Do Happy Couples Masturbate?
“I have an important question about married life, which remains incomprehensible to me, but I am trying to understand,” I Gchatted my childhood friend Vanessa last week. She’s been with her husband for a decade. “When the hell do you masturbate?”
If a hobby is an activity pursued for pleasure, then masturbation is perhaps the hobby most of humanity shares. Though the prevalence of masturbation varies by age, most men and women in all age groups say they do it, and the majority of Americans of both genders continue to indulge at least up to age 60. But contrary to what you might think about handsy adolescents, today’s most frequent masturbators are between the ages of 25 and 29 — a group very much in the relationship stage of their lives. Born not long after Betty Dodson published her revolutionary masturbation how-to Sex for One (the 85-year-old leads female-masturbation workshops to this day), they were raised solidly in an age of sex-positive feminism, easily accessible erotica, and general sexual openness and transparency.
Not that the role of masturbation in a sex-positive relationship is entirely clear. On the one hand, pioneers like Dodson have helped to align sexuality with self-empowerment, which has taught us to think of masturbation as a healthy element of a diverse sexual menu as opposed to a shameful, inadequate substitute for sex — even from day one in a fulfilling relationship. Most studies find that a big majority of married Americans report masturbating (and since it’s self-reporting, that probably undersells it). “Even if I had all the men in the world that I wanted in my bed, even if I had Ryan Gosling, I would still masturbate with sex toys,” French sex columnist Maïa Mazaurette recently told me. “I don’t want to go back to a world without plastic!”
On the other hand, well, masturbation is sort of inherently antisocial. Within the bounds of a relationship defined, in part, by both partners’ willingness to devote sexual energy to one another, it can be downright rude. Can we ever really get over the embarrassment of purely personal indulgence? Or take the indulgence of your partner as anything other than a rejection of you? Even if we want to be open, practically and emotionally, exposing deeply private habits to anyone — even the one you love — is reflexively uncomfortable. And hearing your girlfriend rev up her vibrator after saying she’s going to sleep early can be hard to shake. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean that the negotiations won’t be awkward or that the concessions will be easy to get used to.
The practicalities are particularly awkward in New York, where personal space is always at a premium. Vanessa spent half of her decade-long relationship cohabiting in a studio apartment: “The transition to the studio was way weirder for J.O.-ing than marriage was.” Why? “Masturbation is a statement of private space.” Seinfeld was wrong: The “master of his domain” is not the man who controls his urges but the one who controls his domain so thoroughly as to indulge any urge he wants inside of it. She who orgasms alone in a space is the one who truly owns it. (For the record, Vanessa’s secret is “three words: working from home.” Her name, and some others, have been changed.)
The “domain,” of course, is often metaphorical, especially among couples who seem to have figured this whole mess out: “Girl, sometimes I do it next to him,” said another married friend, who has been with her husband for 12 years. “Like the morning if he’s dozing. My favorite, purple vibrator. It’s pretty quiet.” If he wakes, he may try to initiate sex, but mostly he just says good morning and carries on. Meanwhile, a friend we’ll call Peter noted that masturbation relieves his boyfriend Ivan’s hangovers but not his. On weekend mornings, “I know he’s doing it when he hands me the dog and shuts the bedroom door.” Peter considers this a practical consideration; if the dog saw a hand moving rapidly, he’d try to play with it. “He always bites and pulls on dangling things,” Peter said of the dog. “Like the drawstring on my pants. I’m worried he’s going to bite one of our dicks someday.”
Finish reading all this at the NY Mag.
Milk and bread are actually pretty terrible survival foods
Alert: It’s snowing, and if you are like many Americans, you’re worried about how much bread and milk you have at home.
Grocery crews from across the Northeast on Monday reported waves of high pressure from panicked shoppers snatching all the bread and milk off their shelves. Zabar’s, a specialty grocer in New York City, quadrupled its bread orders for Monday after selling out the day before, manager Scott Goldshine told CNN. “They all think the world is coming to an end,” he said. “They cleaned us out of everything.”
This mass accumulation of dairy and dough has become an American snowstorm tradition. The only problem: Milk and bread are pretty bad survival foods. That milk will die fast if your refrigerator loses power, and bread can only offer so much nutrition during its short expiration date. So what is it about snow warnings that make us the bread and dairy industries’ biggest fans?
The milk-and-bread buy-up is perennially baffling to weather watchers and emergency preparedness heads. During a Monday press conference, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, “I don’t know why the rush on bread, but what the heck, if you want more bread I’m sure you’re able to get it.”
At this point, the panic has morphed into satire. Comedian Vic Dibitetto’s YouTube video, in which his lack of bread and milk drives him increasingly more hysterical, has garnered more than 12 million views. And of course, there’s a Facebook page, “Quick! Buy up all the Bread & Milk cos it’s snowing.” (The most recent post: “Hope you’ve all been out panic buying! There’s snow about people!”)
The French Toast Alert System, a bread-and-milk-focused weather emergency satire site, was set on Monday to “Severe”: “RUSH to emergency supermarket NOW for multiple gallons of milk, cartons of eggs and loaves of bread. IGNORE cries of little old lady you’ve just trampled in mad rush to get last gallon of milk.”
Read more HERE.