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For most of my life, I didn’t know how to masturbate properly.

There, I said it.

For the majority of my teenage years and early 20’s I came rarely, and when I did it was always because of a penis. If I’m going to be completely honest, I would say I was scared of my vagina for a very long time. The squishy wetness of my own vulva, something that I’ve come to love, frightened and confused me in the already terrifying and confusing days of high school and University.

I didn’t grow up in a prudish home. I mean, I saw my mother naked every day. My sister and I shared a room throughout primary and high school, not to mention the one small bathroom that we all fought over in our modest three-bedroom house.

I grew up in not the most liberal place. Our suburb was poor and rough, and surprisingly conservative for somewhere that had a high rate of welfare recipients and immigrants. In high school, with puberty in full raging swing, conversations about blow jobs and condoms were rife. The popular group especially loved talking about sex and were considered the bravest, and therefore coolest among us – they were giving each other hand jobs at 13 years old in the back of Maths classrooms. All the talk was centred around guys and dicks; boys had all the control in this realm and there wasn’t anything you could do to change that. Boys wanking was funny, but female masturbation was off-limits, and anyone who did that “was like, totally weird and gross’’. Even at this tender age, I believed in my heart that this view was silly and judgemental, and if it was being spewed by the airheads at my school, it surely had no validity in the real world whatsoever, but as was the norm in the B crowd, you bowed down to whatever gospel the A group spoke. I believe, this was the start of my complicated and negative relationship with my own genitals.

I didn’t explore hedonism, or the oddities of the wide world of porn like my peers did, another impact upon my stunted development. It wasn’t until I moved out of home that I really began watching porn. But even then, most of it freaked me out and I didn’t spend the time trying to search for what I really wanted to look at. Hell, I barely knew what I liked in real life.

This was how I became a fully grown woman who didn’t really understand what her body was capable of and how wonderful it was to be in her own sexual company.

I knew the basic idea of penetrative sex by the time I was 6 years old, but I didn’t understand my own orgasms as a fully-grown woman. It shows you what era I grew up in, right? One where ‘porno aesthetic’ was the pinnacle of beauty; fake tans, hairlessness, youthful baby faces, abs and tramp stamps. This bland form of explicitness that I learnt from music videos in the early 00s was the look of my first fantasies.

Unbeknown to me, I was masturbating long before I even knew what female masturbation was. When I was about 11 years old, lying on the top bunk of my childhood room, I would fantasise about being a fully-grown woman with large breasts grinding up against a man. This would always happen in a range of luxurious settings; pretty hotel rooms, spa baths or gleaming kitchens. I would imagine our bodies being close together in various states of undress, I would imagine what kissing would feel like, I would visualise the type of movement and positions our bodies would have to carry out. Things that I had learnt from movies I wasn’t allowed to watch, but I never, not once, imagined what our genitals would be doing. I didn’t even know what an erect penis looked like at that point.

While I did this, I didn’t touch myself. I would lay as still as I could, pressing my already womanly-sized thighs together, believing that any sudden movements would betray me to my parents, who would occasionally pass by our open bedroom door. I got addicted to that tingly feeling that spread through my entire pubic area and made the rest of body glow from the inside out. After a while, my legs would ache, but I got used to and enjoyed that feeling too. My cotton underwear would fill with a clear substance that I didn’t understand, and worried me. I told no one.

I was 20 before I knew I was capable of ejaculating.

I had been causally sleeping with a 32 year old. One Saturday in the middle of summer, we were fucking in his ramshackle house in Petersham. I felt the need to pee, but suddenly it stopped and I had felt a kinda ‘pop’ inside me. After he had come, I realised there was a wet patch directly under me. At first I thought it was sweat, his sweat. It was a very hot day, after all. But then I realised it was in a very localised area on the sheet and it was directly underneath my crotch. It must have been something that had come from my own body. It wasn’t till later that day that I realised the wet patch had been ejaculate. I was shocked and amazed that I, like the men I slept with, could in fact ejaculate when I came. I was ecstatic (it would be 5 years before it happened again), but it brought me nowhere closer to understanding my own body and sexual desire.

Couple_hands

In the last three years, I have been perfecting my technique. This was only achieved with the help of female and queer orientated pornography – both still images and video’s, plus educational articles mostly written by women and queer sex educators, or adult performers. I finally found places online that displayed sexuality in a raw, beautiful, wet, funny, sweet, sexy way that wasn’t misogynistic and scary to me. This transformed my attitude towards my own vagina and made me feel like a better feminist (I was practising what I was preaching!).

My journey from seeing sex in a misogynistic way that sanitised human bodies, to finding media that celebrated the truly human, squishy, wet aspects of my own body, helped me to not only masturbate with more ease and confidence, but made me feel more beautiful and proud of being me.

When I moved out the second time, I had the benefit of full double mirrors attached to my built in wardrobe. These made it easy for me to admire my naked form and to view what my vagina looked like, from every angle. I began to take more nude photos of myself than ever before. I realised the only way I could continue on this positive sexual journey, the only way I could be truly achieve what I wanted to in my relationships, in my writing, in my life, was of course to accept myself on the inside, but also to accept what every part of my body looked like, including my genitals.

I found that the act of putting on sexy lingerie and taking photos of myself was very arousing, and if I wanted to, I could share that with my partner, but I could also just do it for myself. I also began to figure out that my interest in female/lesbian orientated porn, was very linked to the way it displayed vaginas. Seeing other vaginas on screen made me feel okay about having one too, and made me proud of the fact that my vagina secreted different fluids and smelt a certain way.

LesbiansKissing

Roxy credits female & queer orientated pornography with helping her.

In some instances, I was the source of my own desire and instead of viewing this as weird, I embraced it. Making time for myself to completely enjoy my own body and actually stop and think, ‘wow, I am beautiful’, while I’m touching myself, or taking photos of myself has completely transformed my love life and my confidence. I feel, now more than ever, I wield this strong, sensual power and it flows into everything I do.

Maybe, for some people touching themselves has always seemed natural, a given. But for me, learning how to do it in a more positive way, and unlearning the unhealthy things I thought about my own body, has transformed my identity and my experiences, in and out of the bedroom. I feel that since I started becoming more present while masturbating, and really exploring (what I think is) ‘good’ porn, I have been better able to understand my arousal, my desires, my feminism and how to have better sex with my partner.

RoxanneGroebel

Roxanne Groebel – The author.

Words by Roxanne Groebel. Check out her Tumblr page Smart and Filthy

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