Rupi Kaur, the ‘period stain Instagrammer’, puts it aptly enough in her book Milk and Honey. No one home? Give yourself some love. Can’t take that wild video? Let your juices overflow. Bored? A few sexy sighs never hurt. Better still, make poetry of it, as Rupi does. Or like Rosalyn D’Mello, who dedicates an entire chapter in A Handbook for My Lover to the act of masturbation, turning it into one of the most romantic manifestations of nature.
But what makes perfectly normal people in perfectly normal relationships, especially marriages, want to pleasure themselves when a sure f*** is perhaps just 12 hours away from the next?
In a Bonobology survey conducted among urban people in relationships, 43% of respondents said they satisfy themselves regularly while 37% said they do it sometimes. This, when sex is presumably not a rarity in their lives.
Related reading: Here’s what it takes to satisfy a woman in bed
While nightfalls and dream-gasms may be involuntary forms of the act for males and females respectively, these figures are perhaps the most prominent ‘coming out’ of a closed-door phenomenon, sadly still considered a taboo in larger India. What’s the big deal about loving yourself, we ask!
“I do. At times even after we have been together if I am not done, I do. And loving myself and someone else loving are two different acts, I love pleasing myself…,” explains one of the female participants of our survey. For others, exploring oneself is a precursor to letting their partner explore their needs better. “It helps me understand what I like so I can try it with my husband,” says a wife.
Logan Levkoff, PhD, a sexologist and sex educator, says in his e-guide that the most damaging myth about masturbation is that it’s a sign something is wrong in your relationship. “The fact is that most guys masturbate. They masturbate if they’re single, in a bad relationship, or in a great relationship. It’s just something they do that has nothing to do with their partners. Masturbation isn’t only about sex. For many, it’s a routine way of relieving stress, clearing your head before work, or going to sleep,” he writes. Levkoff believes that women, too, would be more sexually satisfied in their relationships if they took a cue from men and stopped seeing the act as something unnatural or weird.
Related reading: Why are women still embarrassed to admit they masturbate
In popular culture back home, a prominent recent example could be the film Margarita With A Straw, where two female friends walk into Delhi’s Palika Bazaar to buy themselves a dildo and the shopkeeper, just finishing his puja, asks them very casually to wait while he reiterates how it’s a hot-selling item that he also recommends it to his own wife.
In Leena Yadav’s powerful film Parched, even rural women discover the joy of the vibrating cellphone which comes without the liability of a household in lieu of supposed (and often absent) sexual happiness.
In other cases, there’s the trigger—is it bad or no sex with your spouse? Loneliness or a lack of romantic connect despite good sex? Is it the new office crush you fantasise being in bed with? Or the hot actor or neighbour next door? Is it that what makes the act seem so ‘wrong’? The fact that making love to yourself is often doing it with someone else in the mind is why a lot of people somehow connect it with cheating and a feeling of guilt. The truth is, IT’S NOT. It’s a natural adult impulse and any inspiration must only be seen as an inevitable instrument in its coming about. If anything, you should give yourself a pat on the back for not giving into temptation and instead of doing it all on your own!
It’s okay to give yourself a high as long as it is not turning you away from sex with your partner(s) or draining your libido down to a zero. Plus, it’s also a good fix for when the bad fight with your partner persists or his/her being away, prevents gratification.
When you reach in to make yourself feel good, you are releasing a lot of good hormones, working up a good heartbeat and doing a mini-workout while reading your body’s needs and nuances better. There is also no right or a wrong number of times you can do it in the day, as long as it is not hampering your work or family responsibilities or turning into a compulsive and obstructive habit, which is when you should raise an alarm and see the doc. Till then, look (and feel) within!