Illustration: D’Ara Nazaryan

The Pleasure Principle

10 Things a Sexologist Wants You to Know About Masturbation

Self-pleasure is a revolutionary act

Jolie A. Doggett
Published in
6 min readAug 14, 2020

This article is part of The Pleasure Principle, ZORA’s ultimate guide to solo sex, self-pleasure, and self-love. Take our Sex Survey to share your experiences.

Who says spending time alone has to be boring?

As we all reckon with the very real (and very depressing) possibility of spending more time in quarantine and socially distant isolation, now is as good a time as any to spend some time really getting to know yourself. And what better way to do so than engaging in some solo self-play?

“One of the many benefits of masturbation is an increased sense of self,” says Shamyra Howard, a New Orleans-based licensed clinical social worker, therapist, sexologist, and relationship expert. “[Solo sex] fills us with relaxation, we experience less stress, we’re more motivated, we feel good, we’re more in tune to the things around us, and we’re more likely to seek out other pleasure-inducing activities.”

But this is about more than just spending a couple of feel-good minutes in bed. Intimate alone time should leave you more feeling educated about your body and more empowered about what makes you feel satisfied in and out of the bedroom.

“A lot of people when they hear self-pleasure, they automatically think of masturbation, and that is an all-time favorite form, but if we’re really going to talk about self-pleasure as it relates to Black women, we need to talk about engaging in activities that are satisfying to you. It’s all about giving yourself permission to do things that feel good,” Howard says.

Making your self-satisfaction a priority takes practice, and thankfully, Howard has provided a step-by-step guide of tricks to try and things to remember to make your pleasure a #1 priority.

Take yourself on a date

Before you jump into bed, Howard recommends taking some time to woo yourself and get to know yourself intimately.

“It all begins with a deeper sense of self that comes from exploration. The more we explore ourselves, the more we learn about ourselves. So start with…



Jolie A. Doggett
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