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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

At some point in our evolution, humans as a species decided to make sex taboo. It didn’t make people stop having it( hence our overpopulation problem) but its suppression gave rise to a myriad of other issues that we are still dealing with today.

The establishment of the patriarchy allowed men to reclaim their sexuality, but further quashed the desires of women to the point that women struggle with expressing their bodies to date. Now there are a lot of ways to describe the patriarchy and what it stands for, but the easiest it that likes to view and treat women like the lesser species and to own them and their bodies. We see it when consent is disregarded or assumed. When ‘developed’ countries pass laws against abortion. When a street full of people let a man stab his wife to death on the pavement. It comes as no surprise that they try to control women’s pleasure.

The stigma around female pleasure stems from society’s discomfort with seeing women owning and enjoying their bodies which in turn stems from this very patriarchal architecture of our lives today that only allows a woman’s sexuality when it’s an external two dimensional factor that adds to a man’s experience.

It’s perfectly alright if a woman wears a bikini in an advertisement for something completely unrelated but not if she’s choosing to wear it at the beach because then it’s a choice she’s making to be comfortable with her body. It’s perfectly alright for a woman to masturbate on screen for a reason barely linked to the storyline but not in her bedroom because then it’s a choice she’s making to enjoy her body. The hypocrisy of the policing of women’s bodies is never more clear than when the validity and value of an action change when it’s intention stops benefitting men.

All media coverage of female pleasure either grossly sexualises it or romanticises it in a way that boosts the male ego instead of actually helping the audience understand it. Furthermore, the very narrative or portrayal of female and male pleasure varies so greatly both in quality and frequency that a film that shows a woman masturbating is considered ‘progressive’ while one does not even notice if it shows a man masturbating because that isn’t a surprise to anyone.

This is where the crux of the situation lies. A fifteen year old boy masturbating is normal and expected because he’s going through puberty and his body is changing but a fifteen year old girl going through the very same thing is not granted this space to discover herself simply because she’s a girl. The very same girl will be shamed if she sleeps with the boy while he’ll be given a pat on the back. She’ll be called a prude if she doesn’t, while he’ll be consoled. There is a major disconnect between what sex is for men and women cause both ending being about men.

Society tells us that the girls who wear ‘short clothes’ and ‘hang around boys’ are bad and wrong and ‘loose’, that pleasuring ourselves is gross and disgusting and that we should wait till marriage to ‘save’ ourselves for our husbands. They vilify our bodies and choices till these beliefs are drilled into our heads from so early an age that we ourselves start thinking like that till we recognise the issue and actively disengage from it. This privilege however, is only afforded to the those of us who have access to information beyond what’s been passed down and hence the ability to form another opinion or make another choice. Millions of women in rural areas live their whole lives colouring inside these lines simply because it’s all they know.

The fight against the patriarchy and the social vilification and stigma of female pleasure is going to be a long uphill battles, but the most important thing we can do as individuals is rescue and reclaim our bodies.

Masturbation alone reduces stress and anxiety, increases sexual satisfaction, betters partnered sex and triggers the release of endorphins. It helps prevent cervical infections and UTI’s, boosts the immune system by increasing cortisol levels and aids people with conditions like vaginismus. Facts aside, just being able to connect with your body and enjoy it gives you so much more control over it and goes a long way to dismantling the notion of the ‘ideal woman’.

To every woman reading this: it’s not shameful, it’s not wrong and go buy the toy you’ve always had your eye on.

Aditi Singh

Delhi South '24

Aditi is a reader-writer-cake enthusiast who uses writing to channel her thoughts and ideas. She is a second -year mathematics major who enjoys writing pieces that force the reader to challenge their existing notions. She also talks about navigating a male-centric heteronormative world as a queer teenager