Feminism | Posted by Sarah C on 09/28/2012
Let’s Talk About (Solo) Sex
Masturbation. Up until I was 17 years old, the word alone sent shivers down my spine – and not the fun type. I was petrified of my body and the pleasure I knew it could bring me. I saw touching oneself as a disgusting and deplorable act and thought only the most deviant of people would do it. Well, not actually, only the most deviant WOMEN would do it. Male masturbation seemed like a fact of life to me. I had many guy-friends who talked openly about porn, lotion, dirty socks etc, and I never thought anything of it, but the prospect of women masturbating made me sick.
Despite my aversions to self-pleasure, I still wanted sexual release. I was just as horny as any teenage boy, but I wouldn’t allow myself to explore that part of me at all. I spent many a night thinking about sex with legs clenched tightly together forming an invisible chastity belt. Why was the idea of pleasuring myself so repulsing? I have a two-part theory on that.
1) Female masturbation is much more internal than male masturbation
Female masturbation is an internal act. Whether one is actually inserting something into the vaginal canal or not, there is still a bit of poking around that needs to be done. Unlike the clitoris or g-spots, the penis is an external organ, so when a man is feeling randy he doesn’t have to reach very far to please himself. The invasive nature of female masturbation is frightening at first, but it shouldn’t be wrong. The wrongness comes from the second part of my theory:
2) Until relatively recently, women weren’t even recognized as having the ability to experience sexual pleasure.
In order for a man to procreate, he must orgasm. This is not the case for women. Combine this with the fact that the majority of women can’t even climax from vaginal penetration and it’s no wonder that for centuries men didn’t think women felt pleasure from sex, because they weren’t feeling any with them. With the first feminist movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries came a new understanding of women’s desires, and by the second wave of feminism it was much more accepted for women to seek desire and sexual release. The second wave brought with it a larger understanding of female desire, but more often than not, men are the cause of female sexual release in the media portrayals of such, perpetuating the view that a woman cannot reach her climax by herself, but instead needs a man to help her.
These two issues combined lead to a mass amount of confusion for any pubescent girl. Though the youth are bombarded with sexual imagery, it is often heterosexual, and almost always between two people. There are a few notable exceptions (The Sex in the City “Rabbit” vibrator episode and The Secret Life of The American Teenager “Just Say Me” Episode), but for the most part young women are living in a world of isolation, either feeling like freaks for desiring to touch themselves or actually masturbating and feeling like perverts.
I was one of these teenage girls. I was afraid until one day I got the courage to talk to a friend about it. It was an incredibly awkward discussion, but a liberating one nonetheless. Turns out my friend masturbated but didn’t talk about it because she was terribly scared of being judged. After that I decided maybe I would give it a chance, and eventually I figured out what I was doing and began enjoying it. With my newfound sexual freedom I began to talk to other friends about it, and low and behold, I discovered more and more people that did it! This really shouldn’t be that crazy of a discovery, but for an isolated and sexually frustrated 17 year old girl it was like finding the holy grail. It turned out that almost all my friends masturbated and those who didn’t weren’t doing so because they had the same apprehensions I did. Once we opened up and started to talk about it though, we all started to feel better about ourselves. We realized that there wasn’t actually anything wrong with what we were doing and that it was a natural part of life.
The truth is that almost everyone masturbates, and those who don’t probably would benefit from doing so. There is a lot of hoopla about sex education and abstinence, but no one ever talks about masturbation. If sex education or even abstinence only sex education incorporated masturbation into the curriculum, girls would gain so much confidence by understanding that THEY are in charge of their sexual pleasure, not men, which would also show girls that they don’t need to have sex for approval. Don’t get me wrong, people will still have sex (and should if that’s what they want to do), but it will be because they want to have sex for themselves, not because society is telling them it is the only way they can have pleasure and feel accepted.
There is a fight for control over our bodies in this society, but birth control and abortion aren’t the only things women should be fighting for. In order to have a more liberated society, masturbation needs to be seen as healthy and sexual pleasure needs to be understood as something that each and every person, woman or man, has personal control over.
The Muppets understand this, so why can’t we?
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