Lovin’ My Own Self
How Victoria Monet’s Song “Ten New Friends” Unapologetically Turns Up the Volume on Female Masturbation
The pulsating, synth beat fades in and out, airy moans filling the dimly-lit bedroom. The musician half of my brain registers this pop music technique as “sex breath,” while the other half of my brain guides my hand over my stomach. The beat drops suddenly, the light yet strong mezzo-soprano on my phone’s speaker punctuating every line:
An involuntary giggle escapes my lips as a feminist, pop-princess fantasy ignites my imagination: me, onstage in a black leotard with my over-the-knee black suede boots, post-break up anger charging the mic, no doubt reaching my ex’s ears as she stands cross-armed in the audience. I don’t spend too much time on her- this is, after all, my feel-good moment. Beyond the inner-concert walls, my actions and the song are scarily, yet invigoratingly, in sync:
“Ten New Friends” is the seventh track on singer, songwriter, and dancer Victoria Monet’s first album, Life After Love: Part 1, which released on February 23rd of this year. The album chronicles Monet’s previous relationship, starting from the beginning, where she explains that the love between she and her former lover felt “like birth,” before then taking the listener through all the post-break-up emotions: anger, sadness, regret, and self-reflection and realization. But perhaps the most unique and liberating part of Monet’s post-break-up journey is the discovery of self-pleasure and the agency that comes with it. Women’s pleasure, especially female masturbation, still remains taboo, even in our current sex-positive society. It would seem like a casual topic of conversation when just hanging out with your closest friends, and even with women who you don’t know that well, because we all do it and it’s perfectly healthy, but even women get nervous talking about self-pleasure with other women. Everyone has a different level of comfortability with discussing sex, but why should something that gives a woman agency and has the power to make her feel good (in more ways than one) remain so censored? Women deserve to revel in their erotic wokeness, to freely exclaim over mimosas at Sunday brunch that they had their first mind-blowing orgasm, and be completely okay with it.
Michelle Shnaidman is the CEO of Bellesa.co, which began as a porn site featuring erotic stories and videos for women who are tired of watching themselves be objectified on the daily in mainstream porn, recently expanded to include a portion entitled the Collective, whose content ranges from the sexual to the political to the funny, and everything in-between. Shnaidman is an advocate for women’s self-confidence, both in and out of the bedroom, and strongly feels that masturbation is really the key to women’s empowerment:
Here’s the hard truth: though my erotic creature is plenty woke today and I could talk about everything sex-related for hours, I didn’t discover the joys of masturbation until college. Loving myself both in the literal sense and the emotional sense has always been hard for me. As someone who is in recovery for EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), it’s difficult to navigate sex as an act of self-exploration and kindness, and to not think of it as a trophy for a partner. I vividly remember my first time, how it was new and exciting in its awkwardness, up until it wasn’t, when my then-girlfriend stopped what she was doing and said, “Your ass is really jiggly.” That one comment changed my view of sex entirely: I no longer felt sexy, I felt ashamed. Why would a toned, fit, college athlete want to have sex with someone recovering from an eating disorder, this body trying on a new home?
It took me years to get over that particular experience and to really surrender to recovery and become vigilant about self-care. As a singer and a lover of music, music has always been more than what some may call “noise,” it’s been medicine. Songs about sex helped me be bold in embracing my inherent sexuality and gave me a huge confidence boost: hello dating apps, casual hookups, and the rise of a woman who is unapologetic in voicing and doing what and who she pleases (including herself). Of course, when it comes to songs about masturbation, the music industry and its consumers are no strangers: take my newly discovered favorite, “Fingers,” by the poppin’ rock-goddess herself, P!nk, off her 2006 album I’m Not Dead. Also, behold the ingenious “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld which makes me feel like I can conquer the world every time I listen to it. But Victoria Monet’s “Ten New Friends” is a self-pleasure standout from the rest in that it not only unapologetically sheds light on the elephant in the room, but does so in a way that isn’t masked by commonly used pop lyrics about the act of sex with a lover: it’s in your face. I mean, you can’t get more masturbatory than a lyric like “Middle finger in the air, I can oh myself.”
The song’s very title, “Ten New Friends,” is nothing short of a stroke of creative genius. Yes, it refers to both hands, literally speaking, but it also invites the listener to think of self-pleasure as something empowering. Why wouldn’t you treat your body with the same love and respect as you treat a friend? Referring to both hands as “friends” gives a fresh, much-needed outlook on female masturbation, one that acknowledges a woman’s agency over her own body, and more importantly, a healthy bond with her body. Female masturbation is about more than just getting off (Shocker: the female orgasm isn’t a myth after all!), it’s about loving every part of yourself and owning that self-confidence.
Stream Victoria’s song, “Ten New Friends” below and be sure to grab it on Apple Music.