The Trials and Tribulations of Self Pleasure

Words by: Dinithi Perera
Film by: Paisley Chiew

The first time I touched myself, I was 17. Featherlight fingertips over my underwear, barely grazing, unsure of where and how I should touch. I was burning all over, mind delirious with need. It was too much and not enough all at once. So, I slipped my fingers further in, heart thrumming in my chest.

That night, in the velvety darkness of my bedroom I worked myself to a state of euphoria — belly tightening, limbs locked, a pleasure so sharp it was almost painful.I felt like a rubber band about to snap, and then I didn’t. Or did I? I had no clue. Reeling from the sudden drop, I endeavoured to bring myself to another high only for my desire to fizzle out completely.

I wouldn’t touch myself again for another three years, weirdly enough. For reasons I’m not sure, I did not once have the urge to masturbate again after that night.

Now in my early 20s, I’ve started masturbating regularly, mostly to explore my sexuality. I’m not in a relationship nor do I really want to be hooking up with other people, so I’ve decided to take things into my own hands.

I’ve experienced a lot of firsts on this journey — from awkwardly inspecting myself with a small mirror, to worrying about staining my bed the first time I tried using lube, and cringing at the titles I was browsing through on Pornhub. I’ve also learnt some things about myself, like how my sex drive is a bit erratic and while I prefer reading erotica to watching porn, I get the most turned on from my own imagination.

And though it has been fun to explore my body, as someone with a vagina, chasing after the elusive orgasm
hasn’t been as empowering. Frustratingly, I have not yet experienced a climax, or at least not in the earth-shattering way you see in films and porn. Often I’ve wondered if there was something wrong with me because I don’t seem to be experiencing it like everyone else.

The way women and sex are depicted in mainstream media and entertainment has left very little to the imagination of the subtleties of female pleasure. I’ve never once experienced the kind of intense orgasm that has women screaming and shaking all over the way they do in films, and it makes me wonder if I’m missing out.

There have been times where I’ve felt my legs go heavy, times where I’ve felt myself clench uncontrollably, felt that warm sleepy haze wash over me after – all potential signs of an orgasm according to Google, yet I remain unsure. When I had asked a friend she had said “oh trust me you’ll know,” which was super helpful (read sarcasm). Maybe the logical conclusion here would be that I clearly have more self-exploration to do in order to experience that out-of-body kind of orgasm, but I also think any way in which I’m experiencing pleasure is just as valid.

There is so much pressure placed on achieving an orgasm that we forget to just enjoy ourselves and not to take things too seriously. The expectations I had on myself to perform made masturbation feel like a chore sometimes, and it should never feel like that. Instead now I’m trying to think less and just go with the flow. I’m learning to embrace the awkwardness, anxiousness and confusion that comes with self-exploration, and to enjoy myself regardless.

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