A Motion for Masturbation – The Naked Truth by Jane Langton (Transcript)

January 5, 2016 10:30 am | By More

Title: Jane Langton on A Motion for Masturbation – The Naked Truth – TEDx Transcript

Speaker: Jane Langton – Director, The Centre for Sex and Sexuality [Full Bio]

Event: TEDxSFU 2013 in Vancouver, BC


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Jane Langton – Director, The Centre for Sex and Sexuality

I feel like I’ve been dying to tell the story for a very long time. And as I was preparing for this, I wondered how much of my personal story should I, or would I dare to share. You see, for me to convey the impact of silence surrounding sexuality, I knew I needed to tell my own story. The thought of doing it though scares the hack out of me.

And as much as I do share my personal stories, I never imagined sharing something so private in such a public space. But I’m inspired to do it because I see the positive impact I have on those when I do. And this feeds my soul. So here goes.

I masturbate. And I masturbate regularly. I have most of my life. I used to joke around with my friends that my right arm was much stronger than my left. You see, I am very right-handed. I use this arm and this hand.

But about eight months ago, my life became overwhelmingly busy, and I wondered if that was it for me. I thought menopause, stress, exhaustion, because it was taking me far too long and I was too tired to do it. But I eventually listened to my own advice and realized that or acknowledged that all of those things can affect my sexual health and my general health. Unfortunately for now I’m back on track.

That is my reality. I masturbate. Some people do, some don’t. Some will, some won’t. I haven’t grown hair on my hands, haven’t gone blind and at some point had the courage to share my pleasure with another.

You see, I was embarrassed about it for a long time. And I knew it was important. I knew I needed to eventually share my pleasure with another. How else would they know how to pleasure me? But it was such a vulnerable place to be. And as Brené Brown says in her TED Talk, “the path to each other starts with our own vulnerability” and I believe very little is more vulnerable than sharing our own self pleasure with another.

Not having to get it right was difficult for me because all the emotions around sex and intimacy can be perfectly messy, tenderly raw, predictably gut-wrenching and awesomely beautiful. And at the center of it is my willingness to be vulnerable.

A number of years ago, I finally had the opportunity and the courage to share my story with a group of people. We were talking about sexual health. And I had that opportunity and the moment I brought that up, I swear you could have heard a pin-drop in the room and I realized then even more so than ever the huge hurdles I faced in bringing this conversation out into the open. And my English friend Susan says, “More people would be masturbating more often if we didn’t have to deal with that bloody word” and for many that may be true.

The first time I masturbated with someone else in the room, I thought my head would explode. I thought I’d have an aneurysm because it was taking far too long. I was wondering what was wrong with me. You know, it’s taking far too long. Everyone else takes much less time than I do.

And I thought that an intimate relationship started with being with someone else. And I realized it started with getting to know me, my body, what I loved, what I needed, what I desired, what I craved, what fantasies worked for me, all those things, and then having the courage to share it. And eventually though it took my partner bringing their kindness and patience into the exchange for it to happen. And it didn’t happen the first time, or the second time, or even the third. Eventually, though, it did. I know it’s freaking amazing. Afterwards I cried.

When I told a friend of mine that story, she said, “Jane, you have to share it. Can you imagine how valuable that story would be to so many people?”

I said, “Are you freaking crazy?”

I couldn’t imagine ever doing that. But I’m doing it because so many of us struggle with trying to get it right. I still struggle with it all the time. One minute, I know exactly what I want. I know how to communicate it to a partner. I’m as confident as can be. Next minute, I just want to run and hide. The curious thing.

No two people will enjoy pleasure the same way. Everyone is different and exploring is lifelong. We shouldn’t expect our partners to know how to pleasure us and vice versa. And a great question to ask, as Dan Savage says, is what are you into? In other words, what turns you on? And have the courage to say what turns you on especially if someone asks. I do get, it’s not always as easy as we’d like it to be.

Dr. Richard Wassersug, a professor of evolutionary biology states, “Having sex is natural, talking about it isn’t”. It’s an evolutionary problem. From an evolutionary standpoint, we learned to have sex before we learned to talk. And I got that if I could talk about masturbation, I could talk about so many other things relating to my sexual health and my overall health as well, because this pleasure was good for me. It made me happy, gave me energy, helped me focus, craved my sinuses when I had a cold, gave me some stress relief when I was overwhelmed – it did really — and also comforted me when I was in pain. How could it not be good for me? But remember this is my experience. Everyone is different.

And again why masturbation? Well, as Dr. Betty Dodson says, a pioneer in this field, “masturbation is the foundation for all human sexuality” and I believe it opens up the conversation to so many important other topics relating to our health.

People used to say years ago that I brought up the topic of masturbation to shock them. I’m sure I did way back then. But my wish truly is to inspire awesomely beautiful and healthy conversations with ourselves, our partners, our loved ones, our health care providers, and those we care for, about our sexual health, about intimacy, connection, touch, companionship, pleasure, whatever that is for you. Can you imagine the ripple effect those conversations will have on all aspects of our lives?

Now, men have the luxury and the burden of having their genitals right in front of them for them and the world to view. Few women have seen relishing their own genitals never mind another females except in pornography, but that’s a whole other topic. In fact, we seem to have mistaken our vulva for our vagina. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s no one’s fault in particular but for those who want to have an incredible conversation.

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