Recently, I moved into a flatshare. Given that I’d been living with my family for an inordinate amount of time beforehand, I had certain expectations for this shift. But as I sit here alone with a hot water bottle between my legs, evidently those expectations have not been met. I have an excuse, though: coronavirus.
Unless you’re especially intrepid (or just irresponsible), the pandemic has been a largely sexless affair for single people. Poor them – poor me! And as research from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that “anxiety and depression scores were significantly lower in subjects sexually active during lockdown,” I’m not being melodramatic. There is a way to circumvent a dearth of sexual activity with others, however: sexual activity with yourself. And, fortunately, I do know how to masturbate.
I love mastubating. Partly because it distracts me when I’m forlorn and partly because I have nothing better to do. After years upon years of it, though, sex with myself can be uninspiring. If my body were a company, masturbation puts me in charge of its away day – preferable to being in the office, but not something the staff are particularly enthused about. Alas, I’m all I have. So what could a sexual wellness app like Kama do for me?
Fifteen years in the making, Kama’s founder Chloe Macintosh describes it as a “science-backed, educational platform that trains our bodies for pleasure.” Now, this is all very admirable, but I don’t need to ‘train’ my body for pleasure – I masturbate with abandon already. Still, sexuality intrigues me. And, according to Chloe, “being single is a particularly great time to start the practice.” So I do.
Today seems like the optimum time to download Kama because I have shaved my legs. Swiftly, I realise that it will bear little resemblance to switching to incognito mode and closing the door. I’m not sure what I’d expected – to be feverishly masturbating within seconds? Instead, this requires attentiveness. Because I am a diligent sort of person who patrols the house turning all the lights off before bed and spends Friday nights pairing odd ankle socks, I start at the beginning.
I am not really concentrating until the words “deep and more meaningful orgasms” make my ears prick. This is after Chloe has mentioned something about “lasting longer during sex” that I assume isn’t intended for me. Anyway, I’m excited. But then a notification from my friend pops up reminding me that I owe her 99p. It kills the mood.
I know that yesterday I purported to be ‘a diligent sort of person’, but now I am just antsy to access Kama’s juicy bits and endeavour to scroll until something truly piques my interest. Beneath ‘An Introduction to Kama’ are a selection of ‘Short Talks’: ‘Myth of the tight vagina’ and ‘Myth of the hard penis’. Do I care about either? Maybe not, but upon noticing that ‘Myth of the hard penis’ is only three minutes long, I let Aaron tell me things about penises.
Apparently, 60% of people with penises avoid sex due to perfomance anxiety. What a useful statistic to comfort my friends with when they are temporarily forsaken by people with penises! Then, Aaron talks about the various stages of penile erection. I consider which stage is my personal favourite (probably the engorgement-hardening cusp), before he explains that a consistently hard penis is not in fact the key to pleasure for both parties. It’s fascinating stuff, but I guess many of us already know from experience that people with penises don’t really serve anyone by adamantly using their member as though it were a rolling pin tasked with turning digestive biscuits into crumbs.
“A vagina is meant to move, breathe, wrap, and engulf,” Saida says as though she’s reading from a Gothic novel, “not just be stationary, constricted and unresponsive.” I’m listening to ‘Myth of the tight vagina’ because I don’t want to leave vaginas out of my newfound sexual education. As with penises, I learn a lot of “well, actually” facts to bother people with at future social gatherings.
As enlightening as they have been, I simply cannot tolerate any more lectures at this stage. I want orgasms. And so I head to ‘Masturbation Meditations’ and select the ‘Guided edging masturbation’ video. Given that a video is a visual piece of media, yet I am – presumably – supposed to be relaxed for this practice, I don’t know whether to watch the video or merely listen to it. I settle on an uncomfortable mix of both. Because all breathwork ever seems to do is highlight my perennially blocked nose, I lose focus. And I definitely don’t come.
Although I have no idea what ‘vagina sipping’ is, I decide to do a ‘Vagina sipping practice’. In it, we are instructed to “ask permission of the vulva to do the sipping practice” by Saida. “If you get a ‘no’, you can simply rest in this position and listen to the practice. If you get a ‘maybe’, you can continue to rest until you get a clear ‘no’ or ‘yes’. And, if you get a ‘yes’, then gently warm your hands, bring one hand back to your heart and, with your other hand, start to apply lube or coconut oil to the outer lips, the inner lips and especially to the vaginal opening.”
I’m confused. Do people have magical vulvas that talk to them? Why did I get lumbered with a mute? Maybe I just can’t speak vulva. Soon, the breaths I’m being told to do become yawns. I fall asleep.
So Kama has yet to make me come, but maybe that’s not the point. And I can do that myself without instruction or encouragement anyway. What it has done, however, is offer a fresh perspective on things that I hadn’t really questioned before with regards to sexuality. And lots of facts about penises and vaginas.