Self-care for all: Nothing to be Ashamed of.

Note: Yes, I have changed the name of this post because the internet is weird.

This morning, I read a post on the Humans of New York page about a young-ish man in NYC who says he is an artist, and is afraid of his Mom seeing a sexy painting inspired by female masturbation.

People commented about how nice he is to shield his parents from sexual images. But do mothers need protecting?

I mentioned that Mothers masturbate too.

The response to my comment has been very interesting, from “EW gross” to “You’re creepy” to “kids these days are sexually repressed” to “I know it is true but I don’t want to think about it.” And then a few who heartily agreed that mothers do in fact get off.

There is an idea in our culture that parental bodies can’t be sexy, or even that they are dirty and need to be covered up, hidden, denied, that the body of a mother is somehow different from that of anyone else.

What’s the harm in denying that women, and especially mothers, are sexual beings who may choose to participate in a very wide spectrum of sexual and sensual behaviors, including masturbation? Well, shame for one. What is there to be ashamed of in enjoying one’s own body? Repression and shaming of a mother who is not afraid of self-pleasure is obnoxious. It promotes the idea that all mothers are the same, and that being a mother confers some special status other than just “Any person who has given birth or been given the full-time care of another person.” Hey, people, one day you may even get turned on by/want to have sex with/actually have sex with/be a mother! Shocking.

But it goes even deeper than just the effect cultural repression and denial of sexuality has on mothers. When we deny ANY category of humans their sexuality, we all lose. Because all humans from birth to death have a sexual side. It is a spectrum, from just a minor part of us to  a very important part of us, but it exists in some way in all.

And the idea that sexuality belongs to young (but not TOO young!) attractive heteronormative perfect people is destructive. It is not that we all have to dwell on specific thoughts that elders or those with different abilities or those with nonconforming bodies have a sexual side, but we can’t actually deny it. People who are not exactly like you can be sexual beings too.

It is not our place to deny or control anyone else’s sexuality or consensual sexual acts just because  we are personally comfortable with it, or believe we are without actually giving it much real thought.

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And where does our idea of who can and should be sexual come from? Religion, marketing, media, our personal feelings of shame, our own body image, our family and culture?

Now what does this have to do with health, you may ask? A LOT.  Shame, repression and denial of our sexuality can contribute to emotional distress within ourselves and towards those whose sexuality is  not accepted by society. Masturbation is a cheap self-care strategy which may support healthy sleep, emotional release and overall relaxation of tension and it is a basic right for ALL people to have access to it.

It has been an interesting exercise to see just how deeply many people’s fear and disgust around this subject really run, and it is a personal mission of mine to shed a little light on the subject.

While I respect your right to be repressed and full of fear around your body, I do NOT accept any person trying to push that crap on me and I stand for mothers everywhere, people everywhere, who wish to do whatever the heck they want with their own bodies, and don’t need protection from the very idea of mothers as sexual beings.

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