Elephant in the Room: Cum on, let’s talk about female masturbation

By Ruchi Shah
Blogger

Various issues of gender inequality have recently been brought into the spotlight resulting in dialogue — yay progress! Such issues include positive body image, sexual consent, rape culture and slut shaming, and domestic violence. However, a particular issue that also deserves equal attention has been left in the dark and continues to be perceived as highly stigmatized. I’m referring to an a certain pleasure that usually takes place when you’re alone, snuggled between your sheets, right before you fall asleep. Did you get a guilty feeling just thinking about the phrase? Well, you shouldn’t have. Female masturbation is indeed a pleasure and there’s nothing guilty about it.

There are countless (invalid, as I hope to convince you of) reasons as to why female masturbation remains such a taboo topic, but the common thread of patriarchy connects them all. True sexual liberation for women will not be achieved until female masturbation is normalized to the extent that male masturbation is. In this discrepancy is the inherent implication that males are more deserving of such pleasure and by extension, their gratification is of greater importance.

The root of this issue can be traced back to a fear of disrupting the status quo of male dominance. The patriarchy fears the attainment of female sexual satisfaction without male stimulation. Female masturbation is a self-determining act — one that solely addresses a woman’s needs. In addition, masturbation permits sexual exploration without having to seek validation. Male masturbation is regarded as a coming-of-age rite of passage for teenagers. In fact, the absence or lack of acknowledgement of masturbation is an anomaly for boys and is a cause of concern.

In contrast, female sexuality has a long history of being repressed and this discrimination was particularly prominent in the early 19th century where notions of nymphomania were ubiquitous. According to nymphomania, which was considered a disease, any interest in sexual activity expressed by a woman was automatically classified as an extreme case of abnormal, insatiable sexual appetite. The existence of female sexuality was permissible in reference to male sexuality, with the role of the former being to fulfill the needs of the latter.

The dichotomy between the normalization of male and female masturbation is incredibly problematic. It is notions such as these that lead to victim blaming in situations of sexual assault and extends to the dehumanization of prostitutes. Female sexuality needs to be destigmatized — let your hands do what they want and dance all alone in the dark.

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