I just read a most interesting set of blog posts over on Molly and Michael’s blog – on reactions to partners masturbating. I’d ask you to read both posts first. Molly’s is “How I feel When I Am Not Used” and Michael’s is “It’s My Penis and I’ll Wank If I Want To.”
The discussion brought me up short. It shocked me in a gentle sort of way. It forced me to think about how I conceive of masturbation and sex drive and sex with another person, and how I associate them. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to associate these things. My only goal here is to proffer my own perspective, after a little consideration.
Or a lot of consideration.
What I discovered is that I conceive of my own sexuality in radically different modes. I have an intensely erotic relationship with myself. I don’t let anyone else into it – there’s no room for anyone else. It is utterly mine and I have never had any desire to share it. The idea of allowing anyone – even someone I loved and lusted after passionately – into this part of my existence literally makes me want to bring up my breakfast. The prospect of having to make room for anyone else in this part of my life is repulsive to me.
The erotic intimacies I share with another person are completely unrelated conceptually. Yes, there are genitals involved, yes there are orgasms involved, but they are entirely different discourses of the body. One is about me, the other is about us.
Meanwhile, I have always simply assumed everyone felt this way. When my lovers masturbated (unless they started in front of me and it was clear I was meant to be a witness or a participant), I assiduously gave them their space to do it, because that is what I would want and I assumed they felt the same.
God knows, I have never wanted to be distracted by the realism of a lover, of another intellect, or another body when I’m in self-service mode. I want the space to fantasize about all that is NOT possible or even desirable in reality. I don’t want him or her in my face when I’m having a nice implausible wank about something with tentacles or Donald Trump. Meanwhile, I would never allow myself to fantasize about being with someone else while I’m being sexual with my lover. I’m weirdly Catholic. When I’m with them, I feel the need to be absolutely with them, mind and body. And perhaps, for that reason, I need my autoeroticism to be mine alone.
Masturbation is often presented as a substitute for sex with someone else, or somehow lonely. And perhaps for many people it is. But not for me. It’s never a substitute. It’s always a glorious act in and for itself. And I never feel lonely; I love my own sexual company.
Now, of course, I realize that most people are probably NOT like me. And perhaps those times when I politely left a lover to their own devices after interrupting their wank, they saw it as a rejection. I hope not. But perhaps. Who knows?
What about you? Where does masturbation lie in your constellation of erotic possibilities?