We’re taught to suppress our sex drive until marriage, yet some people don’t marry at an early age, whether by choice or other circumstances. Sexuality is a normal and necessary part of life, though it gets cloaked in secrecy and often shame and guilt. Especially for the single among us. I don’t know that suppressing sexuality to an extreme degree is healthy. “Know your body,” my college teacher at Stern implored us in our niddah class.
Yes, it is explicitly forbidden for men, however for women there is room for interpretation. My faith is important to me, I constantly yearn to reconcile my religion with my sexual desire that is restrained as a single person. I discussed this with an Orthodox rabbi and rebbetzin, who have both explicitly told me that masturbating is not wrong, not against the Torah.
I want to maintain my virginity until I marry- this is a conscious, intentional choice, something I value deeply. But I am also a human being, and I have a natural curiosity about sex. About my connection with my future husband, what it would feel like, how I would feel about it.
I want to explore sexuality and discover, learn, be knowledgeable, understand how to connect. I want to have open conversations with my future spouse on our sex life.
I dim the lights, undress and run my hands over my body, marveling in its power, in its divine ability to everything I need it to do. I face my body image issues head on. I accept imperfections. I turn off the guilt. I just be. I am a sexual person, I am a strong person. I am not any less of a person.