Let’s Talk About Female Masturbation
Finger painting. Stroking the kitty. Buttering your muffin. Ménage à moi.
Whatever you call it, it’s time to talk about female masturbation. The majority of women are going at it with themselves on a regular basis, with 78% polishing the pearl at least once a week and only 14% never venturing down below.* But for some reason, female pink ticklers are still less likely than their male pickle painting counterparts to discuss these journeys of self-exploration with their peers.
So where does this gendered prudishness to self-pleasure come *ahem* from? Perhaps, like all good neuroses, it has its origins in the school playground. I remember the boys in my school discussing wanking openly, even getting together for a group session or having a quick bash under the desk (different times, hopefully). The girls, on the other wandering hand, most certainly did not discuss masturbation, thank you very much.
It was such a closed topic that I had literally no idea any other girls had discovered wanking until my late teens when a friend drunkenly broke ranks to tell me she masturbated thinking about Ryan AND Seth from The OC (again, different times).
Why did the boys possess what seemed to be an innate, god-given right to knuckle shuffling that their female peers hadn’t been gifted with? It’s probable the roots of this inequality lie in patriarchal religions and societies that restricted female sexuality – even self-pleasure – to guarantee paternity of children (and generally subjugate women, as bloody per). But this doesn’t explain why we haven’t tossed it out along with stoning blasphemers to death. There are plenty of things I thought were solid truths in school that I’ve managed to shed since, like blue mascara, ironing my hair or snogging boys who weren’t worth my time. So why aren’t we also over our reticence about discussing how we paddle the pink canoe?
As society progresses, we normalise previously taboo topics by introducing them into mainstream media. Homosexuality, trans issues and interracial couples have all, thankfully, been introduced into the mainstream by popular TV shows.
Twenty years ago, Sex and the City created a buzz (sorry) around vibrators with a storyline on Charlotte’s journey of self-discovery. Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria further normalised vibrators and taking matters of the orgasm into one’s own hands when she revealed she bought rabbits for all her female friends’ birthdays.
It seemed like the start of a new time, of female masturbation becoming a norm to discuss openly. But somehow the message of female self-liberation got lost as vibrators largely became a displacement, a titillating exterior object that distracted from a deeper discussion on female pleasure, independence and self-discovery.
And yet, it feels like the tide is turning as another wave of sex positivity sweeps mainstream media. An increasing emphasis on feminism and the returning cool of being woke is epitomised in an episode of the excellent Netflix drama ‘Sex Education’. When Aimee is asked by her boyfriend what turns her on, she has no answer. Teen-virgin-cum-sex-shrink Otis asks if Aimee masturbates, which she finds repulsive – why would she masturbate when she has a boyfriend? And yet when she does try it out, the viewer is treated to possibly the most glorious masturbation montage of all time (and yes, I do have a leaderboard). Aimee explores herself in different positions, with different techniques until she pleases herself so fully that she’s floating on a cloud of orgasmic bliss for days. As well as discovering the joys of gilding the lily, she is able to communicate to her sexual partner exactly what it is that does it for her. Winner winner, wanking dinner. Spelling out the benefits of masturbation so obviously should make for a clichéd scene, spelling out the benefits of masturbation. But it’s not because unfortunately, we haven’t seen it much before.
The benefits of wanking are manifold. You learn about your body, about your sexual likes and dislikes, it helps you problem solve and it’s as effective for de-stressing as meditation – with added orgasms. Let’s hope that the increased connectivity we have through social media combines with this cresting new wave of feminism and sex positivity to champion open conversations about female masturbation. Because no one should feel bad about buttering their own muffin.
This article was written by Jenny Novitzky, especially for G’s Spot
Jenny is a writer, performer and accidental restaurateur. She has been shortlisted for the Penguin Write Now scheme and is currently writing a play for the Vaults New Writers programme.
www.jennynovitzky.com / @jinkynovs
Illustration by Bronwen Bender
www.bronwenbender.com / @brownen.bender