My History of Masturbation in Five Acts

by Leigh Anne Jasheway
Leigh Anne Jasheway

Recently, while contemplating my history of masturbation, I realized it would make a great 5-act play.

Act 1: Pre-Teen and Pre-Masturbation

I don’t remember masturbating when I was young. I did spend a lot of time alone in my closet, but I was usually reading Edgar Alan Poe or Sylvia Plath and those two just didn’t do it for me, erotically speaking. They still don’t.

I grew up Mormon Southern Baptist Reincarnationist (my family dabbled in religions), and I probably learned somewhere along the way that if I touched myself, I’d go to hell or at least have to come back to life as a slug. The latter wouldn’t be that bad because they have both male and female parts and probably have fun with themselves all day long. If you want to read more about slug sex, and who doesn’t?, here you go: 

Act 2: All My Brothers Are Doing It

I spent my teen years in a house with four brothers (one full, one half, two steps – including one I dated prior to our parents hooking up*), a sister and a step-sister. The house was a male masturbatory paradise. Under my brothers’ beds, one could find Playboy and Penthouse magazines, a Sears catalog dog-eared to the lingerie section (it was the 70s and Sears was the Victoria’s Secret of the time), and, oddly, a copy of Little Women.

One night I came home to find my 12-year-old stepbrother (not the one I dated), doing it on MY bed as he stared at the Miss September centerfold. When I complained to my dad, he told me that this behavior was normal for boys his age. Note: My dad did not address making my bed off-limits to my brothers while they spanked the monkey, nor did he mention that self-pleasuring might also be something that I might want to pursue to take the edge off.

Act 3: But I’m Still Not Convinced

It was during this time that Cosmopolitan featured a naked Bert Reynolds as a centerfold. For those of you who are much younger than I and grew up with ready access to naked male bodies online, or parts of them showing up unannounced on your cell phones, this was big news. Most of us teenage girls had never seen a naked man. I took a peek while at a girlfriend’s house and what I saw did not turn me on.

See for yourself:

Here was a human body almost entirely covered with hair, smoking a cigarette and lying on a bear skin rug. I was so sad for the bear that I barely noticed Bert at first glance. When I did, I seriously wondered whether I might be a lesbian because Sasquatch did NOT do it for me.

*For my 50th birthday, my older stepbrother sent me a card inscribed with, “Happy 50th birthday to my first girlfriend from your first boyfriend. Love your brother, Curtis.” That was so wrong! He was not my first boyfriend!


Act 4: Hey, That Feels Good!

I was 17 before I let a guy touch me “down there.” I was a big ol’ nerd – math team, debate club, thespian groups. Boys understood that I knew the difference between 3” and 6”, was willing to argue about accurate length, and though I could fake it believably, I probably wouldn’t unless there was an audience. Two of those things are still true.

Once I discovered how good touching myself felt, I made masturbation not a regular habit, but a treat. If I’d had a hard day or aced a calculus test, I’d grab my pillow and have my way with myself. By the way, whoever invented the “body pillow” does know what we’re using it for, right?

My second husband told me as we were in the process of getting a divorce that even on the days we had sex twice, he masturbated an average of 7 times! And to think, I thought he spent all that time in the shower because he had OCD. I began to increase my rate of masturbation just to be competitive. I was 43.


Act 5: Bring on the Vibrators

Fingers, pillows, and a DVD of Dirty Dancing were my go-tos for decades. Then I met my third ex-husband who introduced me to the world of vibrators. I’m not saying that I hadn’t already figured out that riding the washing machine or sitting over the wheel on a prop plane were delightful, but purchasing a device specifically for a masturbatory purpose wasn’t something that had really occurred to me. I would have had to go into an “Adult Store” with its flashing neon lights, dressed in a trench coat and wig so that I could peruse the merchandise. The thought gave me hives. I hadn’t yet discovered the delights of online companies selling dildos and vibrators and anal beads, oh my!

I should have known that for millennia, women have relied on things that go buzz to help them go “Ahhh. Oooh. Yes, yes, yes!” In fact, the story is told that Cleopatra used a gourd filled with bees and perhaps even a snake as vibrators! I suddenly have a newfound respect for rattlesnakes.

I am 62 years-old now and have been single for 10 years. I own a drawer full of vibrators that will embarrass whoever comes to divvy up my stuff after I’m gone. If I had anything to say to my younger self about masturbation, it’s this, “Two vibrators are better than one.” Oh, and “For heaven’s sake, don’t wait so long. It’s your body and there are a lot of people out there making you feel bad about it. The ability to orgasm by yourself is the best revenge.”


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