Is daily masturbation the key to a happier life?
The new year is widely regarded as the time of new beginnings and self-work, with people around the world making resolutions to be better to themselves. “New year, new me,” is the screeching cry of countless weight-loss bloggers and self-improvement coaches, ready to upend your current existence — what’s wrong with the old me? The onslaught can overwhelm even the most gung-ho of self-care gurus, sending us back to where we started from, with the addition of unused gym memberships and receipts for life coaching. But what if there was a self-care challenge that left you feeling more relaxed — and sexier?
Women are flocking to the “30 Day Self Pleasure Challenge,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a personal challenge to masturbate once a day for thirty days. The earliest mention that I could find of this challenge was actually in April 2015, on a blog for a product called Sex Butter. Since then, countless reimaginings and imitators have surfaced, speaking to the popularity of the idea that maybe women would be happier and healthier if they had more orgasms.
The Sex Butter people say that they created the self-pleasure challenge to “inspire you to embody your sexual energy and create change coming from a great place,” and for women to enjoy “the benefits of orgasm including: glowing skin, better sleep, greater circulation, increased immunity, and feeling happier.” While the blog isn’t specific on how those things are supposed to happen, they’re entirely right that masturbation is good for you! Self-pleasure, especially when it involves orgasm, leads to better mood, improved sleep, healthier skin, less stress, improved immune function, and better circulation. It also leads to increased sexual satisfaction (because you get to know your own needs better) and increased partner satisfaction (because you’re able to take care of those needs on your own, which allows you to focus on your partner more).
For those of you asking what the “challenge” part of this is, consider yourselves lucky. According to a survey of 1,000 people, only 88% of women report masturbating, in contrast with 96% of men; and men report that they do the deed twice as often as women, who are only getting themselves off once or twice a week. These numbers are surprising, not in their disparity, but in how much things have improved. A few generations ago, even while doctors vibrated away women’s “hysteria,” the idea of a woman masturbating would have been almost unthinkable. Women’s sexuality has been largely kept under lock and key for millennia, a fact that is echoed in everything from religion and legislation to available pornography choices.
However, all that is changing as the “third wave” of feminism encourages women to take back their bodies — not via “free love” as in the 1960s, but in the form of radical “self love” in a society that has traditionally marginalized women. Internet searches for “porn for women” have increased consistently over the past several years, which serves as an indicator that more women are enjoying their own bodies than ever before. A number of specialty sites have popped up as well, serving up erotica geared toward the female gaze. Women are masturbating and using porn more than ever.
Where there is a movement, there is monetization. Even the 30 Day Self Pleasure Challenge was originally a marketing tool; but that isn’t necessarily a negative thing. As women masturbate more and watch more porn, they pay for more porn — which means that production companies make more porn and more products geared toward women having healthy sex, which leads to more women actually HAVING healthy sex, which leads to a society full of happy women teaching the next generation to have healthy sex. The more people who take the challenge and talk about it, the more women who proudly own their bodies, the more we normalize self-pleasure as a legitimate and necessary part of our sex lives.
Adcox, M. (2017, September 15). What can orgasms do for your skin? https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/orgasm-benefits
Gayle, B (2015, April 29). 30 Days Self Pleasure Challenge. http://sexbutter.net/30daychallenge/
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National Sleep Foundation (n.d.) Is Sex Helping or Hurting Sleep. https://www.sleep.org/articles/does-sex-affect-sleep/
Scott, E. (2018, November 17). The multiple links between sex and stress. https://www.verywellmind.com/sex-as-a-stress-management-technique-3144601
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