NaMaMo – loving ourselves over and over

graffiti that reads, "make love to your body // sing the praises of every cell"

yes yes yes

Morning, you — how’s your body feeling this morning? Your writing hand? Your heart?

So, it’s May — this means Spring in many parts of the (northern) world, and it also means National Masturbation Month! It’s the 13th now, which means we’re about halfway through this month dedicated to self-pleasure. NaMaMo was originally developed by  Good Vibrations as a response to the firing of former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who had the audacity to publicly state that masturbation “is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.” She believed that if we taught young people that masturbation was healthy and normal, they might be less likely to engage in riskier sexual acts.

Just imagine if you had been taught that masturbation was normal, and then imagine that the community around you supported that message — if our society as a whole revered masturbation as a healthy and joyful erotic act, rather than something furtive, pathetic, and/or funny.

Talk about radical self care — masturbation can be one of the best ways to love yourself! There’s a Woody Allen quote, from the movie Annie Hall, that goes, “Don’t knock masturbation — it’s sex with someone I love.” And we maybe laugh self-consciously at that, but the truth is, that’s not always the case for all of us, is it?  Masturbation isn’t always sex with someone we love. But it can be: masturbation can be part of the practice of (re)learning to love ourselves, to adore the wholeness of our bodies, to tend to the quiet and achy and gorgeous places in us that want and need touch. We can learn the kind of touches we like and prefer — this is great information for us to have, because later, when we want to have sex with someone else, we will know some of the ways that we want to be touched. Information is power. Knowing our own bodies is a powerful act. We can learn and explore our folds and protrusions, our most sensitive spots and, too, we can learn the kinds of touches and strokes that we don’t like — that’s necessary information, too.

The Center for Sex and Culture is hosting their annual Masturbate-a-thon over the weekend of May 21-22 (yes, during and after the Rapture) — what a great cause to support, and what a wonderful way to participate: raise money according to the amount of time spent masturbating or orgasms reached!

While I was looking for details about the origins of National Masturbation Month, I came upon this amazing blog from last year: Shanna Germain‘s NaMaMo site! Last year, Shanna came up with the great idea of inviting folks to not only masturbate daily for a month, but document it creatively in some way — writing, photography, song, dance, whatever! Check out her great prompts (a month’s worth, or more!), both for writing and for self love.

The gorgeous and brilliant Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha performed an incredible piece about self-love, self-reclamation, community love, community reclamation — about fucking ourselves back into ourselves — back in 2009 during Sins Invalid. (I’m sharing part three here, but check out parts 1 and 2, too!)

How many of us have used masturbation as a way to come back to sex, to our bodies, to and through trauma, and then felt ashamed about it? How many of us haven’t felt ashamed? How many of us have used the shame the next time we got ourselves off? We use it all, we have our bodies back in our own hands.

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There’s a prompt that I offer that goes, “This is how I want you to touch me –” and generally I think of it as one character talking to another. But this morning, I’m going to invite you to consider this prompt as your body speaking to you or your character’s body reaching out to them: how does your body want you to touch yourself? Take 10 or 20 minutes today, and let the words flow — try to keep writing for that whole time, keep the hand moving, there’s no need to stop or censor. Whatever comes is just right.

Thank you for all the amazing ways you love yourself — for your creative survivals, for your stunning words.

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