[Masturbation Monday] Wait, Masturbation Month!? Why?

Did you know that May is officially Masturbation Month? Well, you do now!

You might be thinking, “a whole month dedicated to masturbation. Why!?” Well, because wanking is an awesome thing to celebrate! But there’s more to it than that. So what else is this Masturbation Month thing all about?

Right now, masturbation is the safest sex we can have

I mean, technically that’s always true. But it’s especially true in the time of COVID-19. Right now the only sex we should be having is with ourselves, with the partners we live with, or conducted via virtual means. (Not Zoom though, I beg you.)

Aaaaaand my blog goes back to being a Corona-free zone… now.

The fact remains, though: masturbation is the safest form of sex, both physically and emotionally.

Your only lifelong sexual partner is you

The one person you can always rely on to be there? YOU! So just as it makes sense to cultivate strong emotional self-reliance, the same is true sexually. Learning your own body, what makes you tick and what gets you off, is an incredible gift to yourself. It means you’ll always be able to have a banging sex life, regardless of access to (or interest in) partnered sex.

Masturbation is still ridiculously stigmatised

This is still especially true for women and those assigned female at birth. The myths surrounding masturbation are often kinda bonkers!

Anti-masturbation sentiment also runs rampant in certain religious communities, with religious thinkers prescribing everything from showering with the door open to eating a snack every time you get horny to folding fucking laundry to curb the desire to masturbate.

But there’s also a secular community dedicated to the supposed evils of masturbation. The NoFap community is a bizarre corner of the internet where people who think they’re “addicted” to porn or masturbation go to discuss their attempts to give up masturbation.

…but it doesn’t need to be!

Here are the facts: masturbation, in the overwhelming majority of cases, is healthy, natural, and good for you. It has positive physical and mental health benefits. It is ONLY a problem if it is negatively interefering with other areas of your life.

Masturbation addiction (and sex addiction) are not real things.

Masturbation does not harm relationships, it is not cheating, and it doesn’t “ruin” you for partnered sex. In fact, it can make your partnered sex better!

We are all entitled to pleasure

We are all entitled to experience pleasure without shame, guilt or reproval. Masturbation is about pleasure, and Masturbation Month celebrates that. Our bodies are capable of giving us incredible pleasure. We are allowed to revel in it, to enjoy it, to celebrate it.

Happy Masturbation Month!

I’m partnering with Lovehoney to bring you Masturbation Month content all May long! I have some fabulous products lined up to share with you all over the coming weeks. Check out their curated selection of popular toys if you’re looking for some inspiration to get you started.

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This post also contains affiliate links, and shopping through them is a great way to support my work and the ongoing maintainance of this space. This post is part of the Masturbation Monday meme, owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone’s getting off to this week!

Firework

Something a bit different today. I actually wrote a draft of this post a long time ago and am only just ready to share it. This is the true story of the girl I call my firework.

You are the reason that I breathe…” I hear our song, quietly playing on the office radio all these years later, and I am transported back. I don’t remember her birthday or what her favourite colour was any more, but I do remember the important things. The way she grabbed me for that first kiss, the one where I thought my heart would stop. How she was so tiny I had to bend to kiss her, yet I still felt so protected when I was in her arms.

For months, she was only words on a screen. We typed, typed, typed our words, back and forth, night after long night, but it was never quite enough. It was a long time before I even saw her face. I didn’t need to. Just her name, just those three little ellipses to indicate her typing, was enough to send my foolish teenage heart into a tailspin. She was the first person I ever knew who I could be completely myself with. With her words, she reached through the screen across the miles separating us and wrested my truth from my fingertips.

I was only eighteen; she, twenty-five. The first moment I saw her, 3D flesh-and-blood, real and alive and right in front of me on the platform at New Street Station, I knew I was lost. I knew that, whether she was with me for a decade or walked out of my life tomorrow, she would always linger like a brand upon my skin.

She taught me how to make love to a woman. But much more than that, she taught me how to say yes when something I desperately want, but am afraid to want, is offered to me. She taught me how to love unreservedly, how to give of my whole self and then more. With her, I dared to hold hands in public and kiss in front of people who might not approve.

“To hell with what they think,” she told me. Her bravery made me brave, too. We only got abuse shouted at us in the street once.

Of course she broke my heart. We broke each others’. I fell too hard, too quickly. She withdrew. We were both too young, too afraid. We didn’t know how to communicate. There was the built-in inequality, right from the beginning, of age and experience – of the fact that she was my first love, and I was not hers. We didn’t know what we wanted. With her, I entered a second rush of adolescence, when I was barely through my first.

It was only later, when I’d finished crying into bottles of strong alcohol and convincing myself she was the only great love that would ever come along in my life, that I realised a fundamental truth: I will never love anyone else in the same way I loved her. And that is okay. That is even good.

What we had, though beautiful for its brief time, was neither comfortable nor sustainable over the long term. She was not the gentle, comforting fire of long-term companionship. She was a firework; beautiful and dazzling and then… gone. And fireworks are precious, but there is a reason we don’t set them off in our homes to keep ourselves warm.

We will never be friends. Of that I am absolutely certain. On the one occasion in the last ten years that I’ve seen her face – Facebook is a curse – I found the longing still there. Dulled, yes – dulled by time, by the memory of how things ended, by the more real and present and immediate affection for the person I love now – but still there. Indelible. She is indelible, a handprint in the book of my life.

It took me a long time to get over that heartbreak, and longer still to get over the anger that I manufactured to protect myself from the pain. But now? Now I am thankful for those brief, fleeting, perfectly imperfect three months.

She, my firework, taught me to be proud to be a queer woman, and for that I will always love her.

If you enjoy my stories of loves and fucks past, please consider buying me a coffee to help keep the blog going!

Can Masturbation Ever Be Cheating?

Short answer: no.

I’ve heard/read this question dozens if not hundreds of times in the years I’ve been writing about sex. People are desperate to know, it seems, if masturbating while you’re in a relationship can ever be classed as cheating.

In order for me to rip this notion apart, let’s examine what “cheating” is. To many people, it is probably broadly defined as “doing sexual or romantic things with someone who isn’t your partner.” That’s sort of fine, but I don’t think it goes far enough. Lots of us do sexual and/or romantic things with people other than our primary partners all the time, but with their knowledge and consent. That’s kinda what consensual non-monogamy is! And yet it is still possible to cheat in an open or polyamorous relationship.

I propose the working definition that cheating is willfully and knowingly breaking the rules of your relationship in order to engage sexually or romatically with another person without your partner’s knowledge and/or consent.

“Yourself” does not count as “another person.”

You cannot cheat on your partner with yourself. You simply cannot. Doing anything with your own body, and only your own body, is a universe away from doing something with another person behind your partner’s back.

In my view, saying that touching your own body sexually is cheating makes about as much sense as saying that going to a coffee shop or restaurant by yourself counts as cheating.

You cannot cheat on your partner with yourself!

But it’s even more fundamental than that. Your body is yours.

You have an absolute, inalienable and irrefutable right to your own body. It belongs to you, and nobody else. Always.

Look, even if you think you’re the most absolute subby sub who ever subbed and you’ve given complete control over your body to your Dominant… you can still take that back at any time. You get to say “nope” (or “red” or “canary” or whatever means no according to your agreements) and have everything stop. Period, the end, done.

You have the right to do what you like with your own body. And that includes to engage in a sexual relationship with yourself.

You may have mutual agreements with your partner around sexual activity with others outside your relationship, and you should absolutely stick to those (or if you can’t, renegotiate the rules or end the relationship.) But your partner does not own your sexuality. They do not have a right to have any and all of your sexual activity and feelings directed at them exclusively forever more. (Nor is this realistic. Show me a sexual person in a relationship who has never had even a fleeting sexual thought about someone other than their partner, and I’ll show you a liar.)

What if my partner is masturbating all the time instead of having sex with me?

If you’re dissatisfied with the sexual relationship you have with your partner, that’s a conversation the two of you need to have.

“We’re not having as much sex as I would like, can we talk about that?” is a really valid thing to raise. Being able to talk frankly about sex is important to a strong and healthy relationship. And in a good relationship, your partner will be willing to have the conversation and work to solve the problem so that you’re both happy and satisfied. But “forbid masturbation” isn’t the answer. This is just likely to lead to resentment, hurt feelings, and sneaking around and dishonesty.

So no. Masturbation is not and cannot ever be cheating.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of shit. Also, trying to control what you do with your own body is a red flag for abuse.

Wank away guilt-free. And walk away from anyone who thinks that being in a relationship means they can take away your bodily autonomy.

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Masturbation Monday is a meme by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone is getting off to this week! If you love my work, you can also buy me a coffee to show your appreciation!

Fellow Cis People: We Really Need to Talk About Transphobia in the Sex Positive Community

“And the love we have for each other
Will defeat the hate we suffer.
You’re my sisters, brothers, and all that’s in between”

– Grace Petrie, Pride

This isn’t going to be a fun post to write and it probably won’t be a fun one to read either. But it needs to be written. Fellow cis people, we really, really need to talk about transphobia in sex positive spaces. (I’m talking particularly about sex blogging here, but this applies to kink, swing and many queer spaces, as well.)

First, what this isn’t

This isn’t a personal attack on anyone. If you read it in that way, I suggest you take a breath and then reexamine your own behaviour and reaction. This is about much more than one person. This is about a huge, systemic and entrenched issue.

This isn’t being written for kudos, attention, or ally cookies. I’m not speaking up because I want to be seen as some awesome ally. I’m speaking up because it’s the right goddamn thing to do.

This isn’t a lecture. This is about me too, because none of us are perfect at this. We all fuck up from time to time, and we could all be doing better. This is a call-in, a plea to do your part.

This is not a new issue

Transphobia is not a new issue, and neither is transphobia in sex-positive spaces. Trans and non-binary people have been speaking out about this stuff for years. So why now? I am speaking out now because issues have come to light in recent weeks which have really thrown up the horrible, ugly undercurrent of transphobia that has been running through the sex positive world.

This is fucking heartbreaking. I love this community and I wanted – naively, perhaps – to believe we were better than this.

Fundamentally, my voice isn’t the one you should be listening to here. I’m writing this in order to use the platform – and substantial privilege – I have to hopefully do some good. But what I really want you to do is go and read the pieces by the trans and NB folks who have directly experienced harm.

Things to read before we go any further

Quenby (a fantastic writer who guest blogged for me recently) wrote this important piece about the pattern of transphobia in sex blogging. In it, they point out the exhausting cycle wherein someone does something transphobic, gets politely corrected or called out, and then proceeds to either double down or make it all about them and their hurt feelings.

“I don’t think that sex bloggers hate trans people, I don’t think you wish we didn’t exist. But I don’t think you care. I don’t think you care enough to put in the basic effort to not repeatedly hurt us. I don’t think you care enough to stand in solidarity with us when it’s inconvenient (and it is never going to be easy). And in the current climate of rising transphobia, that means you are complicit in our dehumanisation.” – Quenby

This week, a hideous, violent and transphobic blog post emerged, written by the husband of a popular blogger. A number of bloggers wrote comments essentially co-signing or endoring the vitriolic transphobia. I’m not going to link to the original post, because bigotry doesn’t deserve the clicks. But Mx Nillin wrote an important call-out thread and I encourage you to read it.

Nillin also wrote a post talking about this hateful piece, the response to it and, in connection, the problem of discrimination within the Smut Marathon competition. (One of the recent discussions around transphobia in sex blogging started because of a piece of criticism which described a trans character as “confusing.”)

Fact is that there is simply nothing fair or ethical about a competition organized, and at least partially judged, by ignorance. There just isn’t. It throws the whole thing into disrepute and makes for results tainted with toxicity, prejudice, and discrimination.” – Mx Nillin

Finally, my dear friend Quinn published this brilliant piece just today on not having to be nice to people who misgender hir. One of the things that is constantly thrown at trans people who call out transphobia is that they should just be nicer. Well, if you harm someone – and misgendering, deadnaming and making thoughtless transphobic comments is harm, even if you didn’t intend it that way – they’re not obligated to be nice about it. And your support of trans people should not hinge on whether or not any one particular trans person is “nice enough” to you.

“I don’t have to be nice to people who misgender me. But if you genuinely want to apologise and ask ‘how can I do better?‘ I would love to help educate you on how to be more inclusive of trans folks. I’m still learning how to be inclusive, and I’m still fucking up. I know I’m going to make mistakes and have to apologise for being a dick, and I’m hoping when I do fuck up other people will help educate me.” – Quinn Rhodes

We need to do better.

This is not good enough, guys. The world is fucking hard enough for trans and NB people as it is right now. Sex positive spaces ought to be better than this, and yet we’re not. Why is that? Why is this shit still happening?

It’s been heartbreaking to watch things unfold these last few weeks and especially this week, and seeing the vitriol and hate that has come out of a community I used to regard as safe and loving.

As cis people, we have a tonne of privilege here. We’ve probably never feared violence just for going to the bathroom. Most of us have never had to make the choice between our safety when we’re out in public, and presenting in a way that alleviates the pain of dysphoria. We don’t have to fight every goddamn day to be called by the correct name, referred to by the correct pronoun, to just be allowed to exist and live in fucking peace. And it is our responsibility to use our privilege in whatever way we can to make the world safer for our trans siblings.

So what can we do?

Firstly, listen to trans people. The posts I’ve linked above are a great start but there are so many incredible trans writers, thinkers and activists out there. Listen to them. Give the mic to them. Compensate them fairly for their time and effort. Remember it is not their job to educate you, and show appreciation for the time and energy they give to do so. Amplify trans voices – share their posts, retweet their work, hire them to write for your site or speak at your event.

Next, speak out against transphobia. If you hear someone misgender or deadname a trans person, correct them. If you hear transphobic vitriol, do not be a bystander. Say something. Speak up. Make your voice heard. Sitting silently and thinking someone is wrong doesn’t make anything better. So it’s time to get loud, get angry, and let the world know that we will not sit idly by and let transphobia slide.

And when you fuck up (which you will, because we’re all learning and unlearning all the time)? Apologise without centering yourself. Apologise for what you did or said. No “I’m sorry if you were offended” half-ass non-apologies. No “but I didn’t mean it.” Fucking apologise and own your behaviour. Quinn’s post has some great words on how to make a meaningful apology that counts. And recognise that an apology doesn’t erase harm, and that intention does not equal impact.

The best thing you can do, when called out on perpetuating transphobia (or any other form of oppression) is to apologise, thank the person for bringing the issue to your attention, and do better in future. The worst things you can do are dig your heels in, insist they’re wrong to be hurt, centre yourself, or double down on the offensive thing you said.

A callout is a gift

You don’t want to perpetuate harm, right? If you do, get off my blog and, to quote the wonderful Danny M. Lavery (another trans writer you should know,) “profoundly reconsider the orientation of your heart.”

Assuming you do not wish to cause harm, recognise that a call-out – or, as many prefer to think of it, a call-in – is an invitation. It is a gift that enables you to do better, to not cause the same harm in the future. Someone who calls you out – or in – almost certainly isn’t doing it to hurt you. In fact, they’ve probably done so knowing that you’re likely to get defensive, turn on them, or double down on your offensive behaviour – because that’s what people so often do when they’re called out.

They’re giving you the gift of information that enables you to become a better version of yourself. Treasure that.

Silence is complicity

All that is needed for evil to triumph, so the saying goes, is for good people to do nothing. Staying quiet in the face of violence is complicity. Not taking sides, in a situation of injustice, means you have chosen the side of the perpetrator.

We can all do better. We all need to do better. Please allow this situation to be a wake-up call, and let’s fucking do better.

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If you’d like to support trans people right now, please support the Gender Reveal Survival Fund which is supporting trans folks who are in need of urgent financial assistance.

[Guest Blog] When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It) by RT Collins

For today’s guest post, I am delighted to be publishing this essay by the exceptionally talented R.T. Collins. When they approached me with this pitch, I knew I simply had to accept it. Painful sex isn’t something we talk about enough, and I’m always here for opening the conversation.

Please note that this essay is about R.T’s personal experience only, and nothing here should be taken as “advice.” What works for one person won’t work for another. If you’re experiencing pain during sex, please seek the support of a qualified medical professional.

And remember – you can help me commission more awesome guest writers by sending a tip or joining me on Patreon.

Amy x

When Sex is Always Painful (And You Love It)

(Or: How I learned to live with a retroverted uterus and accept pain as a normal (and fun) part of sex.)

Earlier this year Netflix’s excellent series Sex Education featured a storyline about a teenage girl – Lily – discovering and dealing with vaginismus. Vaginismus is a painful condition where a pelvic floor muscles spasm when anything is inserted, making it near impossible to have penetrative sex (even if it’s just a finger).

Lily’s frustrations and sadness struck a familiar chord. I don’t have vaginismus, but I do have a retroverted uterus (also known as a tilted uterus). My vagina itself is unaffected, but my womb is titled backwards, and my cervix is in a different place, causing pain every time anything phallic goes up there.

Like Lily, I found this out the hard way. My first penetrative sexual experience was hugely painful, but I’d been told that was going to be the case, so I assumed it was normal. However, as every consequent experience delivered the same amount of pain, I started to wonder if something was just wrong with me. Unfortunately, this was the early 2000s, and I was too scared to look it up on the one school computer that had internet. I just assumed sex was either particularly painful for me, or was that way for everyone and nobody else was complaining. 

Also, the pain didn’t put me off. I was still a horny teenager with raging hormones and an intense sexual obsession with Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I still enjoyed clitoral stimulation (despite my equally inexperienced partners not quite grasping the concept) and wasn’t yet really aware that sex without penetration was a totally valid option. The general excitement of sex was enough to make me grit my teeth through the painful bit. I could always imagine it was Aragorn. 

And then in my late teens I had sex with a much older man in a respectful, caring and oh-so-hot tryst in a hotel room on a tropical island. He gave me my first full-blown clitoral orgasm (we’re talking pink fluffy clouds) followed by athletic sex in positions I’d never imagined possible. The sex was as painful as ever, but everything else was just so good. It was my first encounter with a person who actually knew what they were doing, and boy did it make all the difference. I found myself asking for more, harder, pushing my own limits, until finally and unbelievably, I came from penetration alone. 

I left that hotel room a changed person – pain, it turns out, could be its own source of pleasure. It was relief, as I’d all but accepted that sex was going to be a trying experience for the rest of my life. I also knew that this was most likely a fairly unique reaction. Very few people enjoy pain, especially as part of sex, I was lucky to have found a way to make it work for me. 

A few years later I moved to the big city, made new – equally horny – friends, and started investigating the BDSM scene. I figured, if, for me, pain could be pleasure, then BDSM could probably teach me a thing or two, and I was right. My first submissive experience consisted of me on all fours in front of a crowd being introduced to a variety of impact toys by an experienced Dungeon Master and his hilariously evil wife. Each toy created a different sensation. Some irritating, some titillating, and some downright orgasmic. It was exhilarating to be welcomed into a world that understood that pain could be a source of pleasure. At 21, I was a young person on the scene and I was lucky to find people who helped me explore this dynamic in a safe and supported way. I found the space to accept and experiment with pain in all forms, both in and on my body. 

Penetrative sex, with penises or dildos, continues to be painful and pleasurable in equal measure. Most partners I end up with have fairly large penises (or impressive strap-ons). I like to think that’s just by accident, but there’s probably an aspect of challenge as well – I’m always pushing thresholds to see how I’ll respond. Occasionally the pain aspect becomes apparent, and it leads to awkward conversations – “no, I promise I like it.. you don’t have to go slowly… I promise I’ll say if it’s too much” etc. It’s a fair response to question why someone wants to continue with something that hurts, so I don’t mind explaining. I just wish there was more knowledge about conditions like this, so it wasn’t so awkward each time. 

1 in 5 people who have a uterus have a retroverted one, to varying degrees. I have no idea what percentage of those people experience pain, but I’ll wager it’s a lot higher than anyone realises. I’m fortunate that, unlike Lily and her vaginismus, the pain is something I can accept and enjoy. It’s a particular reaction that I doubt many people have. By the time I was diagnosed at 22 by a very caring sexual health doctor, who got very angry about the incompetence of all my previous doctors, I was happy to know what was going on… but mostly angry on behalf of those who may never realise, and possibly continue to think something is wrong with them or never find a way around it that works for them (like taking penetration out of the equation altogether). 

Luckily, series like Sex Education are bringing conditions that cause discomfort during sex out into the open. Shops like Sh! Women’s Store in London now stock vaginismus therapy kits. My hope is that more young people become aware of the wide variety of bodies and ways of experiencing pleasure, and come to understand themselves and find help much earlier than I did.   

Everyone should be able to enjoy sex, in a way that works with their body and desires. I’m so glad I can. 

R.T. Collins is a kink, porn and sexual wellness enthusiast based in London. Follow them @DiscoWrites or get in touch at rtcollinswrites@gmail.com

Masturbation Monday: When Wanking is Work

First, some housekeeping:

  1. Sorry I’ve been away for so long. My site went completely down and my former hosting company were no help whatsoever, and were unable to provide any idea when they might have more information for me. Therefore I’ve switched hosting – shout out to the lovely folks at Skystra who got me back up and online in a little over 12 hours. If you’re looking for new hosting, please consider using my affiliate link to switch over – it doesn’t cost you any more and it makes me a small commission!
  2. The world has gone fucking bonkers, hasn’t it? Like almost everyone else right now, I am scared, stressed and freaked out. For now at least, however, I am declaring my blog a COVID-19/Coronavirus-free zone. It all sucks. #StayTheFuckHome. Let’s move on.

This week, I want to talk about masturbating when I don’t really feel like it. Specifically, when I have a toy to test – for a commission, or for a consultancy job, or just because there’s a post due on this blog and I like to stick to my schedule as far as possible. In other words, when wanking is work.

Yes, “getting paid to masturbate” (though sex toy reviewing is MUCH more than just wanking all the time) is kinda awesome. Except on the days when I have a review due and I really just don’t wanna.

So do I make myself masturbate when I don’t feel like it?

Yes.

Well, sometimes.

Please bear in mind that what I’m talking about here is the kind of “don’t wanna” that is more towards the “not really feeling it” end of the spectrum than the “black pit of despair” end. On the occasions when it’s been the latter, that’s when I go on a hiatus.

Getting in the headspace

I sit closer to the spontaneous (rather than spontaneous) end of the sexual desire spectrum, typically. This means that I can be mentally interested in sex and prepared for sex without anything specifically sexual happening. If you don’t know the difference between spontaneous and responsive desire, I recommend Emily Nagoski’s fantastic book Come As You Are. The short explanation, though, is that people with responsive desire often need sexual stimulus of some sort (not necessarily physical) to begin before becoming physically arouse, while people with spontaneous desire tend to want sex, well, spontaneously.

When I find I’m not in the mood, though, I have to tap into my own latent responsive sexual desire. This means, essentially, giving myself “foreplay” until I feel aroused enough to want to start wanking.

Often this involves reading some hot erotica. Sometimes it involves watching some porn. Sometimes it just involves giving myself time to fantasise, and touch my body in other places before zoning in on the genitals.

“But you should only do sex things when you really really want to!”

See, I think this is true… up to a point. When it comes to discussions of consent in partnered sex, it’s a solid place to start. But sex is complicated, desire and arousal are complicated, and we all get to decide for ourselves the circumstances in which we are and aren’t willing to engage in sexual activity – whether with ourselves or someone else.

The way I see it, just as sex can have different purposes, so can masturbation. Sure, I might have sex because I’m ridiculously hot for it and just need to rip my partner’s clothes off right this minute. But I might also have sex in order to feel emotionally close to my partner, in order to fulfil the other person’s desire, or just because we’re bored and it’s a good way to pass the time. Masturbation can also be many things. Because I’m crazy-horny, yes… or because I want to sleep more easily. Or to cure a headache, or, yes, test out a new sex toy and write about it for you guys.

Orgasm

For this reason, I don’t think all orgasms are created equal. I mean, I don’t know that I’ve ever had a BAD on. But some are distinctly more “OMG YES WOW” and others are more “welp, that was pleasant.”

So do I orgasm when I’m wanking-for-work? Usually, yes. To be honest, even if I’m testing a toy I hate I’ll try to squeeze an orgasm out of it (or, failing that, throw it aside in frustration, grab something I do like, and complain to you all on here later about how much it sucked.) But typically, how good the orgasm is directly correlates to how aroused I was prior to masturbating. (See also: why I have an orgasm denial kink.) So when it’s a more utilitarian session, the orgasm is less likely to be mindblowing. And that’s okay. The purpose of that session isn’t (usually) to blow my own socks off with orgasmic bliss. The purpose is to figure out how good the toy is so I can tell my lovely loyal readers (that’s all of you) about it.

What do you want to know about wanking for the purposes of journalism?

Ask away in the comments or tweet me!

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Masturbation Monday is a meme owned and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone is getting off to this week! This post contains affiliate links, which make me a small commission if you purchase through them.

[Guest Blog] What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries by Quenby

It’s a rare gem of a guest pitch that can say something incredibly important and make me giggle my ass off at the same time. That’s why this idea from Quenby went into the instant “yes!” pile. As a consent nerd and self-obsessed cat lady, I love the way they manage to nail the essence of both cats and boundaries in this piece. Let’s dive in…

What Cats Can Teach Us About Boundaries

Recently I was discussing boundaries with my datemate AJ and they said something that stuck with me. “When it comes to physical affection, I’m a bit like a cat!” (no, this isn’t a piece about kitten play!). This was a cute moment between the two of us, but the more I think about it, the more I think cats actually can teach us a few important things about setting boundaries.

It can take time.

You don’t walk straight up to a cat and pet them, you give them space and let the cat come to you. Whether it’s your first time meeting someone, or you’ve been dating for a while, sometimes you need to give your partner space. As someone who tends towards physical affection, this took me some time to get used to, and it’s something I still try to check myself on. But I try to come in without expectations, and give a partner time to relax and adjust to my presence. Letting them come to me can help ensure they’re comfortable and helps build the trust needed for us to feel safe lowering our inhibitions and exploring different forms of affection. And otherwise you’re just chasing a disgruntled cat around the house.

If a cat wants to be stroked, they will let you know.

If they want a belly rub they will let you know, and if they want food they will definitely let you know! Affection must be given and received on terms that everyone enjoys. You have to pay attention to your partners verbal and non-verbal signals, and take cues from them. As part of this we can also draw in the idea of love languages (the different ways in which people show that they care for each other.) Ultimately you need to communicate with a partner and find the ways you can express affection in a way that everyone appreciates. Because otherwise it’s not about your partner, it’s not about sharing a connection, its just about taking what you want from the other person.

Sometimes when you’re petting a cat they’ll suddenly stand up and walk away, because they’ve decided that they’ve had enough.

For consent to be meaningful, it must be continuous. Consent is not a singular moment, it doesn’t mean agreeing to something and then being obliged to stick with it. If you stop enjoying something, it’s always ok to stop. It can be hard to remember this when you’re in the moment. When your partner is right in front of you, excited for something that you also really wanted moments before, it can be hard to speak up. But (and lets say it together this time) if you stop enjoying something, it’s always okay to stop! And if your partner doesn’t respect that, they are in the wrong. And that leads us neatly to the final lesson.

Cats aren’t generally aggressive unless provoked first

But if you don’t follow these rules they will lash out, and those claw marks on your face will be your own fucking fault. If somebody fails to respect your boundaries, then you are entitled to be pissed off at them. Whether or not they crossed that boundary intentionally, they’ve fucked up and must take responsibility for pushing those boundaries. You have a right to establish boundaries and you have a right to enforce those boundaries.

This is intended as a light-hearted take on a serious topic – obviously human relationships are too complex and nuanced to be comprehensively explained by cats. But I think that the core lessons I’ve drawn out in this piece are a good starting point. Make time and space to develop trust, listen to what each person is saying. Above all respect the right to boundaries, and respect that those boundaries might change

However, it is also important to recognise that cats are not perfect models for consent practices. Below is a non-comprehensive list of lessons my partners cat really needs to learn on this subject.

What cats CAN’T teach us about consent:

– You should ask before showing someone your asshole, I’m sure it’s lovely but that’s not a dynamic I want to explore with you.

– Stabbing someones thighs should be discussed ahead of time. There are nicer ways to ask for attention you vicious little cutie.

– Climbing into bed while a couple are having sex is considered rude. Yes, we both love you, but in a very different way to how we love one another.

Quenby is a queer perfomer, writer, and activist. If you liked this post you can check out their blog, or follow them on FB and Twitter @QuenbyCreatives.

Masturbation Monday: Discovering My Denial Kink

Eventually, my Masturbation Monday pieces will probably move back into the realm of erotic fiction. But for now I’m not really feeling it so much. While thinking what to write this morning, I realised – I can’t believe I’ve never written the origin story of my main, ultimate, One Kink To Rule Them All fetish! So let’s talk about how I learned I have an orgasm denial kink.

Content warning: this one talks about mental health and makes brief mention of abuse in a relationship

An unfortunate side effect…

SSRIs can be brilliant. They can also be the fucking devil. For me, they were both. I was 21 and in my final year of University when my mental health took an extreme downturn, almost entirely – I realise now – as a result of being with a seriously abusive partner. You can read the story about how I ended up taking SSRIs here, but please heed the content warnings and look after yourself.

After a couple of weeks on citalopram, it actually did help. Somewhat. It mellowed out my extreme anxiety and took the edge off the worst of my depression. But it also had another effect: it made it impossible for me to orgasm.

I didn’t own any sex toys at that point, and always masturbated with my fingers. I first realised that something was wrong during a solo session where, whatever I did, I simply could not get myself over the edge. The same thing happened when I had sex with my then-partner. Things that usually worked just… didn’t. It was like there was a thick blanket between my cunt and anything that touched it, dulling sensation and making things that had previously been reliable orgasm triggers just feel… sort of nice.

Discovering denial…

I eventually broke through this orgasm block with a high-powered vibrator, and things got better after that. (Temporary anorgasmia is, it turns out, a known side effect. And I’m sure that part of the problem was psychological – worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to come is hardly conducive to great orgasms.)

But the weird thing was that, on some level, I kind of enjoyed it.

I didn’t enjoy not having the choice. I didn’t enjoy the fact that my body seemed to be betraying me. But the lack of orgasms itself? Yeah, I realised a few times that I was definitely getting a kick out of that. The frustration was, in and of itself, powerfully erotic. Finding myself constantly horny, almost always thinking about sex on some level, my cunt getting soaking wet so damn easily. The way that I’d still be aroused and unsatisfied after a sex session, and have to stop myself from squirming too much as my Dom slept peacefully next to me. Feeling my clit twitching, demanding attention that I knew wouldn’t be satisfying.

I vividly remember the first time I reached a hard edge. I was rubbing my clit harder and harder, feeling the wave of orgasm rising, sure that this was the time I’d be able to get myself over the edge. But it just… hit a certain level and then stopped. There was no peak, no satisfying spasms or clenching, no relief or release. I did it again and then again, trying in vain to push myself over the edge. I had to stop eventually because the overstimulation was starting to hurt. But that awakened something in me right then. Something that has played, to a greater or lesser extent, into the overwhelming majority of the sexual fantasies I’ve had in the years since then.

After breaking through the SSRI-induced orgasm issue, I mentioned this to my then-partner and asked if we could play with it. We did. I’m not ready to write about sex things I did with him in a positive way – honestly I’m not sure I ever will be – but suffice to say that getting to explore this kink was one of the few good things that came out of that time.

How did you discover your favourite kink?

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Masturbation Monday is a meme created and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week! If you enjoyed this piece, please consider buying me a coffee to show your appreciation… or join my sexy patron community on Patreon!

The Love Stories That Weren’t

I don’t believe in “The One”. I’m a hopeless romantic, yes, but I’m also something of a realist. The mere fact that there are nearly seven billion people on this planet makes it absurd to me to think that there is exactly one person designed for everyone to love. I mean…

“It’s just mathematically unlikely that at a university in Perth
I happened to stumble upon the one girl on Earth
Specifically designed for me!”

– Tim Minchin, “If I Didn’t Have You

Aside from the sheer numerical absurdity of the idea, my own experience shows that “The One” just isn’t a meaningful concept. I’ve loved a number of people in my life. Not all of them were healthy for me – some were pretty terrible – but the love I felt? That was real. And it isn’t retroactively less real because I don’t love them any more.

I say that Mr CK is the love of my life, and that’s true. But that doesn’t mean he’s the only person I’ve ever loved or could ever love. It doesn’t mean I think we were somehow predestined to find each other and be together. It means that in this chaotic world, we did find each other and he’s the person I have chosen to spend my life with – to walk hand-in-hand with along the path of life, hopefully until one of us runs out of heartbeats.

Don’t you think the idea of choice, of choosing each other again and again every day, week, month and year, is more romantic that a notion of some pre-determined fate? I do.

I’m also very aware that, for all the people I’ve loved or been in relationship with in my life, there are others which could have happened, and didn’t for whatever reason. So this is for the almosts, the maybes, the “right person, wrong time”s. The love stories that weren’t.

There was the one who was my first “what if…?” We were seventeen and I was already in a relationship. I didn’t have any kind of language for non-monogamous feelings, so I thought I was bad and wrong because I couldn’t stop thinking about someone while in a relationship with someone else. I don’t think he ever realised his crush on me was reciprocated. We’re friends to this day and he was one of the first people I ever came out to as bisexual.

There was the one who was significantly more fundamentally-monogamous than I am. We knew it had no long-term potential, but we were powerfully drawn to each other anyway. He and I danced around each other, kissing and pseudo-dating and doing kinky play and pretending it was all very casual, for the better part of two years. At one point, we were talking on the phone almost every night. He used to call me Kitten. I used to say “I love you” after he’d hung up.

There was the one I got on a train and traveled six hours, on little more than a whim, to meet. This woman who looked like a 1950s pin-up model and kissed me with lips that tasted of green tea. I was recently out of my first same-sex relationship and exercising the age-old wisdom that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else. She was curious, and her husband graciously gave her a one-night pass with me. I just wish I’d known the pass was only for one night.

Then there was the one with whom the chemistry was so intense and so immediate that I felt the zing from across the room. Though ultimately it amounted to little more than a single very hot scene, it’s a memory I cherish.

There was the one who I shared just one incredible date with. I remember looking at him across the table of my favourite Thai restaurant, wishing I could pour the moment into the empty wine bottle, cork it and keep it forever. I never did learn why he ghosted me afterwards. That one hurt for a long time.

I don’t like the concept of “the one who got away”. It has too many weird implications for me – and, again, is too tied into this notion of There Can Be Only One Real Ultimate Love. I prefer to think about it in the sense of how much possibility there is in the world. None of us, even the most polyamorous, could ever possibly explore every single possible love that might theoretically be out there in the world for us.

But isn’t that abundance of possibility just wonderful?

Masturbation Monday: Masturbating When Depressed

I know I’m depressed when I start masturbating not out of horniness, but out of a desire to just feel something. I know I’m really depressed when I stop masturbating completely.

Heads up: this one talks about severe depression and briefly mentions suicidal ideation. I also discuss needle play in a kink context. Please take care of yourselves.

The reasons for the former are perhaps self-explanatory. When you’re depressed, you can feel adrift, listless and lost. Finding a way to simply become grounded in your body again can be tremendously helpful. Orgasm releases endorphines and dopamine, the body’s natural “happy” chemicals. That’s why you sometimes feel spacey and euphoric after really good sex.

As both a writer and a person with a laundry list of mental health issues, I spend a lot of my life in my head. And my head isn’t always a calm and happy place to be. This means that the opportunity to get out of my head and into my body is precious. Masturbation can be a way to give that to myself.

Even if I don’t really want to masturbate, I sometimes make myself because I know it will help. It’s a bit like making yourself drink a glass of water when you’re feeling crappy. You don’t wanna, exactly, but you know it’ll make you feel better so you do it. And usually it does help, at least for a short while.

The latter, though, is harder to both explain and deal with.

When I’m in my deepest, darkest pit of depression – the kind where I either cry for days or lie on the sofa doing nothing while I seriously contemplate killing myself – I sort of lose the ability to properly feel anything physical. I’ll know intellectually that I am, for example, hungry or thirsty or needing to pee or that my left arm has gone to sleep. But I don’t really feel it, at least not in the usual way. It’s like all sensation is masked under a thick layer of cotton wool or a heavy fog. The best way I can describe it is that my sadness is so dense that it sits around my body like a physical barrier.

It’s at this point in depression that my sexuality completely vanishes. It’s at this stage where I’ll recoil if a lover touches me, and beg my partners not to talk about anything sexy. “I can’t bear it,” I wrote to one of my lovers the last time I was this sort of depressed. “Can we just forget I even have genitals for a bit?”

It’s at times like this that I neglect this blog and my social media accounts and seriously consider just shutting it all down because I’ll never ever want to have sex again anyway , right?

I think there’s another element to it, too. Depression, for many sufferers, is intimately bound up with feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. This is definitely the case for me. When I’m in the grips of it, I feel on a deep level that I’m somehow bad, broken, not worthy. And of course that drives a feeling that I don’t deserve pleasure, so why would I have sex or masturbate?

I’ve tried, in the past, to use kink to pull myself out of this headspace. The results have been mixed. Partners are often, very understandably, reluctant to do things like hit me when my ability to consent may be compromised by my mental state. This is especially true when I’m in the aforementioned self-loathing spiral. On at least one occasion, a Dominant partner has realised that I’m asking them to hurt me not out of kinky desire, but out of a feeling that I need to be punished for some fundamental flaw in me… and, rightfully, refused to play under those circumstances.

On another occasion a few years ago, I invited Fondlebeast over when I was in the depths of this kind of depression. I asked him to do play piercing (sometimes called needle play) on me. The express reason I asked for this was “I want to feel something so I know I’m still alive”. And you know what? It actually did help.

As an educator I don’t necessarily advocate for this approach. But in that instance and in that time, it was what I needed and it worked. There was also a very specific relational context at play. I’ve known Fondlebeast for well over a decade and we’ve played together dozens if not hundreds of times.

To bring this back around to masturbation, though, I really don’t have any easy conclusions or solutions. When the fog of depression is this dense, I don’t think the “just make yourself masturbate because you know it’ll help” would be effective. Chances are I wouldn’t physically be able to reach orgasm or probably even feel much pleasure anyway.

Sometimes mental illness just fucking sucks and all we can do is sit in the suckyness, waiting for it to pass. One of the most useful coping strategies I’ve found is to remember that it is always temporary. The fog always does lift. My sex drive always does come back. Eventually, I feel wanting of and deserving of pleasure again.

Something else I’ve found helpful is to think of my sex drive as the canary in the coal mine of my mental health. Under this schema, losing all desire is a warning light to heed, rather than a symptom to manage away.

How do you handle masturbation and sex when you’re depressed, lovelies?

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Masturbation Monday is a meme created and run by Kayla Lords. Click the logo to see what everyone else is getting off to this week! If you enjoyed this piece, please consider buying me a coffee to show your appreciation… or join my sexy patron community on Patreon!