Nicolle Hodges:

10 women who touch themselves (and their resources for self-pleasure)

Photo credit: liane via Unsplash

As the world experiences the Great Pause, it is also worth considering using this time for Great Pleasure. Here are 10 women who consider self-pleasure a form of self-care, and the resources or tools they use to instigate erotic energy.

Carlyle Jansen

Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, Toronto's premiere sexuality shop and workshop centre.

“Sometimes there is a fear of using a vibrator because it’s not a ‘real’ or ‘natural’ orgasm, or that it doesn’t count unless it’s during intercourse. Sometimes people use vibrators on their own but they are worried their partner will be threatened by it. The reality is, some of us need a vibrator. Some of us need glasses to see, a calculator to do math, or a vibrator to orgasm.”

Carlyle’s suggestions for pleasure:

I'll Show You Mine: Images of vulvas and stories of why people chose to participate in the photography project

Sex Yourself: Her book, also available through the Toronto Public Library
Come As You Are and Workbook by Emily Nagoski

The Elusive Orgasm by Vivienne Cass: Good for women who do not orgasm

When Sex Hurts: A great resource for anyone who experiences pain around sex

Educational videos and TedX talk with Carlyle Jansen

Jessica O’Reilly (aka Dr. Jess) is an award-winning sex and relationship expert.

“I think people in relationships are feeling pressure to connect sexually with their partner. Some of us just aren’t in the right headspace to do that and we might be better off just connecting with ourselves. There is pressure that just because you have a partner you should be having partnered sex and shouldn’t engage in solo sex. There is so much shame and expectation around self-pleasure. Why would you want to touch yourself when I could touch you? We see one as a replacement for the other, while masturbation is a complement to the sexual repertoire.”

Jessica’s suggestions for pleasure:

We-vibe, app-enabled devices

• Mindful Sex Course through Happier Couples

Angelina Blessed (right)

Angelina Blessed is the founder of Blessed Edibles.

“Knowing how to give yourself pleasure is knowing how to give yourself comfort, and isn’t that the ultimate form of self-care? You can go to the store and buy a doughnut, or take a bath, or do something that topically makes you feel good, but if you can do something from the inside that makes you feel loved, that’s special. Self-care is part of survival right now.”

Angelina’s suggestion for pleasure:

• Name your vibrators and make blanket forts

Christine Wild is the author of Just Bad Timing (Wild & Other Words, 2018), and hosts the podcast Running Wild With Christine: Sex, Success and Other Slippery Rabbit Holes.

“I’ve learned not to expect everything from me. Isolation has been a huge wake-up call. I think of myself as someone extremely sexual and have had to deal with the repercussions of that for most of my life. I found myself to be super non-sexual at the beginning of this. When you feel that when you’re busy and working, the excuse is that your battery is low. Suddenly, I was rested and didn’t have to perform, but I was still feeling that way. I reached out to see a therapist and it pushed me to try other key pieces of the self-care puzzle. It helped me remember that I can tell my partner to close the door and leave me alone so I can be with myself and focus on me, whether that’s to take a nap or turn on all six of my clit-suckers.”

Christine’s suggestions for pleasure:

• Lubes from Intamo Pleasurables

• Follow these accounts on IG:

Luna Matatas is a sex and pleasure educator with over 10 years of experience in sexual health and wellness.

“Self-pleasure as self-care is related to our erotic wellness. We can’t really separate our erotic energy from our other energy, and it translates in non-sexual situations as our creative energy. It’s a part of ourselves we need a relationship to but we tend to pay attention to our pleasure when we are serving someone else’s desires. Self-pleasure can be such a great place to learn more about yourself; it’s self-development, relaxation, connection, intimacy, learning about your body—all things that feed into that funnel of how you can better take care of all parts of you.”

Luna’s suggestions for pleasure:

• One of her workshops on anything from sex toy joy to group sex etiquette

Kait Fowlie

Kait Fowlie is a tarot-reader, teacher and reiki practitioner who holds space for others to heal and grow.

“If I’m trying to force myself to do things that don’t feel good, that’s not caring for myself. Pleasure is something I prioritize in my life as something that is good for me. It took a long time for me to teach my body and my brain that it’s good to feel good. I think about this quote: ‘all acts of pleasure are my rituals.’ To me, it’s the simple act of bringing more intention to something, whether that’s eating a nice meal or having a glass of wine. If I’m bringing my whole awareness to it, that’s pleasure.”

Kait’s suggestion for pleasure:

• Steven Halpern's chakra playlist, which makes me feel like a rainbow

Katrina Marie is a student of Dr. Betty Dodson and certified to facilitate her legendary Bodysex circlesa deep self-pleasure ritual.

“Self-pleasure is a way to give myself the high quality attention I find so nourishing from others. It is the way I self resource and make my own desires a priority. I am not a person who gets hit by horniness or desire. I have to show up for it and be curious and patient and focused. Masturbation is that for me. A way to deeply listen to myself and give myself what I need, moment to moment.”

Katrina’s suggestion for pleasure:

• Her Bodysex workshops in Toronto, L.A., or at home

Dr. Catherine Blackledge

Dr. Catherine Blackledge is a sex and fertility education campaigner and the author of international bestseller Raising the Skirt: The Unsung Power of the Vagina, which celebrates the beauty and power of female genitalia.

“Everyone begins their life with an infinite capacity to experience and enjoy pleasure. This is as true of genitally-focused pleasure as it is of any other source. Foetuses orgasming in the womb underline this. But how a person responds to sexual pleasure during their life is a mixture of both the physical processes the body is undergoing and completely subjective perception of what those processes represent. Sadly, a lifetime, or merely a childhood, of being told to ignore genital sensations or of never being told genital pleasure is to be valued can have a blunting effect on a person's response to sexual excitement and pleasure.”

Catherine’s suggestion for pleasure:

Her #SayVerenda campaign and online petition to get the almost forgotten word verenda added to the dictionary as the positive, respectful word for the vagina. Names have power: verenda means the parts inspiring awe, respect, or reverence. Girls and women deserve better than front-bottom, fanny, or foo-foo. Please sign and share the petition.

Sierra Holmes is a brand designer, art director, and illustrator currently working in Vancouver.

“Self-pleasure helps us tap into our deeper selves. It helps us slow down and relax and tap into a different state of mind in order to be more creative without channeling that into an external stimulant, like a person. You can listen to yourself and learn how to give yourself what you need.”

Sierra’s suggestion for pleasure:

• Lap dance classes with Dani Nadeau, or any workshop through The Bad Academy

Alisha Fisher

Alisha Fisher is an international relationship coach, who has been involved in the field of sexology since 2011.

“Self-pleasure not only has benefits that are very important right now, like being an immune booster and stress reliever, but it can also empower someone to love their body and their connection to it. The sex tech world is finally validating all the various ways bodies can experience pleasure in their own way, and not a performative one for a male gaze. Today, it is not merely about large dildos... There has been a reclaiming of our bodies and sources of pleasure coming from more than just a penis or a vagina. Pleasure can be a full-body experience, and this notion is incredibly important for everyone to realize, but especially those who are survivors of sexual violence.”

Alisha’s suggestion for pleasure:

• Erotic literature, like Lexi Sylver's book, Mating Season

Additional resources:

Four Chambers: Creative pornography project making short films with sex & cinema

Chakrubs: Natural crystals that bring a sense of sacredness to your playtime

Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On: Personal stories reveal how the intersection of sex, technology, and intimate relationships is rewiring us in fundamental ways

Literotica: Free sex stories, erotic fiction, and adult audio

Hysterical Literature: Online video project capturing women reading while being stimulated (off-camera)

ZeroSpaces: Sexually explicit media project

OMGyes: Discover new ways to increase sexual pleasure, based on new research with 20,000 women

Other recommended intimacy coaches:
Olivia Lara Owen
Layla Martin
Brittany Ann
Kim Anami
Dr. Stephen de Wit