Female masturbation is not only liberating, but also completely normal

by Catherine Van Weele, Contributor

According to many people, female masturbation is a dirty and shameful act — something women are not to do.  And yet a 2018 report conducted by TENGA, a sexual wellness company, shows that over three-fourths of women in the United States have masturbated at least once in their lifetime.

Female masturbation remains a taboo topic in America, even within friend groups women are hesitant to share their masturbation habits with one another.  

There is a fear of being judged for doing something that is viewed as gross and deviant.

Girls are conditioned to believe their vaginas are something dirty and that they certainly shouldn’t touch them for sexual pleasure.  Perhaps this derives from the male desire to control female sexuality and the perception that female sexuality is only to be used in service to others.  The idea that a woman does not need a man to feel sexual pleasure feels threatening, as if female sexual independence will dismantle the backbone of masculinity.

This is all quite ironic when we consider the fact that men are encouraged and praised for bragging about their own habits. They are encouraged to, as they say, “clean out the pipes.”

Jokes and references related to male masturbation are so widespread in the media and society.  Men are able to discuss their masturbation habits rather freely. Meanwhile, female masturbation is left virtually undiscussed.

Unfortunately, masturbation is not included in sex-education curriculum.  Young girls and boys should both be taught from a sex-positive approach that masturbation is a safe and healthy activity.  Girls may begin exploring their bodies from a very early age, even as young as four years of age. Masturbation is a normal part of sexual development. Usually, girls at this age comprehend that touching their genitals feels good but do not yet associate it as a sexual behavior.  By educating children about the truths of masturbation, it will help to refute the myths surrounding it. Some people may feel guilty or ashamed for masturbating because of myths that suggest that masturbatingl leads to blindness, infertility or desensitizes sex with another person.

Contrary to these false persisting myths, masturbation has many positive effects.  By exploring the body, women are able to familiarize themselves with their anatomy.  Through masturbation, women can discover what feels good and pleasurable for themselves which will greatly improve sex life with their partner.  They are able to better communicate to their partner what they want in bed. Aside from sexual gratification, masturbation has several other benefits.  Masturbation can help relieve stress, boost mood and improve sleep. Although not scientifically proven, many women claim masturbation also helps to ease menstrual cramps.

The end goal of masturbation does not have to be reaching an orgasm, but rather a focus on exploring the body and what feels good.  Masturbation is about creating self-pleasure. The more one masturbates and finds what techniques and practices are best, the better the experience will be.  Women can create the mood for the atmosphere with scented candles and playing music. Reading or viewing erotic writings and visuals may help women get sexually stimulated. Varying up the position to lie down in, the applying different amount of pressure and incorporating sex toys such as vibrators are all factors women can play around with while masturbating.

Through conversation, these sort of discussions can become normalized.  Luckily, female masturbation is gradually being implemented into mainstream media.  There is a plethora of scenes in movies and television depicting female masturbation in shows such as “Orange Is the New Black.” “Girls” and “Broad City.” A number of different songs have been made about women self-pleasuring including, “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj featuring Beyoncé and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself.”

Despite the emergence of female masturbation in the media, it remains stigmatized.  It still is correlated with being indecent and nasty. Masturbation is something that should be valued and embraced.  The act of self-pleasuring fuels women with a sense of empowerment and appreciation for the self. The more society feels comfortable with the idea and discussing female masturbation, negative associations will erode away resulting in a positive outlook toward giving oneself sexual pleasure.  Women should feel liberated to express their sexuality with themselves.