful many times, and especially now that I’m no longer living at home. Sometimes I attribute it to the fact that it’s something I do alone. Other times I think it’s because I’m scared of what other people will say, that they’ll think I’m disgusting, which is one of my biggest fears when it comes to leaving the house. I used to be convinced it was sinful and that God would strike me down where I stood if I ever told anyone about it. I’m not sure today if my hesitance to talk about it with friends is because of these reservations, or just one of them, or a combination of mine and those of whoever I’m talking to. I just know that I haven’t discussed masturbating out loud with anyone except my boyfriend since high school, and that’s ridiculous to me.

If we can have school-sponsored forums on safe sex and how to safely engage in kinky sex, why not masturbation? Sex Week and Sex Weekend are excellent for teaching students not to be afraid of sexual relationships with other people, but there hasn’t been an event about masturbating since 2017.

For me, masturbating, while it is something that I’m terrified to talk about, is also an action that has inspired a lot of love for my own body over the years. It’s taught me to know what I like when I’m having sex with other people. It’s also helped me explore the different avenues of my sexuality by letting me figure out what turns me on without the pressure of another person being in the room with me. I like sex, but I love masturbating — and that is something that I wish wasn’t so hard to write down.

There’s no safer sex than sex with yourself, and I really encourage whoever is reading this to give it a shot if you haven’t already. You might not like it, or you may really, really love it. Either way, you’ll learn something about your body and what it wants from sex, and that information is invaluable when it comes to forming a healthy relationship, whether it’s with yourself or with someone else.

Just make sure when you do try it, that you have plenty of time to get comfortable and be alone. There’s truly nothing more terrifying than the thought of a roommate waltzing into your thin-walled room while you’re scrambling to hide your slightly-too-loud vibrator from sight.


Alaya Ayala (alaya_ayala@college.harvard.edu) is a big fan of self love.