Natalie Lee, founder of the Warrior Women project and co-host of The Everything Project podcast, was crippled with feelings of shame surrounding sex up until her thirties. Now she's advocating why we all need to take control of our clitoris
From a very young age I had associated sex with trauma after a particularly unpleasant event. Anyone who has experienced trauma will understand how it’s possible to become disassociated from your feelings generally, as you learn to shut them down as a way of coping.
Growing up in my household there was this veil of silence surrounding sex, it was hidden, it was painful and the unspoken nature of it only served to help develop it into something I took to be shameful. There are lots of other factors why I and many others associate sex with shame, especially as a female. Women who practise it freely and unapologetically are labelled dirty and used. I also think historically the role of religion and control has been a huge factor.
My early sexual encounters were about playing a role, a role that made me desirable to men, sex was a performance. Mostly re-enacted from the few bits of porn I’d seen. I screamed, I scratched, and I faked many orgasms. I had no idea that sex could or should be about my own gratification as well. I had no idea what a clitoris was.
So for most of life I’ve had mediocre sex. Sex wasn’t terrible, I enjoyed it, especially once I’d found my clitoris but it was very unexploratory. I was too self-conscious to do much other than missionary position.
Masturbation was definitely something shameful, too. I’d humped teddies as a kid, sometimes with my little friends, always, always in secret, away from adults and never, ever talked about. All I knew was it was something I shouldn’t be doing. Even as an adult I continued to think masturbation was disgusting, that if anyone knew what I was doing they’d have a negative opinion of me. It wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I began to understand masturbation was something fun, safe and normal. It allowed me to rediscover my body and increased my confidence in all areas of my life, including sexually.
Female pleasure is taking centre stage right now, and it’s about time. Women are demanding to be seen and heard and our sexual desires deserve to be taken seriously. There are porn sites made by and, overwhelming viewed by women, such as feminist erotic filmmaker Erika Lust. Even big brands are getting involved – Boots and Cult Beauty have a whole section devoted to sexual pleasure and wellbeing.
I want to talk to my daughters about sex as easy as it is to butter a slice of bread. I hope to make it an everyday topic of conversation and impress on them that sex is to be enjoyed by two mutually-consenting adults, it’s not dirty or shameful. That masturbation is extremely pleasurable, it’s completely natural. And I would wholeheartedly encourage them to explore their own bodies before anyone else gets the right to.
Masturbation has multiple proven benefits – increasing our confidence, self-esteem, helping us to sleep, reducing our stress levels and can be highly beneficial in relationships. Self pleasure has certainly increased my confidence with every soaring orgasm I’ve given myself and I will be forever grateful for finding out about the glorious delights of my clitoris.
* Follow Natalie on Instagram @stylemesunday