Oh look! Bianca’s back and she’s talking about one of her favorite topics, masturbation.
In an effort to assess what other topics I should cover with my with my blogging, I posed this question: if you could name one sex-related thing you wish the internet had better information on, what would it be? What people mentioned (and then seconded and thirded via facebook) was that there isn’t nearly enough information out there about female self-image and masturbation- which is truly terrible because it’s such an important issue to women everywhere and a healthy part of everyone’s life.
I’ve talked obliquely about both subjects before in posts like Big Blond and Beautiful (where we saw that even Playboy models get their thighs slimmed, their busts enlarged, and their tummy tucked by editors to create an impossibly perfect female) and Argentina and an Orgasm Machine (where I talked about the need for a machine whose end goal is to learn how females orgasm in order to “teach” non-orgasmic women is a symptom of a culture where women are incredibly removed from their own bodies).
Moreover though, I’d like to talk about how those two ideas- body image and masturbation- intersect. We’ve been told a million times over in health class, by parents, by friends, and in PSAs so numerous they make our heads spin, that the media’s idea of a normal female’s body is completely distorted and unreasonable, that we should not judge ourselves based on that model. That discussion is old hat. But what our teachers and parents and friends haven’t told us is that our model of what the perfect girl “does” is equally skewed.
Put bluntly, the perfect girl is the one who gets to have sex. She’s the one who is attractive enough to be unabashedly sexual- posing in Abercrombie and Fitch ads without a shirt, splashing in the waves in her string bikini, and fucking as much as she feels like. And the other girls? The ones who have some curves, who don’t wear makeup or straighten their hair, who don’t go tanning every weekend to get that sun-bronzed look- they get nothing. And besides the obvious fact that regarding sex itself, THIS IS TOTAL BULLSHIT, this vicious anti-sexualization of the “non-perfect girl” spills over into other areas of sexuality that all women have a right to- including (you guessed it)…masturbation.
Accordingly, non-perfect girls (meaning ALL girls, because no one matches the media standard out there, and you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who will assert that she hasn’t had body issues at some point) are made to feel guilty about masturbating. Masturbation isn’t something that normal girls do.
This of course exists in sharp dichotomy to the way masturbation is portrayed for guys. In the movies, a woman masturbating earns the movie an automatic R-rating, which there are hundreds of PG-13 movies which focus (perhaps even excessively) on male masturbation. In movies like American Pie, male masturbation is made the object of humor, associated with geeks and nerds who “can’t get laid” on their own and resort to masturbation as a last resort.
Clearly, both sexes have had their issues with this most natural of human impulses. But I think the biggest crime associated with masturbation is the guilt complex that comes with these negative associations. Now I’m not one to defend anything that comes out of Gossip Girl Taylor Momsen’s mouth, but the media fervor that arose out of her comment that her vibrator “was her best friend” is the ugliest example yet of how society has vilified a (dare I say normal?) girl’s sexuality.
“But shock it did. PopCrunch lamented that her comment was”Wrongtown USA!” because “this child is 16,” and Hollywood Life pronounced her “out of control.” … Momsen may not be the role model I’d prefer my tween daughters to emulate, but the collective horror over her reference to self-pleasure speaks volumes about how taboo the subject still is. And frankly, if I’d had a vibrator at 16, high school would have sucked a lot less.”
AGREED. It’s truly absurd that such a simple comment- and probably one of the more polite that has ever come out of Momsen’s mouth- should cause such outrage from the media. But it is indicative of just how scared we are of talking about our teenage daughters’ sexuality. We can’t even accept a healthy practice like masturbation without raising an uproar in the blogosphere about sexual morality and the “innocence” of youth. (Funny how that standard only applies to women though, isn’t it?)
So the question remains, what IS important to know about female body issue and sexuality that we can un-shroud from the maelstrom of hate surrounding it?
1. Basic anatomy. Scarleteen is still the best source out there for down-to-earth information about teen sexuality- so check out With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body to find out how all of us are built, and how our minds and hormones are as much a part of our sexual response as anything between our legs
2. Self-image. Women masturbate. Crazy stuff. One of the most useful exercises you can do to promote the idea of positive sexual self-image is to think about the women you know and admire and think about the fact that they masturbate. Think that’s creepy? That’s part of the problem. If we can’t conceptualize the simple idea that other women masturbate, we can’t begin to be comfortable about doing it ourselves. But if women we know and respect- our mother, sisters, friends, teachers- masturbate, then why in the world shouldn’t we.
3. Deal with yourself and your hang-ups. You know what? Just stop reading what I’m writing and go look at Scarleteen. Go. Go do it now. Start here.
A healthy, holistic view of your own sexuality (and not just the gay-straight, kink-vanilla dichotomies we’ve rehashed) is crucial to fulfilling sexual relationships- both with others and with yourself!- down the line. Don’t let the media’s bastardization make something wonderfully practical and stress-releasing like masturbation into a devil. As I’ve said before, own your body. Embrace your sexual self, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.
Also, if you’re interested- this is just a funny little article about masturbation and how the bible has been misinterpreted to vilify the practice even more. So sad.
Stay cool, queer kids.