“She does WHAT to herself?!” It’s Time to Break the Taboo Around Female Masturbation

Attending a mixed comprehensive secondary school, I vividly remember overhearing the boys’ locker room talking about masturbation- it was a common and accepted thing. However, what I also remember were the rumours that went around about any girl even daring to do the same thing to herself, branding her as a ‘slut’ or a ‘weirdo’.

The power of these rumours was so strong that female masturbation was simply not discussed amongst any girls I knew at school. Sure, there’s the potential that no one was doing it, but what seems more likely to me, is that everyone was too scared to be tarnished by names or rumours, so no one spoke up. Well I think it’s about time that changed.

I’m not writing this article because I think everyone in the world should masturbate, if that’s not your thing then cool. You do you. What I am hoping to do by writing this article is start some conversations about this topic shrouded in shame and mystery. I think it’s especially important to do this around International Women’s Day because this is a day to celebrate and empower women, and what could do that more by saying it’s okay to make yourself feel good.

There have been a plethora of scientific studies outlining the health benefits of masturbating, such as its ability to: reduce stress, enhance sleep quality, boost concentration and improve sex lives. Yet, these benefits are often only associated with male masturbation, so I’m asking, what about the women?

I know that I have no experience of being a teenage boy, so I’m aware that I’m treating men and masturbation with a very broad scope. I can only base this article on my experience, which was boys encouraging each other to masturbate, joking around about it and sharing stories about it (some of which I wish I hadn’t heard). This may not be the case for every boy growing up though, and I am aware that masturbation as a topic in general can seem like a taboo, not just for girls. However, I do think that girls bear the brunt of flouting this social etiquette.

I know that the British public cringes at the idea of even talking to a stranger on the tube, but talking about masturbation with your loved ones could be the best thing you do.

According to a recent global survey, 96% of British men masturbate, compared to 78% of British women. I must admit, this surprised me because even though the female statistic is lower than the male, I was expecting it to be much lower in general. Although, it’s important to remember that these were the results from an anonymous survey. The same study found that only 15% of people in the United Kingdom felt it was important to talk about masturbation with people they are close with. Ah, that’s more like it- there’s the British stiff upper lip. So even though a lot of people do it, these same people still don’t feel comfortable talking about it to their nearest and dearest. I hate to tell you everyone, but this is a problem of our own doing. I know that the British public cringes at the idea of even talking to a stranger on the tube, but talking about masturbation with your loved ones could be the best thing you do. These are the people who love you and know you best in the world, so they certainly aren’t going to judge you.

A 2017 study found that almost 3% of the women had never had an orgasm.

I think that girls find it particularly hard to talk about masturbating because every woman and every woman’s sexual preferences is so different. This is also the case with men, but the act of male masturbation is a lot more straightforward than for women. If we all talked about it amongst our female friends, we might learn that actually, we’re not so different. Or, we may realise that everyone has different preferences and that is okay- as long as everyone feels comfortable with what they’re doing. A 2017 study found that almost 3% of the women had never had an orgasm. This may not sound like a high number, but it’s something I believe should be down to 0% and I really do believe that this could happen if there was not such a social stigma around female masturbation.

Talking can be liberating and International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to liberate ourselves! So pour a glass of wine, have a giggle with your friends at the Anne Summers website, but mainly, feel that it is okay to talk about this topic. You’re not a weirdo, you’re not a slut; you’re a woman expressing a healthy sexuality and that is a very powerful thing.

Emily Casey

Featured image courtesy of David Nguyen via Flickr. No changes made to this image. Image license found here

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