Give It Up for Masturbation

Spanking the monkey. Jerkin’ the gherkin. Slapping the salami. There are hundreds of euphemisms for male masturbation, most of them funny, most of them known. While masturbation among men is generally perceived as normal, common, and even necessary, female masturbation is still one of the most taboo of subjects (up there with our periods and our difficulties with orgasm).

Even with our girlfriends we don’t go there. A woman will spill every detail about the mind-blowing sex she had the night before, but the out-of-this-world orgasm she gave herself? Not a word. Though this could also be because she’s not having them: According to a recent study conducted by sociologists at the University of Chicago, only 38 percent of women reported masturbating during the previous 12 months (compared to 61 percent of men).

What gives, ladies? Taboo or not, masturbating is just about the best thing you can do for your sex life, not to mention your overall health and mood. If you’re among the majority of women who haven’t flown solo lately, it’s time to take the plane out for a spin. For those of you who’ve mastered the art of self-love—just as with sex—you can always benefit from trying something new.

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Warming Up to Whiskey

Brooke has been a rum-and-Coke fan for as long as she can remember. Unlike her first adventures scuba diving (at the tender age of 13) or taking a white-knuckled helicopter ride, Brooke’s initial encounter with whiskey was relatively uneventful. A friend casually suggested swapping whiskey for her trademark rum, and the result was a noticed difference in flavor, one with less sweetness, more burn, and not much appeal to her at the time. Realizing whiskey was probably an acquired taste—one she wasn’t quite ready for—that particular bottle was shelved until a later date.

While whiskey has long been thought of as an almost exclusively male-oriented drink (women-oriented: white wine*, Cosmos), women are reaching for tumblers with the dark brown liquid like never before. Over the past several years the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has seen women account for one out of every four new memberships; in previous years, this number had been one in 10. “Whiskey has a male stereotype associated with it, but women want to try it,” Brooke says. “I think women continually break down barriers, and whiskey is just one example.”

Beth, a Manhattan- based VP at BNP Paribas Bank, was clearly used to breaking down barriers. And when she realized that while most of the powerful men she knew enjoyed whiskey, few women seemed to, she wanted to push that boundary as well. “A woman ordering whiskey is like a man ordering an Appletini,” she says. “You just don’t see it very often.” So she decided to give it another chance over drinks with the girls. With drink in hand—in a glass that doesn’t guarantee a spill with every slight move—Beth felt empowered. And, she says, “I like that it forces you to sip and enjoy.” Currently honing her tasting skills, she knows it will take time (similar to when she first started drinking wine) to hit her stride: “I don’t think I’ve found my whiskey yet,” she says, “so I don’t fully appreciate the taste.” In the name of research, her tumbler is definitely getting more use than her other barware.

Finding the perfect whiskey’s all about such trial and error. But at a time when women pride themselves on being confident and sophisticated, it can be intimidating saddling up to a bar when you’re not sure if you’re asking for a scotch, bourbon, whiskey, or whisky. Belle, a public relations exec based in New York City, agrees that she’s “overwhelmed with all the different types of whiskey” and would love to try the spirit again in the company of a knowledgeable and patient bartender. Enter Nadia. A bartender for the past five years at Vintage in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Nadia is familiar with the ins and outs of these dark spirits and can break it down for the average novice. (She even knows when to add the “e” and when not to.)

Whiskey: Spirit distilled from grain (barley, corn, rye or wheat), aged in wooden containers, usually made of white oak. Spelled without an e by the Scots and Canadians and with an e in Ireland and the United States.
Bourbon: American whiskey made from a combination of malt, rye and—by law—at least 51% corn; aged for at least two years in charred oak barrels. Although not a requirement, most bourbon is made in Kentucky and it’s the only state allowed to put its name on the label.
Tennessee Whiskey: Recognized as a separate style by the U.S. government in 1941, it’s very similar to bourbon (51% corn) but must be produced in the state of Tennessee and goes through a unique filtering stage referred to as the Lincoln County Process —it takes approximately 10 days—which filters the liquor through sugar-maple charcoal prior to transferring it to casks for aging.
Rye Whiskey: Required to be made from at least 51% rye and stored in new, charred oak barrels for at least two years. Slightly more powerful and bitter than bourbon.
Canadian Whisky: Made in Canada from mashes composed of corn, rye, wheat, and barley malt.
Scotch Whisky: The formal name of what most call just “scotch.” Made in Scotland from a mix of grains, primarily barley, plus “small grains” (used in limited quantities) including oats.
Irish Whiskey: Similar to scotch but without the smoky quality, as it’s not exposed to smoke during roasting.
Single-malt whiskies: One whisky from a single distillery.
Blended whiskies: A mixture of two or more whiskies from two or more distilleries.

With five years of observation from the other side of the bar, Nadia feels “how you’re perceived when you drink different shit” totally factors into your bar order. She says that women who order whiskey on the rocks or shots of tequila seem to do so to either impress men or gain respect. A fair statement, considering bartenders moonlight as adjunct therapists these days. But, that being said, women typically develop a taste for the spirit as they are exposed to various types. Brooke, for instance, worked specifically on retail marketing and promotions for the Jack Daniel’s Family of Fine Whiskeys and thus found herself dusting off that old bottle of whiskey many years later. Suddenly she was acquiring that taste long-ago forgotten: “Like wine, there are many different kinds and it’s a matter of trial and error,” she says. “Some you like, others you don’t.”

In fact, when Brooke’s friend, Lisa, recently received a bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon as a gift, she called on Brooke’s expertise to lead an informative “Ladies Whiskey Tasting Night” in her current hometown of San Diego. A dozen women showed up, more than willing to check their white wine glasses at the door*, and soaked in everything from the history of whiskey to proper tasting methods. “Some were apprehensive,” Brooke says. “Some recalled ‘bad’ experiences with whiskey, but all were willing to give it another shot.”

Women & Whiskey: A Beginner’s Guide (compliments of Brooke):
Please keep in mind that whiskey, bourbon, and scotch whisky all have high proofs (80+).
• For a first-time whiskey drinker: a blended whiskey on the rocks or blended whiskey plus some sort of mixer (Coke, ginger-ale). The ice numbs the tongue and a mixer makes the taste less potent. Either way, it’s more approachable.
• For a first date: whiskey plus some sort of mixer. C’mon it’s a first date—you’ve got to pace yourself!
• For a night out with the girls: a smooth whiskey, something you can sip on (i.e. Gentleman Jack).
• For happy hour with coworkers: see “First date,” assuming you want to stay in control.

* Editors’ Note: No offense, white wine, we’re still quite smitten with you. It’s just, well, we want to see other spirits.

 

– Jenny Bulgrin


FemiNoshing: Paleta Power

I spent a few of my formative years living in Mexico City. My house was across the street from a bunch of shops, and on the corner was a place that sold sandwiches (also known as tortas) and ice pops and juices (also known as paletas and aguas frescas).

When the summer weather started, my best friend and I would go buy paletas. They had as many flavors as Baskin Robbins, and some were more exotic than others, with chili or tamarind or guava or hibiscus.

My favorite was the strawberry, followed by the lemon. My best friend usually went for the coconut or the chili tamarind.

When I moved to the United States, I missed paletas a lot. Not that the ice pops on sale in supermarkets tasted bad per se — they just didn’t taste as fresh and fruity as the ones I was used to, and were often full of corn syrup and artificial colors. I realize having an ice pop turn your tongue green is part of the fun, but I never got into it.

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FemiNoshing: Eating According to Gender

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to a Polish restaurant in our area. We were there at my friend Al’s recommendation. Al is a restaurant critic and, indeed, his review was proudly framed on the foyer wall.

We were seated and given menus, and I perused mine, noting the usual Eastern European fare. There were borscht and pierogi, various goulashes. Then I found what I wanted — beef Stroganoff, a hearty stew with onions, mushrooms, beef, and sour cream. My husband was in the mood for something less meaty, and decided on the stewed mushrooms with spaetzle.

The waitress came by. Well, actually, she was one of the owners — this was a family-owned joint.

I put in my order. She raised an eyebrow at me.

“That is a man’s dish.”

“Really?”

That was news to me. I don’t often make Stroganoff at home (and when I do, I blaspheme and add a can of chopped tomatoes), but I never saw it as any more male or female than, say, ordinary stew. But the proprietress clearly had her ideas. I feared for a moment that she would not let me have the Stroganoff, being that I don’t have a penis, but she was obviously done with that one comment. When the food came, I ate every bite, and while no one thankfully checked afterward, I was still female through and through.

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FemiNoshing: Appetite Is a Feminist Issue

For Christmas, a friend presented me with a copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris. I had read a few of his essays, particularly ones about his struggles with various compulsions, but I had not read so many about his family.

In “A Shiner Like a Diamond,” he writes about his four sisters—particularly actress Amy (a Sirens crush)—and their somewhat fractious relationship with their father. “My father has always placed a great deal of importance on his daughters’ physical beauty,” Sedaris writes. “It is, to him, their greatest asset, and he monitors their appearance like a pimp … my brother and I were allowed to grow as plump and ugly as we liked. Our bodies were viewed as mere vehicles—pasty, potbellied machines designed to transport our thoughts from one place to another. I might wander freely through the house drinking pancake batter from a plastic bucket, but the moment one of my sisters spilled out of her bikini, my father was right there to mix his metaphors. ‘Jesus, Flossie, what are we running here, a dairy farm? Look at you, you’re the size of a house.’”

Sedaris blames his father’s attitude on his age (old) and ethnic background (Greek). My friend who gave me the book is also Greek, so I asked her if her father had similar views when it came to her eating habits. “Definitely,” she said, remembering how, as a girl, her father would often remark—with disgust—that she ate “like a house on fire.” These remarks confused my friend, not only because houses do not eat anything, whether on fire or otherwise. She was far from overweight, and was heavily involved in sports at the time and needed the fuel. Sports, it must be added, that her father insisted she participate in, even though she never cared for them.

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