Sign up for our W42ST Daily newsletter. Get a Hell’s Kitchen glow every morning!

By JAMIE VALENTINO

Before the pandemic, I began buying sexy underwear in bulk. The rite of passage for anyone experiencing a bad breakup, I prepared for the mission of meeting sexy, tall, hung guys. If anyone asked, especially my ex’s friends, I’d be sure to specify it was with the intention of casual sex. The tight-fitting, black boxer briefs with side mesh lining, or the sheer, leopard print briefs with an Angelina Jolie ass slit helped weaponize my confidence. I dare anyone to wear a leather jockstrap without feeling seductive.

Me engaging in a thrilling sex life must have acted as the final anomaly that caused the cataclysmic Bermuda Triangle of the universe that is 2020. Soon after I experienced my first post-breakup one-night-stand, COVID-19 started trending on Twitter. Overnight, Governor Cuomo put New York on Pause indefinitely, and the coronavius has wreaked havoc across the nation while blue balling me ever since.

As the crisis calmed in late April, I went hiking in New Jersey with my close friends Ali and Monica, wearing a black face mask and neon red, spandex-like briefs decorated in prints of dildos and sex toys – more groundbreaking than florals for spring. My friends and I share the closeness that breeds raunchy gossip, trading sex stories like Pokémon cards.

“When Monica leaned in to ask if we’d heard about “edging,” I realized all along I’ve been Charlotte wearing Samantha’s lingerie.”

Naturally, I admitted to missing sex and assured them of all the orgasms I was certain to be enjoying in a non-social distancing alternate reality. Ali smirked as if on trial with a secret, and confessed to the purchase of a large, purple vibrator. I immediately clarified that the intercourse I was referring to involved other people, not THOSE types of orgasms. As someone who writes about sex for a living, I surprised myself. What was wrong with those orgasms anyway? When Monica leaned in to ask if we’d heard about “edging,” I realized all along I’ve been Charlotte wearing Samantha’s lingerie.

“If the city government can participate in such a refreshingly honest dialogue with the public about glory holes, isn’t it time we indulge ourselves with the same freedom?”

The New York Health Department has gone as far to confirm: “You are your safest sex partner,” from disease and heartbreak. The “Safer Sex and COVID-19” memo touched on different sex acts, sex workers, sex online, sex in groups, sex with toys, and, my personal favorite, creative ways to engage in safe sex. “Make it a little kinky,” it reads. “Be creative with sexual positions and physical barriers, like walls, that allow sexual contact while preventing close face to face contact.” If the city government can participate in such a refreshingly honest dialogue with the public about glory holes, isn’t it time we indulge ourselves with the same freedom?

Beyond helping control sexual urges and releasing tension, masturbating relieves built-up stress, promotes better sleep, heightens mood, aids women with cramps, and it has an overall positive effect on an adult’s mental health and sex life. .

As a reformed heterosexual, I know men can be as insecure as women, obsessing about length and girth, or whether they can get it up correctly. But what no one seems to tell us is that sex begins within. We’re forced to embark on our own respective journeys on the miles-long, precarious road of sex, pleasure, and the human body. Wouldn’t it be nice to carry direction instead of shame?

“No wonder so many women reach adulthood well versed in heartbreak but lacking the enlightenment of an orgasm.”

In 1994, when US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders recommended including masturbation as a topic in public sexual education, she was heavily criticized and pressured to resign. No wonder so many women reach adulthood well versed in heartbreak but lacking the enlightenment of an orgasm. Generations of lawmakers, most likely men with poor technique, fought to make sure women don’t figure out that they can experience better sex by excluding the man altogether.

For young men, typically the punchline in most gags about masturbation, it’s known that we all do it, but it’s only shameful if we get caught. It’s ingrained early on that it’s something we do to ourselves rather than for ourselves. We’re brainwashed into thinking it’s done out of a lack of control rather than as an act of self-love. So while women are more likely to plan for it – draw baths, light candles, and purchase a drawer of gadgets – men use it like a Xanax to fall asleep. It’s treated like the first rule of Fight Club.

I wanted to understand how sexuality has evolved in America, since the year I was born in 1994, when General Elders was outcast for promoting what many professionals in the field now consider sexual wellness. Over the past five years, TENGA, an adult toy brand, has conducted an annual survey – the TENGA Global Self-Pleasure Report – about attitudes to
sexuality and masturbation around the world. It found that 84% of Americans surveyed in 2020 consider masturbation to be a form of self-care. This is a stark increase from 54% in 2016. Perhaps, the stress of the past four years has literally sent folks masturbating for their lives.

One world health crisis later, Ali’s purple vibrator reignited my curiosity in a gift bag of unopened TENGA toys still in my closet from one of their parties. At the time, it felt like incriminating evidence. I lit a scented candle, wearing my nude latex briefs because they are so uncomfortably sexy – ideal when the plan is to immediately take them off. I connected my laptop to the flat screen, kind of like a Pornhub and chill vibe. When my roommate arrived home, she discovered an enlightened me.

I’m not the first to the party. Almost two in five Americans have increased the frequency of their masturbation during self-isolation, particularly those in relationships but not isolating with a partner. Half of adults have used a sex toy during quarantine, with men more likely to say they purchased one specifically for use during lockdown. Women, LGBTQIA+ and Millennial Americans are at the forefront of sex toy usage.

In my utopian society, when someone tells you to go “f**k yourself,” you appreciatively respond: “Thank you, I will.”

ABOUT JAMIE

After years of listening to his female friends complain about men, Jamie Valentino has acquired a decade-worth of knowledge about what women don’t like in bed. Now he’s ready to bestow that wisdom on straight men everywhere and, hopefully, help women orgasm along the way. His Sexpert column is published biweekly in PROVOKR. He is a quadruplet, and lives in Hell’s Kitchen with his best friend.