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Self-Pleasure Changed How I Experience Sex

It took five attempts before masturbating made me orgasm, but when it did, it changed my sex life.

Sex

I purchased my first vibrator from Amazon a few months ago but barely touched it. I was still a little leery about having one despite receiving a couple "welcome to the club, girl" texts from my close girlfriends. I felt that this purchase ushered me into a new level of adulthood: self-pleasure.


I used it a few times here and there, but never fully got into it – not until this fifth time. I decided to set a mood; I poured a glass of red wine and turned on my favorite sex playlist. I dimmed the lights and started slow. To spare you the details, not only was it magical (finally), but making myself orgasm changed the way I approached sex going forward.

So many of us are conditioned to believe that sex is only for the enjoyment of men, not women. We're told that if we actually enjoy sex, and choose to have it to please ourselves, we're either selfish or whores – or selfish whores. We're implicitly taught that we are merely to be of sexual service to our sexual partners.

I carried this ideology with me for most of my sexual life, feeling that my body — and ultimately, my good-good — was for the explicit purpose of birthing babies and pleasing men. So, I did just that: had sex for the explicit benefit of my sexual partner. I did what they most desired (within reason) to make them orgasm. Whatever position they wanted, they got, regardless of if it felt good to me or not. Most times, I encouraged them to climax before I even thought about getting mine.

Even my moans were manufactured to make them feel like they were doing something they weren't.

It's not that I didn't enjoy sex – some of my partners were top notch – but sex felt more like a chore than a source of pleasure. My boyfriend wanted some, so I would give it to him despite me not actually being in the mood. Even as I got older and set my own sexual boundaries, I still did so with the man as a priority. I had the p*ssy power, but was still participating for him not me.

Masturbating was different. It was the one moment that pleasure was a priority for me and not anyone else. I was doing this to make myself feel better independent of a man. I wanted to be pleased without feeling like I had to please someone else in return. I wanted to feel good, even if it meant doing so myself.

Masturbation allowed me to do what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted.

It was liberating!

But not only was this new level of self-care extremely satisfying and freeing, it also changed the way I showed up for myself sexually, which helped improve my sex life. Here's how:

I learned my body.

This is a major key. Sex videos and karma sutra books offer great tips for spicing things up in the bedroom, but the most effective way to do so is to learn your own body. Giving myself the time and opportunity to explore myself, helped me identify what truly feels good to me without being swayed by the look of pleasure on my partner's face. This helped me identify what to ask for during intercourse. While many women may despise having to "teach" their partner how to please them, masturbating gave me comfort in doing so.

Men aren't afraid to do what makes them feel good during sex, even when the position is uncomfortable for women. They know what they like and they go for it.

Having finally learned what made me feel good, I started to do the same. Before this new exploration of self, I knew what felt good to me, but I didn't know what would make me climax. I left it completely up to the guy, who didn't know himself because he was too busy trying to get his (I can't blame him for that). Learning what made me climax helped me whip out the moves my body adored. I now knew what worked for me and I would stop at nothing to get it.

I became more comfortable with my sexuality.

I was a sexual person, and was generally okay with that, but the root of my sexuality was to benefit my sexual partner – not myself. I spent countless nights reading the face of my boyfriend to see what sex move was his favorite. I committed myself to pulling out his favorite moves, but not nearly enough time trying to master mine. Part of it was because I didn't even know what mine were (see #1), but the other part was because of the common narrative that women ought to serve and please men. Exploring masturbation helped me reject those notions and settle into me, sexually.

The more I did it, the more comfortable I became with the idea of being pleased. And that idea helped me become more confident with enforcing my own sexual demands. I wasn't afraid to ask my partner to do things that I knew would please me. I grew more comfortable with trying new things to see what worked for me. I became less worried about not doing his favorite things, and more focused on creating collective pleasure.

I didn’t need a man for sex anymore.

There's nothing quite like skin-to-skin intimacy, I must admit. But learning to masturbate and please myself made it incredibly easy to cancel any man that couldn't rise to the occasion. I didn't feel the need to fake-like someone or to massage anyone's ego anymore. If all I wanted was sex, I didn't feel the need to placate to appease anyone – I could just go home and let my rabbit do its thing. I had a new sexual expectation, and if it wasn't met then it wouldn't happen again.

This gave me a level of confidence and control that allowed me to dictate when, where, and (most importantly) how sex happened.

Sex got better overall.

Knowing what I like and being able to communicate it to my partner helped improve our sexual performance drastically. It no longer felt like an item on my to-do list, rather, it was something I actually wanted to do knowing that greatness was on the other end. This not only enticed me to want to do it more frequently, but it also allowed us to be more spontaneous with what we were willing to try. I stopped settling for sex that I knew pleased him, and started encouraging my partner to rise to the occasion of pleasing me too.

Sex became so much more enjoyable and pleasurable for us both – and with us both getting ours, things got much better.

Everything I thought I knew about sex before my rabbit was disproved after I learned how to please myself. My sexual encounters post-masturbation have been heightened by self-awareness and a demand to also get what I give. I am now equally focused on being pleased as I am about doing the pleasing.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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