How I became a masturbation evangelist

It was the summer after freshman year. I had recently broken up with my high school boyfriend. Perhaps that was why the wild hair. Maybe it was all the “Sex and the City” I had been watching. It was around this time that I learned staggering statistics on how many women never have an orgasm, that might have been the push. Though it is very like me to wake up one day with an idea I can’t shake which quickly becomes my mission. Whatever the reason, I suddenly decided that the fact that I didn’t have a sexual relationship with myself was unacceptable.

I marched into the local sex shop on a mission. I was going to procure a vibrator and figure this out. The shop was owned by two red headed twin brothers. Honestly, not “uncreepy,” though when I try to think of the “ideal” dude to discuss my first vibrator with nothing comes to mind. I was the only person in the store and the present owner had me pegged from a mile away. “First time?”

Knowing myself at the time, I’m sure I feigned confidence and just beneath the surface was trembling and sprinting for the door. I smiled and walked toward the giant wall of vibrators. Sex shop dude turned out to be amazing at his job. He kindly walked me through the entire selection. He explained the differences in the products, what kind of reviews he had heard. He showed me the section that were more aggressive, the preferences of many women “in the (porn) industry,” and steered me toward the more “beginner” models.

What I thought was going to be a horribly embarrassing and possibly creepy interaction was educational, respectful and so very helpful. The shop no longer exists and I’m still sad about it.

I took my new water-proof “beginner” model home and in short, took the best shower of my life. Being me, I had to tell everyone. As a general rule, if I find something I’m into, I’m telling all my friends. Perfect lipgloss? Jeans that are comfortable and fit a serious caboose? Earrings made by a local gal with a cool story? I’ve got all the recommendations. This was one that I just couldn’t NOT talk about. It was down right liberating.

My first recruit was my best friend. We went back to the shop and saw the dude. She made her selection and we went back to her apartment. We each took a room, closed the door and decided to meet in the living room in 20 minutes or so and go to dinner. I still laugh at the hilarious mix of awkwardness and “go for it” spirit of this endeavor.

Walking out of her apartment together was the first time I remember the feeling of empowerment. It was like a glorious movie montage moment when the women figure out they’re okay without the guy or whatever. I remember looking at a group of dudes in her apartment parking lot and thinking, “I don’t need you.” Not the same as “screw you,” but simply, “I can handle myself, thank you.” We went to dinner and compared notes. Proud of ourselves.

This went on to be a somewhat regular thing. Late night conversations with girlfriend’s girlfriends nearly always evolved into talking about the sex shop dude, the silly “solo date” with my friend. And I became the person who encouraged women in troves to explore their sexual relationships with themselves. I lived in a sorority at the time, and my friends were always teasing me about “what I was up to” when they walked into the giant bathroom and smelled my old spice body wash. It was fun, it was sexy, and it was empowering.

It was the first sexual relationship I’d ever had that felt entirely safe. Which makes sense. My history includes trauma, but also a variety of exciting, loving, just completely awkward and even downright bad sexual experiences. So many of which I can see looking back had nothing to do with my own pleasure at all. Not for me anyway.  And of course having sex with another person is a completely different experience in every way. But this was a way I could enjoy my body and myself that wasn’t complicated at all. Deliciously simply, actually.

Since I live in my hometown, I still run into women I don’t recognize who stop me to thank me for encouraging her to purchase her first vibrator. I rarely recognize them and always love these interactions.

Life has changed a lot since then. I got married. I had a baby and didn’t sleep like a human for about 3 years. I worked a million jobs at once. At some point I sort of forgot to include this variety of “self love” into my life. Until the last year or so. A combination of stress, injury and circumstances that took my usual fitness routine down a notch had me exploring other things.

It’s not news that I’m the self-proclaimed “princess and the pea” with my self-care. I know how to pony up and gsd regardless of what’s going on. But on a day to day basis, barring a situationally pressing circumstance, I take excellent care of myself. First. I wake up every day and check in with my body and spirit. How am I feeling? What do I need? And I have developed over time all kinds of “recipes” for different variables.

When I’m sad I like to clean my house and revel in the “everything in it’s place-ness” which often lends itself to clear headspace as well. When I’m angry I like battle ropes, deadlifts and/or sprints. To sweat profusely and catch my breath when I’ve gotten it out. When I just want to have a glorious day, I love to lift, then put on a twirly skirt and bright lipgloss and brunch with a friend. Some of my self-care though feels so ritualistic, so down to a science that I feel like I’ve discovered the “ultimate” in something.

And recently I have found myself evangelizing amongst my friends again.

Today I am sharing with you my favorite self-care ritual. It feels like the “ultimate” cleanse and it takes very little time at all. I call it the “trifecta,” which is now just a “normal” part of the vocabulary between my girlfriends. I feel like I’m giving away a trade secret or something, but it really is that good.


Bath. Orgasm. Meditate.

I pour myself a “fancy” bath which usually includes epsom salts and some kind of essential oil blend. I put my “breathe” app on the meditation of choice for the day ready to go. And as soon as I’m done with step two I press play. It’s the perfect mix of transcendental, physical release, total relaxation and who doesn’t love a bath? I walk away from the trifecta feeling clean in every way. Like I’ve lifted all the weight off my shoulders and sunk it into the water to wash away.

While I no longer even own a vibrator, I am often thankful for sex shop dude making me so comfortable. For not making my exploration about his voyeurism or facilitating my embarrassment. Where ever you are, that guy, Cheers.

Erin Brown