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Why is female masturbation still taboo in 2020?

female masturbation

Glamour magazine surveyed a group of women in March 2020, and found that 91% of the women they asked do masturbate. Plus, 36% of the women surveyed did it 2-5 times a week; with 67% saying they used a vibrator or sex toy when they self-pleasure.

But something about the survey that we picked up upon was that 53% of women said they were uncomfortable discussing the subject… and we wanted to dig a little deeper to find out why.

The survey was conducted this year, and whilst most women agreed that they masturbate routinely, it also seemed to still be a taboo topic and something that was hard to talk about. Is it society’s general reluctance to talk about female pleasure that is the issue? 

Mainstream Media and the portrayal of masturbation

Although we’re living in a society that is much more liberal and open, female masturbation seems to slip through the net. Though there are some female musicians openly singing about it and books/tv programmes and films portraying it, it is still not as widely accepted as male masturbation. 

Take The Inbetweeners, American Pie, American Beauty, Psycho, The Dictator and lots more, you’ll see that male masturbation has been normalised in the movies. On the other hand, there are some instances of female masturbation (mostly recently) that are starting to break the taboo barriers. For example Sex Education, Man Men, Fleabag and Girls.

Sex Education at School

Masturbation is often excluded from sex education, leaving it up to parents to openly discuss it with their children. (Something that some parents may find too awkward to do) And therefore it creates a circle of repression and secures female masturbation as an unspoken taboo.

We won’t get too much into the subject of terrible sex education at school, but we at SOCIALight don’t ever remember learning anything of value in sex ed, other than not to get pregnant and to, well, not have sex!

Just as we discussed in last month’s column, a woman’s sexuality is suppressed compared to a males, with the concern of being referred to as a ‘whore’ or ‘slut’ still being an issue to this very day. Whereas men sleeping with a lot of women is championed, as is masturbation. Jerking off is a common topic with males and seen as something normal, particularly in puberty.

“I’ll never forget when I was playing a game of ‘I have never’ with female members of my family on a hen party and one of them said ‘I have never ever masturbated.’ When I and another member of the group took a drink (meaning that we had done it or do it) the girls that didn’t drink were horrified. They were in complete shock that we masturbated and a couple of things were said that surprised me. ‘Why would you do that? That’s what a boyfriend is for.’ Was one of the comments. They found the idea of self-pleasuring ‘disgusting’ but when asked why it’s okay for a man, they didn’t have an answer. I told them they had no idea what they were missing out on!”

Lanie Bayliss

When it comes to educating pre-pubescent kids about masturbation, we feel as though the topic of exploring one’s body should be touched upon in sex education classes. Males need to be assured that masturbation is normal and so do females. They need to be told that it’s perfectly normal to find out what feels good or what doesn’t… and the idea would be that it’d teach them to be a bit more in control of their bodies before they share sexual experiences with others.

When it comes to sex, perhaps they’ll be more prepared, perhaps their first time will be more of an enjoyable experience and perhaps they will learn to be able to enjoy sex rather than put it on a pedestal and making it such a secretive and shameful topic.

“The first time I had sex I had never really touched myself down there or knew what it looked like. I lost my virginity to someone older than me because I thought they’d know what they were doing and it wouldn’t be as awkward. I wish I’d known to explore my genitals beforehand and get to know what felt good and what would relax me for when I was ready to have sex. My first time wasn’t horrendous but it wasn’t pleasurable. I think if I’d been more aware and open to learning more about my vagina and how it works, it could have been much better for me earlier.”


It’s time to break down the taboo

In 2017, reported that: “Roughly one in five women say they have never masturbated in their lifetime. Never ever. Which is notable, given that masturbation is not only the safest kind of sex, but it also promises health benefits from better sleep to less painful menstrual cramps—and it can empower women to better understand their sexuality. So, why aren’t more women lending themselves a hand?”

The report found that “The majority of women have done it but a lot of women are still raised with the idea that it makes you ‘slutty’ or ‘oversexed’ in some way to be interested in sexual pleasure.”

Honestly, it’s time for female masturbation to have its time in the spotlight.

More interesting information about female masturbation

What women think about when masturbating

The Maths of Sex

Female masturbation is empowering, not shameful

In the Name of Feminism, 28 Movies and TV Shows That Feature Female Masturbation

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