Netflix became a valued friend and adviser to countless millions during the course of the coronavirus lockdowns. From it, we learned that we need catchy theme music and a supportive group of good-looking, likeable people in our lives in order to be happy (Friends).
We also learned that we can tolerate anything for 10 seconds. Then we can start anew on another excruciating 10 seconds (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
But the most illuminating Netflix lockdown lesson we’ve streamed so far has nothing to do with attractive friends or how long we can endure torture.
The lesson that we found most enlightening revealed that it doesn’t take much to make Gwyneth Paltrow blush. Not more, in fact, than just a bit of explicit coaching on how to tone her pelvic floor.
When the survival of humanity seems to be in question, things get put into perspective. Your priorities shift. Little details that would have been insignificant in pre-pandemic days mysteriously gain new and vital importance.
The scene to which we refer was filmed for the Netflix reality series, “The Goop Lab.” The show allows the viewer a documentary-like glimpse into Paltrow’s millennial-friendly lifestyle business.
In this particular scene, Paltrow’s instructor was no less than Betty Dodson, the fine artist turned evangelist for female self-stimulation.
Dodson – who passed away last October – was preaching the benefits of a Kegel-like exercise that she says can help trigger an orgasm.
“Lift up, squeeze, release,” she said, prompting Paltrow – who sells a $75 candle called This Smells Like My Vagina – to blush as pink as any lovestruck teenager.
Getting Rid of the Masturbation Stigma
Paltrow’s bashfulness is understandable. If anything, the unexpected truthfulness in her lovely turn of color reminds us that women just don’t discuss wanking as comfortably as men do.
Even in the midst of a highly-contagious global pandemic, female masturbation, arguably the safest sex act of all, is still a taboo subject for many.
Women simply don’t talk about it that much – unless, of course, they happen to be characters in Sex in the City.
It’s time we change that – for Ms. Paltrow’s sake and for the sake of all women languishing alone in lockdown right now.
Today, we’ll try to shake off the persistent social stigma surrounding female self-stimulation with some basic masturbation tips for women.
Knowing Your Lady Parts
Of course, the first step towards successful self-stimulation is understanding your own body. Now, don’t be discouraged by the fact that you may not know what to call all your parts.
For our purposes, the first and most important step is getting to know how to ‘use’ them.
That said, Lisa Lister, creator of wellness website The Sassy She, provides some simple, straightforward definitions in her book, Love Your Lady Landscape.
Vulva: “This is the outer part of your lady landscape. It includes the clitoris, labia lips, urethra and entrance to the vagina, and its opening is almond shaped.”
Clitoris: “The bean-like bump you can see on the vulva is just the tip of the iceberg. This tiny erogenous zone spreads the feel-good-love to 15,000 other nerves in the pelvis, which explains why it feels like your whole body is being taken over when you orgasm.”
Vagina: “This is a pulsing muscle that opens and closes between the cervix – at the base of the uterus – and the external opening.”
Setting Up for the Escargot
With that in mind, psychologist Erica Landis and writer Annamarya Scaccia assert that ensuring a conducive setting and attitude can mean all the difference in your intimate explorations. Learning about yourself should be fun and comfortable, after all.
“Think about turning down the lights, lighting some candles, and listening to relaxing music to get the mood going,” Landis and Scaccia advise. “Let your mind fantasize about people or situations that send tingles down your spine.”
Once you’ve got the setting and the mindset right, it’s time to get down to business. Strawberry Siren, former Miss Burlesque Australia, says a good way to familiarize yourself manually with your lady parts is by using the “Escargot” technique.
“Starting at the base of the vagina, lightly drag your fingertip at a snail’s pace towards the clitoris,” says Siren. “Make sure you don’t put your finger in too deep at this point, as you want to avoid touching the urethra.”
The Princess and the Pea
While masturbation doesn’t have to lead to orgasm, there are a few things you can do to help your body achieve the Big O. The proper stimulation of the clitoris is obviously an important component of the process.
Being the most nerve-rich part of the vulva, that part of the feminine pleasure anatomy contains over 8,000 nerve endings. That is twice as many as those in the male penis.
Siren says you can put those nerve endings to good use with a simple clitoral-stimulation method she calls ‘the Princess and the Pea’ technique.
“Making sure the tip of your finger is nice and moist, slowly pull the hood over the clitoris back and gently stroke the head of the clitoris,” she says. “You may also want to use a small circular motion, depending on your preferences.”
Meet the Scissor Sisters
Don’t despair if – like many – you’re confused by the sheer variety of extraterrestrial-themed sex toys and neon dildos available online. Our experts think it’s best to go manual.
Lister says that, while sex toys can be a good way to introduce newcomers to the art of self-pleasure, it’s best to avoid becoming dependent on them. “The real fun and pleasure come through when you use your fingers,” she says.
You can exercise them and ensure guitar-player dexterity using Siren’s “Scissor Sisters” technique. The method makes full use of two fingers, in particular: the index and middle.
“Making a peace sign with your hands, place each finger on either side of the outer labia,” says Siren. “Then, while pressing down lightly, wiggle the fingers towards each other, squeezing and lifting the labia together between the two fingers.”
You can, of course, use this technique in conjunction with your other hand – if you enjoy deeper, simultaneous exploration.
The Art of Edging
In the mood for solo sex with a more meditative Eastern flavor? Gender and development consultant Srushti Mahamuni suggests you try “Edging.” Be warned, however, that this particular technique is easier said than done.
Use any of the masturbation techniques above – or do your own thing – and, as you approach orgasm, stop just before climax. Yes, stop.
You can stop for a minute or an hour “depending on your patience level and what else you have planned for the day,” says Mahamuni in an article for the India Times. Then, of course, you start again, approach and delay – repeating as many times as you like.
“Remember to allow yourself to climax eventually and enjoy an intense, earth-shattering orgasm,” says Mahamuni. “It’s definitely more about the journey rather than the destination with this technique, although the destination feels delicious too.”
The point is to extend the pleasure which, as Lister points out, helps you appreciate the entire experience rather than simply racing for the finish line.
“Be as indulgent as possible,” Lister advises. “By doing so, you’ll build a better relationship with your own body and as a result, be able to have more confidence in a relationship to say exactly what you want and when.”
(Feature Photo Credit: Amaurii Jimenez/Flickr)
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