OPINION | Masturbation is for girls, too

Laura Malagrino, Associate Arcade Editor

Sex is normal, and it is human, yet many women remained trapped in the idea that their sexuality doesn’t fall into either of those categories. (Maggie Pasterz)

When a friend of mine had first confided in me that she masturbated, it felt as though a wall had come down. I was no longer the only one, nor was I the first. For years, I had repressed that aspect of my life out of the fear that I was alone and that it was unnatural and unladylike for a girl to participate in such things. 

Whether it be through social media, television or discussions among friends, I was surrounded with the notion that masturbation was only for boys. The usual caricature of a teenage boy is horny, obsessed with porn and always sexualizes the unnecessary. 

While this image is harmful, there is no equivalent for teenage girls, despite the reality that teenage girls can be equally, if not more horny. Because of this lack of representation, I was led to believe that masturbation was not for girls — an idea which, looking back on, is just plain wrong.

This is not to say that the narrative should change to include girls in this primal, grotesque depiction of masturbation and sexual desire but to recognize that not everyone who masturbates is a sexual deviant.

Masturbation is a natural and healthy part of life, and barring girls from being able to discuss it as openly and freely as men have for decades is, in a sense, a form of oppression. 

Sex is normal, and it is human, yet many women remained trapped in the idea that their sexuality doesn’t fall into either of those categories. Such a stigma around female masturbation creates a deep disconnect between women and their bodies which only functions to further patriarchal ideals about female sexuality.

In our society, a woman is typically expected to be pure and innocent, and for me, masturbation was far from that. I would always see masturbation depicted in a vulgar manner and consequently felt ashamed each time I did it or even thought about it. But after deep introspection and conversations with friends, I was able to finally accept the reality: there is nothing wrong with masturbating. 

Because of my personal experience coming to terms with my sexuality, I believe that one of the key steps in women’s sexual liberation is open conversation. It is paramount that teenage girls are given a safe space to comprehend their sexuality in order to mitigate the feelings of contempt and disgust surrounding female pleasure. 

While it might not seem that masturbating is a form of sexual liberation, discussing it breaks down the stigma and allows women to be free from the shame tied to the act of personal pleasure.

When women are able to take ownership of their sexuality, they are able to break free from the patriarchal expectations of a sexual woman. Such ownership includes the ability to freely speak about masturbation or other adjacent topics without shame or disgust. Though it will take much more than an open conversation to break down the sexual repression of women, it is a necessary step towards doing so.