Female Masturbation Shouldn’t Be Taboo

The movie “American Pie” has an entire scene dedicated to shining comedy on the topic of male masturbation—obviously incorporating pie into the joke. In the media, male masturbation is always presented as a joke or something that can be talked about by the public. However, female masturbation is presented in a much different light, sometimes in no light at all.

Although our society is becoming increasingly liberal and open, female topics such as masturbation are still seen as taboo subjects. Though some songs and movies try to discuss female masturbation, it is not as prominent or accepted as when masturbation is discussed in regard to males. Many sexual education courses and sometimes parents don’t feel comfortable addressing female sexuality and masturbation with them. This in turn creates a circle of repression and rigidness when it comes to girls talking about masturbation.

After speaking with Dr. Stephanie Bogart, I was able to hear and understand her thoughts on whether or not female masturbation is still a taboo in society today. Currently, Dr. Bogart is a lecturer in the department of Anthropology here at the University of Florida. Dr. Bogart has a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology and a master’s degree in anthropology from Iowa State University. 

It’s been talked about on “Sex and the City,” but why don't we talk about it in real life?

We might not think of female masturbation as still being taboo today in a society that has become increasingly more open and in which people have been more vocal about advocating for women’s rights. However, even though our society is becoming more candid and female masturbation has been talked about on television shows like “Sex in the City” and movies like “The To-Do List,” starring Aubrey Plaza.

In everyday life, female masturbation is not a topic that is openly talked about. I think that part of the reason why it still feels awkward to bring up masturbation, even just with our closest friends, is because of the way that female masturbation is presented when it is shown in the media. In the movie, “The To-Do List,” Aubrey Plaza’s character makes a big deal about finally masturbating, making it seem as if it is this wrong, secretive thing that takes courage to finally do.

In my film analysis class this semester I even learned that when a movie deals with men and masturbation it only gets rated R. But, when female masturbation is involved, the movie will then receive an NC-17 rating. It’s the way that the media presents masturbation that in turn affects how we view it. 

A bit about sex education 

Not only is the media to blame on shaping the way we view and think about masturbation, but so are the sex education classes we receive in school. I personally don’t even remember masturbation being covered when I got my sex education classes in middle school.

When I asked Dr. Bogart if she thought that sexual education classes did a good job of talking about and explaining masturbation to young girls, she stated: “In my research I find that it’s not really talked about. Masturbation is kind of one of those topics, again a taboo topic. And it might be mentioned. But in particularly younger sex classes it’s a topic that teachers aren’t comfortable bringing up and because of that I don’t feel that students feel comfortable talking about it. When we are young in particular we look up to our teachers as this ultimate source of knowledge and power. So, when our teachers don’t feel comfortable addressing masturbation it impacts us as young children.”

Open communication is always key 

Our parents are another source of knowledge and power that start to shape us from the second we start to absorb the things independently. But as we get older, it becomes harder to be open with our parents about topics relating to our personal lives, let alone a topic like masturbation.

The reason we might feel that way is because, as Dr. Bogart says, “In terms of masturbation, I think the stigma also comes with not talking about it at a young age for kids. Masturbation, I mean, occurs in kids as young as two years old and they don’t really understand what they’re doing at that point. But the fact of the matter is that when parents make their kids ashamed of that behavior, that’s going to affect them as they grow up and develop. Society impacts the parents but it’s also the parents impacting the children as well.”

In other words, our parents shape a lot of our initial thoughts and feelings about the world. By having our parents not mention masturbation or even shame us for it, leads to this unspoken topic and secrecy surrounding it. 

Though our society has become more open about female masturbation and it has even started to be represented in the media in a more casual way, it is still a taboo subject to bring up. We are a while away from having female masturbation presented in the ways that male masturbation is. Women are always overly sexualized in the media; however, I think that if our sex education classes and our parents were more open about masturbation with their daughters, it will help women feel as if masturbation is not a dirty, secretive thing. It instead should be known as something natural that empowers women and let’s them take control of their own sexuality in a way that is usually reserved for men.