I’m a bit late saying so, but in case anyone doesn’t know, May is National Masturbation Month. It began as National Masturbation Day, first observed May 7, 1995 and was later upgraded to a month-long commemoration of what surely must be one of life’s simplest and most universal pleasures.
The day and then month was introduced by the San Francisco based sex-positive retail store, Good Vibrations, in the wake of the dismissal of U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, by President Bill Clinton, for suggesting at a World AIDS Day presentation, that masturbation, as part of human sexuality, should be included in sex education curriculum. Since Elders unjust firing, Good Vibes has held annual events to serve as public health education programs about the promotion of safer and healthier sex , and to increase awareness and de-stigmatize the practice of masturbation — which is, after all, the ultimate in safe sex. A Masturbate-a-thon will be held May 30th at SF’s Center of Sex and culture, as a fundraising and no partner sex event, providing participants an opportunity to enjoy one’s self, and one’s exhibitionist tendencies. The act, however, must be done alone, since assistance by another counts as partner sex.
Thinking about this takes me back to my own life as a masturbator. I recall fondly the time I spent fondling my girl-parts in the family bathtub — sloshing about in the warm soapy water until I was wrinkled all over — or until my mom broke my rhythm by rapping on the bathroom door, demanding to know what on earth I was doing in there for so long.
Interestingly, as pleasurable as the feeling were, I don’t recall bringing myself to orgasm back then. The first memory I have of experiencing a no-doubt-about-it, knock-my-socks-off orgasm was at sixteen, when I got off using the vibrator my mom kept by her beside, one day when she wasn’t home. It was one of those old-style, gun shaped instruments, with a thick, screw-shaped metal shaft fit over the metal part. It was marketed in those days as a neck massager, and knowing my mom, that may be what she used it for. But for me, somehow the the loudly buzzing instrument found its way between my legs, igniting a sweet, intoxicating heat greater than any positive sensation I knew existed. I almost passed out as an unexpected orgasm ripped through me. After that I recall some lengthy experimentation with the various attachments. They were all good but the broad flat one became my favorite. Back then, being young and bursting with estrogen, I came repeatedly until I was limp with satisfaction.
After that enlightening afternoon I had a new best friend for life — particularly after my teenage marriage and consequent discover that penile penetration, although highly pleasurable just didn’t get me off. Unfortunately, my first husband was rarely patient enough to bring me to orgasm with his hands or mouth. If not for the trusty vibrator I bought myself and used in secret, I might have gone high and dry. It wasn’t until the mid-70s after moving to San Francisco that I discovered Good Vibrations, the first sex-positive store for women I’d been to in my life. Back in those pre-HIV awareness days the store featured a tiny try-out room — and as long as female customers kept their panties on, we were free to discover the vibrator that best suited us. I remember entering the room with a possible selection and emerging weak-kneed and a Hitachi Magic Wand girl for life. I’ve worn out a number of them over the years, using them alone and with partners and have loved every moment of doing so. tweet @DorothyFreed1
I realize I’m meandering all over the place on my way to blogging about my life as a sexual adult that began in 1961, and has now spanned six decades. I’ve had a lot to distract me lately, in the form of a writing class, a family visit, a May vacation to plan, B&Bs to decide on and a new and frequently mystifying Twitter account to learn the ins and out of, (all fun and exciting things) — plus an injured shoulder from doing the Bridge pose dead wrong, and a knee and a toe injury, not to mention my computer running amuck and requiring money spent on repairs, (not fun or exciting things at all) — I’m just now getting around to a short post about my recollections of sex in the 90s.
My husband an I continued to enjoy the Bay Area BDSM party scene until about the mid-90s. As a straight male, moderately bisexual female couple, our sexual interactions were primarily with each other — punctuated by the occasional and delightful safe sex encounter. And as such, our focus was on enjoying the social aspects of membership in the kinky community, in addition to the considerable stimulation of the live theater aspects of public BDSM.
Still, the raging STD epidemic was unarguably of grave concern to the entire sexual community. By then, never mind personal safety precautions, most clubs and play spaces had adopted a mandatory safe sex requirement on their premises — a sensible measure with which most thinking people agreed — although I still shake my head recalling one outraged male dominant expound on the outrage and indignity of being required to wear a condom while penetrating his own wife. I suppose the issue of how a dungeon monitor could be expected to know whose wife he was penetrating, evidently did not occur to him.
All in all, I have relatively little to say about the public BDSM scene in the latter part of the mid-90s. I’d turned fifty by then. For me, those were the menopausal years, the years of mood swings and hot flashes, accompanied by unwanted weight gain and plummeting sexual desire for the first time in my more than thirty-five years of sexually active life. For my husband, who was three years older than I, it was a time when most players around us seemed younger with each party we attended — and we were no longer that super hot, still youngish couple with whom everyone wanted to play.
Those were also the years of increasing career responsibilities and aging parent responsibilities, combined with young adult offspring responsibilities and that our aging dogs grew infirm, making us loath to leave them. By mid-decade, although we continued to play privately and occasionally with other couples, as time and hormonal imbalances allowed, we gradually and regretfully dropped out of the public BDSM scene.
It turned out that my decision to change my lifestyle for a less promiscuous one was excellently timed on my part. During the 60s and 70s — as far as the average, sexually active person knew — STDs resulting from indiscriminate sexual contact could be treated and cured with antibiotics — and dreaded exceptions, such as Herpes or genital warts, could at least be treated to manage symptoms. And this mindset, based as it was on lust and ignorance, generated a less than desirable level of vigilance about safe sex. But with the advent of the 80s and the newly discovered AIDS epidemic, for many people sexual behavior underwent an immediate and radical change.
The term “safe sex” entered our vocabularies. Bowls of condoms began appearing at party houses and sex clubs. Casual hook-ups, even with the use of condoms were viewed as potentially dangerous behavior. Consequently, one-on-one came into vogue again. Romance was back. Celibacy was celebrated. True love waited. People talked of marriage again.
Personally, I didn’t plan on taking matters that far, but although I retained grave reservations about the institution of marriage itself, I did feel ripe for a committed relationship. What I wanted was a special type of partner — a sexual main-man, so to speak, someone strong and emotionally secure — with the steadfast dependability and trustworthiness of a platonic best friend, combined with the erotic focus of my most favorite lovers. And I wanted this, please, all rolled up into one hot, hard, erotically adventurous man, to be enjoyed on a longterm basis.
Missing from this equation was someone to have that relationship with.
With further pursuit of casual hook-ups now off the table, I found men who turned me on and who were likely candidates for commitment to be disappointingly few and far between. But although I felt lonely and horny without my accustomed sexual distractions, I was unwilling to settle. My main social interactions were with my young adult children or women friends, or an occasional fling with an old friend-with-benefits. Aside from that I stayed home a lot, adopted a dog who turned out to be excellent company, and began to clarify my specific relationship needs in my mind, based on my plethora of personal experience.
The culmination of this semi-celibate time in my life was the personal ad I placed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, in late 1983. The responses were many, but the one that mattered came from a man who had somehow read between the lines of my relationship ad, and responded with a letter — we wrote actual letters in those days — offering me “a special kind of erotic intimacy”, that he sensed I craved. I have no idea how that clever man knew that the most secret desire of this strong, capable, feminist woman was sexual submission.
How could he know, I wondered, when I barely knew myself?
But the man was right on, and I became his woman on that same night we met, following our initial meeting and negotiation at a San Francisco coffee-house — although I always maintained I wasn’t easy, because I made him buy me coffee first. And to our genuine surprise and delight, our alternative lifestyle relationship resulting from my newspaper ad has endured to this day.
Yes, there was a life after promiscuity. And yes, there was life after vanilla sex.