We’ve been there – masturbating then suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of shame once we’ve cum. Why are we like this? While we don’t have all the answers just yet, we’re here to unpack why this feeling overcomes us at this pivotal moment, and how we can begin viewing masturbation as an act of defiance.

What is masturbation?

Jerking off. Having a wank. Rubbing one out. You name the euphemism, we’ve heard it. Put simply, masturbation is the glorious act of self love, self service, and solo exploration we experience when we stimulate our bodies for sexual pleasure. 

Why do we masturbate?

This one’s not so simple. Sometimes it’s about the destination, other times it’s about the journey. We masturbate out of boredom, arousal, curiosity, to wake us up, to help us sleep, to release tension, for intimacy, connection, celebration, rehabilitation and all sorts of complex reasons. It’s important to understand that the urge to masturbate isn’t anything new, and it’s a completely normal and healthy part of being human.

Why masturbation can feel shameful 

Whether we like it or not, our world (family, religion, education, society, advertising, etc.) informs and shapes our views and opinions about pleasure and, more specifically, masturbation. With conversative groups at the helm of institutional structures, it’s no surprise that the act is still commonly shrouded in secrecy, taboo and shame – a shame in itself. 

You might’ve been told off as a kid for exploring your body or you might have experienced partnered guilt when it comes to self-pleasure due to societal pressures and stigma. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. 

As Nina Chausow puts it in Vic Liu’s ‘Bang: Masturbation for people of all genders & abilities’, “One of the most insidious qualities of guilt is how isolating the feeling can be… The simplest way to address masturbation-related guilt, while challenging and terrifying, is to share your experience with someone else…”

Whether it’s a friend, partner or health physician, discussing our feelings around shame can really shine a light on the ghosts of our guilt and remind us that we are all deserving of pleasure, and that masturbation is a healthy and positive part of that. 

Why masturbation is kinda badass

As pleasure educator and somatics coach Euphemia Russell puts it in their book, ‘Slow Pleasure’, “Disembodiment is a structural and systemic issue, not a personal issue. We live in a world where the broader structural and institutional beliefs heavily influence and sneakily infiltrate our personal beliefs about our bodies and pleasure.” 

Masturbation is a simple act that reminds us of what it feels like to be in our bodies. You know, that radical concept of embodiment. It reminds us of what it’s like to be human in a truly autonomous way.

When we masturbate, we reconnect with the divine knowledge within ourselves; healing the disconnect perpetuated by the world around us. Our capitalist society wants us to stay disembodied, to consume more and feel less. But when we stop to notice, to slow down, check-in and feel, we develop a greater sense of self and a growing ability to experience pleasure, sensually or otherwise.

How masturbation has helped people reclaim the bodies

Feminist movements in the ‘60-’70s helped women to claim their pleasure, making shops that sold sex toys more socially acceptable. It was a time when masturbation was an act of defiance. And for this, we are eternally grateful.

This movement inspired innovations like the classic Hitachi wand (the vibrator that inspired later toys like the Doxy), launched into the masturbatory mainstream, in part, through a series of workshops run by early pleasure activist Betty Dodson. 

Foreplay for masturbation

  • Take a long hard look at yourself. Grab a mirror or set yourself up in front of one in all of your nude glory. Reacquaint yourself with your genitals and build visual rapport with your body.
  • Set the tone. You don’t need to bust out the candles, but it does help. Create a safe and sensual space that’s just for you to enjoy and ‘be’ in. Not sure what you like? Experiment with temperature, lighting and soundtrack. Remember, setting the mood is also a matter of the mind and if you experience issues with physical sensation and pain, it helps to take things slow and start by imagining sensual scenarios first.
  • Curate a toolkit. This can include lube, porn and toys or simply the touch of your skin. Remember, it’s all about prioritising sensation for you, however that resonates.
  • Take things slow. You are the master of this space and you define the pace. There’s no pressure to climax, rush, cum a certain way. It’s all about you.

  • How you can reframe the ‘ick’

    The next time you masturbate, remember that you are reclaiming your pleasure, reconnecting with your body, and remembering what it’s like to be human. And that pleasuring yourself is a pure act of rebellion in a digitally disembodied world.



    Masturbation May is upon us and to celebrate, we've created the Passionfruit Self Pleasure Challenge - 31 daily challenges to expand your self love practise. Each one, a stroke of genius!