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An American Mystery: Female Masturbation

Petting the cat, DIYing, coloring, finding nemo, making waffles, dotting the “i,” watching Magic Mike. Do I need to go on? We are so frazzled by the topic of masturbation that we must find some code name to describe it. Honestly, you could come up with any action and use it as a euphemism for masturbation. Why does it have to come to that, though? Female masturbation is so taboo and discrete in this country as though it’s some national secret treasure. America is seen as an absurdly vulgar country, but female masturbation never seems to get the invite to the sex talk discussion. 

Well, we’re going to start the conversation here. I interviewed 3 college women on their experiences and perceptions of masturbation. Keep reading to see the harsh reality of this normal human habit. 

What percentage of women do you think masturbate? 

Woman 1: I think close to 90% of women have at least tried it once. 

Woman 2: I think around 40% of women masturbate 

Woman 3: I would say close to 80% of women masturbate. 

The New York Post reports that around 78% of women masturbate. Obviously, my interviewees were all over the place with their responses. While Woman 3 was very close to the actual estimate, each participant said their answer was a very rough guess. 

What misconceptions did you have about masturbation as a kid? 

Woman 1: As a kid, I didn’t know what it meant at all. Luckily, the sex education at my school was pretty open-minded. They taught masturbation as a safe sex method. However, it did not go much further than that. Masturbation was definitely seen as weird or funny whenever it was talked about. 

Woman 2: I honestly did not have any misconceptions of masturbation as a kid. I had no idea what it was. I didn’t have “the talk.” I was very sheltered as a kid. It sounds crazy, but I didn’t even find out about masturbation, female or male, until I was in high school. 

Woman 3: I honestly believed it would make me infertile. I also believed that I was the only person in the world doing it. I did not really know what I was doing, but I thought it was a sin or a dark habit that I needed to keep hidden, like smoking. I actually made it my New Year’s resolution to quit for many years in a row because I thought it was that shameful. 

Why do you think female masturbation is so taboo? 

Woman 1: I think it is something that is rooted in misogyny. Women who embrace their sexuality and are comfortable with it are seen as sl***y. On the other hand, women who do not want to have sex are seen as a prude. Whenever a woman can accept her sexuality like a man does, like with masturbation, it receives a negative connotation. Sexuality is seen as a traditionally masculine thing. 

Woman 2: I think female masturbation is taboo because female sexuality, up until pretty recently, has been discouraged in society. 

Woman 3: Pop culture seems to glamorize male masturbation, but keeps female masturbation hidden. It seems as though the standard is to make sexual experiences pleasurable for men, but we rarely see the reverse. The extreme lack of attention to female pleasure leads to female masturbation or female sexual desire remaining hidden and taboo. 

How do you think masturbation is portrayed in pop culture or society in general? 

Woman 1: The first thing I thought of was its presence in movies or TV shows. Masturbation is seen as something a woman has never done before or has done it in secret. Often, female masturbation is accompanied with an embarrassing moment. Although it is being addressed in TV shows or movies, it is usually in a negative context. 

Woman 2: The first thought that comes to mind is the opening scene of Not Another Teen Movie. I’ve seen it usually portrayed as intentionally comedic and awkward, as if the girl had never done it before. 

Woman 3: In society, female sexual desire remains hidden. It tends to be less obvious when we want to have sex. We are not forward with our wants and desires. We are so good at keeping it a secret. Sadly, masturbation tends to remain a secret. 

Have you ever talked about masturbation with your partner or friends?

Woman 1: I’ve only recently become open with my friends and partner about masturbation. It is one of those things that once one person brings it up, then other people feel comfortable talking about it. I’ve been lucky to have partners who are very much okay with the subject of female masturbation. 

Woman 2: Yes! I am pretty open with my friends and partner about the fact that I do masturbate. I’ve found that it helps communicating with my partner. By explaining what I do alone, it helps him know what I do and don’t like. 

Woman 3: I never discussed it with my friends in high school. When I came to college, it felt more natural and comfortable to discuss it with my friends. We will still use code words for masturbation, though. 

There you go, female masturbation from the minds of three very different college women. Their experiences are so vastly different, but also way too similar. The general theme is that masturbation is perceived as embarrassing and something that should remain a secret. That could not be further from the truth. The change happens with us. Start talking about it. Grab some wine and get your friends talking. I challenge you all to take hold of your sexuality. Maybe many of you haven’t explored your clitoris before, and that is completely fine! Don’t feel embarrassed to check her out tonight. 

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