"I masturbate..."

by Guest

on May 2, 2013

I masturbate…

When you think of masturbation, what image pops into your mind? Do you think of yourself or of a partner or a performer? Shilo McCabe would like to offer you some variety. More diversity in images of who and how we masturbate. Masturbation is a powerful tool for self knowledge and sexual exploration available to all.

If we are to believe the mainstream media only a very small percentage of people get to enjoy sexual pleasure. You should be thin, you should be white, you should be in a heterosexual relationship. Over and over again that is who we see as sexual. We need to disrupt this pattern. Everyone deserves sexual pleasure if they want it. Any body can be a sexy body. Pleasure is literally waiting for us at the tips of our fingers or the length of our favorite sex toy. Let's diversify the media and increase the self-love!

"I masturbate…" is a photography project created by Queer Feminist Photographer, Shilo Mccabe in celebration of National Masturbation Month, consisting of sex-positive photos of people masturbating and sharing personal stories that complete the phrase "I masturbate…"

Guest post by Airial Clark, The Sex Positive Parent

I know for myself as a critical media consumer, I want sexual imagery that matches my ethics. I am not interested in porn that is made in unsafe environments. One thing I love about Shilo's production process is that her shoots are directed by the people who are being photographed. They tell her what they want. She follows their lead.

Shilo explains, "This project came about because, while speaking on a sex-positive panel at Mills College I was asked if I had any tips for becoming more sex-positive. Without hesitation I said "Masturbate!" Everyone laughed and predictably enjoyed my response and I realized only later that I had so much more to say on the subject.

"Challenging the stigma around masturbation is important because we are a culture of mixed messages. There is no unilateral message about masturbation; for some people there is a stigma about it, for others it is culturally accepted as a norm and even expected (as with heteronormative males, for example). This project is a statement about sexual autonomy. Each photo is a safe space, My work is rooted in documentary photography and builds upon the legacy of photographers who use both artistry and social commentary in their work. These are not posed shots of models, but rather - authentic representations that the people in the photos themselves helped to create. I work in collaboration with folks to create images that they will feel good about and I always give final image approval directly to them. As someone who is making sexually themed work, I put a high priority on consent and transparency. I am motivated by the belief that when we do not see images of people who look like ourselves, we will internalize the message that we are not worthy of representation ourselves and therefore I am dedicated the the concept of inclusivity."

We hope people in the SF Bay Area will have a chance to come see the exhibit live and in person. The photos will be up throughout Masturbation May. You can also see the project online (linked below). Share it with your fellow media-savvy, sex-positive, self-pleasuring friends and we can change the world!

The photo exhibit will be on display at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco for the month of May, the opening reception is Friday, May 3rd, 7-10pm, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco.

Find more info on the The Sex Positive Photo Project website.

About Airial Clark

Airial ClarkAirial Clark is a San Francisco Bay Area based parenting expert and sexologist. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in both Anthropology and English Literature at U.C. Berkeley, she was offered admission to the only human sexuality master’s program in the U.S. at San Francisco State University. She completed research for her master’s thesis on race, family structures and alternative sexuality in 2012, all while raising her two sons as a single parent.

She created her website The Sex Positive Parent as an informative resource in response to the demand she has seen over the years for guidance from parents navigating the sex positive realm.

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Written by Guest.

Originally published on May 2, 2013. Updated on Aug 5, 2020