When I was a budding twenty-something feminist clad in technicolor hair, a perma-sneer, and a wicked wit, I wore a button that said “You Probably Think A Clitoris is a Dinosaur.” At that time in my youth, I believed the button was directed at viable male partners. Looking back now, I realize that as far as my personal truth went, my clitoris may as well have been a dinosaur for how up close and personal I ever got with it. Fast forward a decade. By then I had found my gold mine and was in the habit of giving it plenty of attention. I took a job in SOHO in NYC working at a fancy-ish sex toy shop as a sex-educator. Really, that meant that I worked the retail floor but fielded intense sexual, emotional, and physical queries throughout any given day while still being paid less than my American Apparel counterparts. But I was doing the work of THE GODDESS, man. Helping ladies and their partners enjoy their bodies, their physical connections, and living high off the hog of service satisfaction. Courageous women walked in and asked difficult questions and often walked out armed with information and possibly even objects that would change their lives, new members of the Cliterati.
Today, we spend a lot of time and energy over here focusing on the body. We cleanse our livers, we stretch our quads, we breathe from our diaphragms, and we make sure our skin is exfoliated with vibrant regularity. But earlier this month when I wrote an article on quitting sugar that suggested a healthy way to add pleasure into our lives without choosing sugar might be to indulge in a stop at Masturbation Station, I got almost as many emails about that as I did about quitting sugar. So, let’s talk about it.
I believe that sexual health is just as important as macronutrients. And one can be sexually healthy whether one has a sexual partner or not. Our bodies come equipped with a tiny piece of real estate located just above the vaginal opening that may as well be made of diamonds. The clitoris, located under a tiny flap of skin known as the clitoral hood, is packed with over 8000 nerve endings. To get some ideas of how sensitive that is, compare it to the vagina which has less than 1000, most of which don’t reach past the first inch of penetration. Of course, every woman’s body responds to stimulation in wildly different ways, be they emotional stimulus or physical. So, some ladies climax relatively easily, while others have the gift of getting plenty of attention to arrive at orgasm, which, by the way DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THE GOAL.
So since we are so interested in keeping our bodies healthy, here are a few suggestions for keeping the hot southern regions engaged, happy, and healthy. Pleasure is a key part of a healthy life and as fully liberated and accountable women, we get to make sure sexual health and pleasure are just as important as getting to kickboxing or yoga.
1. Take a good look: Have you ever looked at your goods? We used to carry Betty Dodson’s Sex For One in the store that had these great line drawings of all kinds of vaginas. The whole page is covered with shapes and winglike labia and gorgeous manta ray looking beauts. Seeing the drawings in the book made it easier for women to grab a compact and just get on down there and check out the lay of the land. Once everything is in focus, it’s much easier to experiment, discover, and explain what you like.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice: This isn’t a “Practice makes perfect” situation. This type of practice is about deepening our own beliefs about our bodies and our sexual validity. Think about how people speak of yoga as a practice or meditation as a practice. People don’t practice meditation to become good meditators; they practice because the consistency of the action brings a richness to their lives. Sexuality is no different than that. When we practice examining our fantasy lives, finding physical sensations that turn us on, or embarking on an adventure with a new vibrator, we add dimension and depth to our holistic sense of well being and health.
3. Speaking of Toys: Getting ourselves some sex gear has NOTHING to do with whether our partner is a great lover or not. It has nothing to do with whether WE are great lovers. Sex toys are objects we get to add in to our sexual play, solo or with lovers, that can aid us in playing out a fantasy, experiencing new physical sensations, or to support our creative minds. After all, our brains are the most powerful sexual organs we have.
4. Thanks, Body: OBVIOUSLY we compare ourselves to any number of media ideals from actresses to yogis to personal trainers to music icons. Part of having a sexual practice that includes the pleasure of masturbation is about accepting our bodies exactly how they are. Just yesterday I had something weird to say about my dang EYELIDS in a photograph. So during masturbation is the perfect time for us to thank our bodies for the opportunity to feel such an incredible amount of physical pleasure. And just as we are, we are enough.
With all the attention we spend getting ourselves the right food, making time to exercise, getting acupuncture, and brewing the perfect tea, it’s high time we schedule in some Down Low time. Because 8000 nerve endings, it turns out, have nothing to do with dinosaurs. Find it, hang out with it and TOUCH IT, women. Because you’re worth it.