I Touch Myself

Below are a few excerpts from a conversation about masturbation and arousal that I had with my best-friend Bean the other day, with a smattering of statistics thrown in for good measure. The Kinsey Institute should study us.

Bean and I have been best-friends since college, and while we used to live a few blocks away from each other, she’s now on the other side of the country, living in sunny Beverly Hills and writing for an award-winning television show. Distance be damned, we still seek solace in one another when suffering from lovesickness. In this particular episode, Bean, also a label-free bisexual, has a crush on a girl she knows, while I’m smitten by a barely-legal, tanned-and-toned, one-hundred-foot-tall trainer at my gym, who Bean and I refer to as “the puppy” because he’s maybe 22 years old. For those of you looking for insights into female masturbation, this may be illuminating. Hopefully for anybody else it will just be funny. For me and for my pal, we’ll take one for the team and be mortified, all in the name of science, sexuality, and self-stimulation.

For the record, “That Guy” is the nickname we’ve given a past prize, a penis that has been mounted and hung above my mantle, metaphorically speaking of course.

And it should be noted, I’ve recently become a practicing Catholic, excluding the Church’s backward stance on social issues. No, I’m not kidding.

Bean: Go to Babeland. Get a new toy that you name “puppy.”

Me: No way, dude. My brain is bad enough right now, I’ve got overcooked peas in my skull. Half the day I spend obsessing about him and the rest I spend praying to the Virgin Mary to sanctify my body, purify my soul, and protect me from earthly temptation. It’s like two me’s at war. And I like using my hand more than toys…though maybe I could break out one of ’em tonight, just for varieties’ sake.

Bean: You’re like Madonna in the nineties. Half-obsessed with Catholicism and half-obsessed with hot, olive-skinned trainers. And I prefer my hand to a toy also, but sometimes a new toy goes well with a new crush. It’s like you actually brought them in there.

Me: Your imagination is stronger than mine. I can’t even think about my crushes as I do it. It’s all Trent Reznor in the Closer video and Maynard James Keenan from the centerfold of a Hit Parader issue I had as a kid.

Comparatively, us ladies have some catching up to do when it comes to the masturbation department. Two-thirds of dudes beat off, but that fraction seems awfully low to anyone who has ever known a dude, ever. 40% of women in a recent survey say they pet their kitty, with 20% of women under the age of thirty doing it once a week, and 7% doing it every other day. (What about those of us who look at it like brushing our teeth?)

It also should be noted that girls usually start exploring their buttons at around 14 or 15 years old, while boys usually start between 9 and 16 years old, with the average age clocking in at around 12. Predictably, that’s how old I was when I started. By 15 I was a professional and my parents just thought I read a lot of books alone in my room.

Nearly half of all women between the ages of 18 and 49 have admitted to getting themselves off in the past 90 days. Which means that, out of all your younger lady friends, at least half of ‘em have made a puddle. Including your sister(s) if they’re in that sweet spot of legal to MILF.

As for manual versus assisted stimulation, 53% of ladies admit to using a vibe, while 17% of guys have beat it with a buzzing buddy. Gentlemen, where do you put it?

But for those of us girls who make self-love an affair we hold in our hands, we do it in myriad of ways, with 4% pillow humping, 3% pressing their thighs together, 2% using a shower head, and one girl in New York simply listening to the audio tape of Christian Bale losing his shit on the set of Terminator Salvation. (Ahem.) Fewer than five percent of girls surveyed said that they always penetrated themselves, while ten to fifteen percent said they sometimes did. Things that were ingested by the lowest mouth included fingers, sex toys, and, oddly, household objects and candles. I’m assuming tapers, not pillars.

Me: Your fantasies are linear? They have a narrative?

Bean: Yeah I more or less do a slug line as I begin. Like, INT. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY – EVENING

Me: You hump in the library in your head?

Bean: Sometimes. I mean, all kinds of places. I pick a setting, I describe it to myself, I describe our outfits to myself, then I get started. It’s like a really well thought out porno. It never has a denouement.

Me: You should write porn. Or my fantasies. Because I’m in a healthyish mental state now, it’s harder.

Bean: What do you mean?

Me: I mean that I miss the days of being choked and punched in the face in my head when I came. It was so much easier then.

Bean: Ohhh.

Me: Now I’m all like, “And we lay there. And we listen to Nitzer Ebb and New Order. And the sun rises. And then we kiss.” And it takes me like two hours to get off.

Bean: That’s most women, I think.

Me: It used to be touch, choke, cum/punch, sleep. Five minutes, tops. It was like a hockey fight. Now it’s like a Merchant Ivory film.

The average time a porno is watched in a hotel is 12 minutes, so one can assume that it takes roughly that long to bring oneself to orgasm. Stats show that women are more emo in their sexual fantasies, while men are, unsurprisingly, more “sexually explicit.” Ladies also have a tendency to dream about being dominated, while guys conversely think about being in charge, doing something in particular to a partner, having multiple partners, or Adriana Lima covered in beer.

Oh, and undoubtably related to all of our fantasies, over half the time spent on the Internet is reported to be sexually related in some way. Duh.

In 1977, researchers discovered that men judged being aroused by “blood volume” better than ladies, but that men and women were equally as apt at accurately gauging their arousal based on their pulse. All of this is to say that hard-ons are pretty good indicators of being turned on, but these researchers pulled out all the stops. Penile train gauges, vaginal photoplethysmography, and monitors for genital pulse amplitude, genital blood volume and heart rate were all used. And if you’re one of those awesome weirdos who gets off on medical kink, I just gave you a serious boner.

Apart from the physiological responses of arousal, researchers in the past ten years finally confirmed that men’s fantasies are more focused on the visual, with “explicit anatomic detail” (read: double-Ds, ass) while women fantasize with a greater emphasis on emotions, caressing, and making muffins for them in the morning.

According to a 2004 United States survey, 30% of people fantasize about infidelity, 21% fantasize about having a threesome, and 10% fantasize about having sex at work. So I’m really hoping that the object of my affection is a part of that 10%.

For scientists who really like syphoning the fun out of sex, there are means of scrutinizing the differences between men’s and women’s fantasies. Theoretical frameworks like social constructionism and sociobiology can be used to compare and contrast differences along the gender line. Is it because of social influences that men are more geared towards mental images of a buxom threesome? Do biological factors determine that ladies will fantasize about familiar lovers, or is it the ancient sociological emphasis on chastity and security that still have women daydreaming about their one and only? Fuck it, pop in some porn and let’s find out.

Bean: My fantasies also have really good one-liners in them.

Me: Really? You’re witty?

Bean: Well, like, sexy ones.

Me: I just have That Guy’s one-liner. Over and over and over again. And the way he said it…

Bean: I’m trying to remember. Or maybe I blocked it out. What was it again?

Me: Man, nothing ever done to me will top the Two Things That Guy Did. The one time he said “good girl” and the first time he pinned down both of my wrists with one hand and got me off with his other hand.

Bean: OkCupid asked me how I would feel if someone said that to me in bed! And I said bad! We could never, ever, ever have sex.

Me:  I mean, I would never say it. But it was the way he said it. “Did you come?” “Uh-huh.” “Good girl.” Mid-act. While thrusting.

Bean: Oh barf. Sorry.

Me: That’s fine. More tall boys for me, thanks.

Bean: “Are you getting curious yet?” is one I use in my head.

Me: Oh wow. You’re like fantasy Scorcese. Or an episode of The L-Word.

Bean: “I want to do things to you that would make you forget your first name” is another.

Me: Damn, girl.

Bean: “You have a sexy laugh” always gets her to make a first move in my head.

Me: Huh. That’s not a bad one. How will he make out with me? I mean, he has two feet to stoop. It’s gonna get awkward.

Bean: Well, he could say something like that. I think that line might actually work in real life. Telling girls they have a sexy anything empowers them, I think

Me: That’s true! Girls get sexy for the word sexy! He’ll be like, “You have a sexy top of your head” and I’ll climb up him. Like a monkey or a koala. Maybe with a running start.

Bean: Your situation is very Dirty Dancing. That was a movie I’ve referenced as I constructed my fantasies. “I wanna kiss you.”  “Who’s stopping you?” It’s another back and forth I rely on.

Me: Hmm…wow. I’m imagining how poorly that would go for me if I said that. “I wanna kiss you.” “Sorry. I’m up here.”

So, statistically 4 out of 10 women prefer rubbin’ their nub to sex, but what about dirty talk beyond this Internet-originated lagnolalia? Sex toy company Adam & Eve performed a survey and found that 80% of participants engage in smutty speaking while getting it on. 12% of those surveyed said that it’s “always” a part of the act, while 33% said it only was a feature of foreplay “sometimes.” Only 20% of the 1,000 people surveyed said that dirty talk was off the table and that they didn’t say anything naughty no matter what. But Bean’s fantastic one-line lubricants aren’t exactly porno dialog, and they aren’t a great indicator of what she’s like in bed at all. But I can’t think too much about that, lest we both receive bizarre electric shocks to the skull. Thinking about Bean in bed is more taboo than thinking about naked family members who have AARP cards. Mentally, it’s a cold shower. I mean, she listens to Tegan and Sarah. She listens to them. Like, for fun.

As a final turn-on tidbit: right now, at this very minute, 797,151 people are masturbating. That’s more people touching themselves than the population of Alaska. Which means that I’m now going to refer to masturbation as “seeing Russia from my house.” Unrelated to manual stimulation, can you believe that idiocy was four years ago? I still have fantasies about skull-fucking the former governor of the 49th state. Put that in your mental porn stash and loop it.