Ladies, love yourselves — literally
Raunchy sex stories are met with wide eyes and coy grins from most friend groups, be they male or female. Foolproof techniques or new backbreaking positions are happily discussed, each party eager to share their latest escapades.
One subject on which the female population remains relatively mum is masturbation. Usually met with choruses of “ew I don’t do that,” “that’s gross” and grimaced faces — it is one of the few sexual acts young women often feel uncomfortable discussing, even with their closest friends.
Young men rarely, if ever, experience such reservations when talking about taking their pleasure into their own hands, if you’ll excuse the pun. The differences between the two genders have been enumerated in many Cosmo articles, but no concrete answer has been given as to why this discrepancy exists. It should be underlined that it is not simply because more men do it than women, simply that fewer women are willing to talk about it.
The To Do List, a 2013 coming of age film comedy, addresses this issue in a quick exchange between the protagonist and her two best friends. When asking if the other two ever masturbate they both quickly respond with “what no, that’s gross.” When pressed further, one reveals that she only ever does it if she cannot sleep, which earns her a sideways glance from the others. The film effectively captures the social stigma around female pleasure. If delivered by another partner it is applauded, but if it’s solo, it should not be spoken about.
This stresses the notion that women are not allowed to be, or rather should not be, in control of their own pleasure. That someone should hand it to them, but never seek it out privately. Women’s bodies do not belong to them and exploring them is for other people. That being in control of your own body and pleasure is shameful and discussing it openly should be left to the boys.
The rise in scenes of solo play in pop culture has increased over the past year, and hopefully it will trickle down into conversations too. Considering how much sex and nudity is thrust upon us on a regular basis, we have to realize that female masturbation is simply another mundane sex act. Everybody does it.