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Best of Portland 2009

The original DIY, observed

Celebrating the safest of sex, plus what to do when dates collide
By YOUR SECRET ADMIRER  |  May 27, 2009

masturbation main

This explains a lot: May was National Masturbation Month, first held by the San Francisco-based sex shop Good Vibrations in 1995, and celebrated nationwide. (Some places even hold Masturbate-A-Thons to raise money for local HIV- and AIDS-prevention organizations.) Is that why everyone's been so giddy of late?

To observe this month of jerk-off joy (which was originally conceived in protest against the 1995 firing of former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who had the audacity to suggest that masturbation should be taught in sex-ed classes*), we've collected some esoteric orgasm info that we hope will intellectually enhance your solo sex time.

We all know that masturbation is totally normal and healthy, but did you know that it's so ordinary that we start doing it before we even come out of the womb? True story! In Mary Roach's Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (Norton, 2008), she tells readers about in-utero masturbation, apparently observed in a sonogram image by an Israeli doctor who in 1987 sent a letter to the Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine that was accompanied by pictures of a seven-month-old fetus "grasping his penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movements." Whoa.

Want to beat the masturbation world records? Better start practicing now to outlast the reigning champs. Duration, male: 9 hours and 58 minutes; female: 7 hours and 6 minutes. Number of climaxes, male: 31; female: 20. Whoa again!

According to sexpert Gina Rourke, who owns Nomia at 24 Exchange Street (upstairs), a good choice for sex-toy novices is the Pocket Rocket, the discreet-but-powerful mini-vibrator that's meant primarily for clitoral fun. For men who haven't experienced toy-enhanced self-love, masturbation sleeves such as the Head Honcho Masturbator are worth checking out. And of course, anyone worth her weight in cosmos knows that the Rabbit Habit vibrator, with dual stimulators for G-spot and clitoral enjoyment, is a perennial favorite. (And in case you're still on the fence about battery-operated assistance, here's one endorsement: "I was all hands until my friend bought me a cheaper model of her favorite vibrator," said one 27-year-old female convert.)

*Hopefully said sex-ed courses would be taught by competent instructors who are able to deal with teenage-boy antics. We spoke to one 28-year-old dude, who recalls subjecting his middle-school health teacher to the following exchange:

"How often do you masturbate?"

"I am a married man with a loving family," came the teacher's initial reply.

"So you are telling me you do not masturbate?"

"Every red-blooded male masturbates."

"So you are telling me that even with a family, a wife, a house full of kids, you masturbate?"

"I am telling you that I am a red-blooded male and nothing more. You're smart. Figure it out."

(Let's cut the teacher some slack: his daughter was in the same class as the curious clown.)

An unscientific poll of YSA's female friends (admittedly not the most reserved bunch) indicates that the age-old obligatory shame regarding the fact that women masturbate (gasp!) is fading. Many are more than willing to share — even eager, offering suggestions and recommendations.

Discomfort where we overlap

Even as Portland shows off its most-loveable side in these early-summer days, active daters are griping especially loudly about one of this town's less-endearing characteristics: With everyone out and about and ditching winter doldrums, you can't fucking turn around without seeing someone you've slept with or wanted to sleep with, dated or wanted to date. And of course this is most likely to happen when you're on a date with someone else. (No bitterness here, really.)

One 25-year-old female, whose dance card is impressively full these days, recalls a recent evening at a club, at which not two, but six potential and former flames were in attendance. "I didn't know where to direct my coy glances! It was overwhelming and I had to leave," she says. "We all know why we love living in Portland, but this is one reason I hate it."

In fact, she's so over it that she's heading out of town for a while: "I need to feel like I haven't already made out with every single person in the bar when I walk in."

This isn't to say, of course, that uncomfortable situations don't arise in other cities. Friends in Boston, and even in New York, occasionally share the unfortunate fate of being out on one date when another suitor, or ex-suitor, darkens the door. But in a city this small (population 64,000, fyi), your chances rise exponentially for feeling really awkward, getting your feelings hurt, or making someone else feel very strange.

Consider one local thespian, who recently performed in a show where three ex-lovers were in the audience, on the same night (none in the cast, thank heavens). It made for some difficult post-show decisions — whom to hug first? Should introductions be made? Nightmare of nightmares, what if the three of them got to talking during intermission? ("Luckily none of them knew who any of the others were," she offers as a look-on-the-bright-side caveat.)

Here are actual ways that YSA sources have behaved, when they've found themselves in similar situations. Choose your preferred method of dealing:

Send a smile that says, "Oh, hello, how nice to see you, but please don't come anywhere near where I am sitting;"

Embrace the weirdness and engage in conversation — which is what you're going to have to do if you date within an extended group of friends;

Avoid eye contact at all costs (or pretend not to see him or her);

Cut your losses and hightail it out of there, as per our 25-year-old ingénue;

Stay away from hot spots like the White Heart, Downtown Lounge, Local 188, and Rosie's — but then, really, what fun would summer nights be?

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Contagious and Infectious Diseases, Culture and Lifestyle, Gina Rourke,  More more >
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  •   THE ORIGINAL DIY, OBSERVED  |  May 27, 2009
    Celebrating the safest of sex, plus what to do when dates collide
  •   SAFE SEXT  |  April 30, 2009
    Our anthropological observer of sex trends busies her fingers . . . with the world of raunchy texts. Plus, friends with benefits?
  •   SAFE SEX, DUH  |  April 29, 2009
  •   POLY IN PRACTICE  |  April 02, 2009
    Being open-minded about open relationships
  •   STRAIGHT TO THE SOURCE  |  April 02, 2009
    Polyamorist shares her thoughts

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