When I started out with the premise of making “my perfect dildo” masturbation was at the heart of the process. I knew I liked hard sex toys such as glass and steel and this was something I wanted to explore further. So, I set about moulding different shapes from clay, baking them in the oven and testing them out. I did this again and again until I had a prototype which I loved. Over 5 years, this labour of love organically developed from a personal project into a product called Prudence. And now I can share that joy with other people.
At the time, it felt extremely decadent doing something simply in pursuit of pleasure. It might sound like I knew what I wanted from the offset but learning how to listen to my body was a journey of discovery in itself. At first, I found it hard to separate what I liked the look of from what actually felt good. I applied a little theory and learnt that I like hard toys because they apply pressure to my G spot. Researching around the subject helped to connect the dots together.
When it comes to mindful masturbation, I’m not advocating that everyone take the same steps that I did. Rather that, this journey has to be unique to each individual. For you, it might not be about genital stimulation at all. There are all the senses to consider, be that smells and sounds, materials or textures. Or delving deep to pick apart your fantasies could be where you learn the most about yourself. For instance, if your mind wanders to group sex when you’re close to climax, that could be something worth exploring. And the devil is always in the detail; maybe it’s a specific word or image that comes to mind.
Exacting what I wanted out of a sex toy has forced me to be more articulate about what I generally want in bed. It’s not a process which has to stop anytime soon. As my fantasies move about and my body changes, I can still pay attention to where my mind goes. Then work out how I can make the devious suggestions my subconscious churns out a reality. Foam party threesome anyone?
Masturbation isn’t just a personal issue, it’s a political one. There’s a rich history of female orgasms being portrayed as something illusive and mystical. Something untapped by another person or indeed by a phallus. In most romcoms orgasms tend to look like they are thrust upon the female protagonist when she is truly in love. This generic vision of “what sex looks like” makes up the majority of what we witness from a young age, so it’s bound to mess with our internalised desires. In reality it would be unrealistic, irresponsible even, to expect another person to explain your pleasure to you better than you can. The beauty of masturbation is that the feedback loop is instant. Taking ownership of your pleasure is an emancipatory act and using it to create a vocabulary in which you can vocalise your desires helps dismantle this construct.
On a wider scale, there’s plenty of artists who harness masturbatory energy as a creative process too. Annie Sprinkle is the queen of such endeavours! In her piece “The Legend of the Ancient Sacred Prostitute” she dresses as a Sumerian priestess, casts an invocation and brings herself to climax in front of an audience.
“Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life, this “performance” was the most important and enlightening… I invite and encourage you to try doing this as well. Let me know how it goes.” says Sprinkle.
In crafting this work of art, she honed a practise called: “Medabation” (meditation + masturbation). Medabation emphasises the transcendental aspects of arousal as an altered state.
Patti Smith also talks of harnessing these moments of focus when making her work:
“I’ve been accused of everything, including masturbation. And I come on stage. Almost every night I come on stage. Sex–coming–is about concentration. I can come while I’m writing, if I’m really there. Orgasm is peaking your concentration … Patti Smith
And although it’s different for everyone, I feel there’s a universal quality to that “in the zone” feeling. Masturbation is about playing with yourself. It’s probably one of the only times we, as adults, let ourselves get lost in the moment – and that’s really powerful. So be playful! Be dirty! Be selfish! Because you are truly the expert in your own sexual pleasure and the more you know about it, the better.
Ffion Harman is the founder of the porcelain pleasure tool brand Fine Bone and here she shares about the creative process of pleasure and performance.