The Stigma Around Female Masturbation, and Why We Need to Break It
Do women really masturbate?
Contrary to popular belief, most women have known the pleasures of masturbation. Globally in a UK survey, 95% of female respondents were found to have masturbated and even in a country like India where it is a great taboo to even talk about masturbation, a survey by Vitamin Stree stated that 81% of Indian women have masturbated at least once in their life.
The whole idea of masturbation is shrouded in a lot of shame and taboo in our society. Men masturbating is still widely known and accepted more as compared to female masturbation, which is often disregarded, shamed and even disbelieved at certain levels. No one seems to talk about women getting it off by themselves.
But, society is opening up more every day and female masturbation is coming to the forefront. And we know now that many women do indeed engage in masturbation, but still have a long way to go before owning their own sexuality.
Why is masturbation seen as shameful?
For generations, female sexuality has been a topic that is repressed or dismissed. Men have heralded the idea that women don’t enjoy sex, that it’s a duty for them and it is only done by women to please their husbands and have children. In line with these thoughts, masturbation is not only redundant but also unnatural in the eyes of a patriarchal society.
Even though both men and women are discouraged from masturbating, and many myths are circulated regarding the topic, male masturbation is still more accepted in society. Female masturbation, on the other hand, has a lot of shame and stigma attached to it. A woman who enjoys sex or engages in sexual acts only for pleasure is seen as an immoral person. Thus, a female who masturbates automatically becomes an unethical one as the sole purpose of masturbation is the one thing that’s stigmatised the most - pleasure.
Being surrounded by a conservative society, with no open conversation around topics of sex and masturbation, has made it a dirty thing in the minds of people - something that should not be indulged in. Much more so for women.
How masturbation is actually beneficial for you
Masturbation is surrounded by lots of myths that speak about how harmful they are. And all of them are completely untrue. In reality, it has a lot of benefits that are usually never talked about in public.
- You don’t have to rely on others for your pleasure - The best thing about masturbation is that you don’t have to rely on anyone else for your sexual pleasure. In fact, who would know what pleases you better than yourself? With masturbation, you have complete control over your body and you can give yourself an orgasm whenever you desire, at your own sweet time, with no one else to think about.
- It improves your mood greatly - With masturbation, especially where an orgasm is involved, your body releases a lot of endorphins like oxytocin and dopamine, all feel-good hormones that improve your mood greatly. It can act as a great stress buster as it fights against stress hormones to give you an emotional boost.
- It can make your sex life better - When you masturbate, you get to know your body better and understand what gives you maximum pleasure, the positions that work for you and the things that you enjoy the most in bed. When you know your needs better, you can communicate the same with your partner, thus greatly improving your sex life.
- It can help lower cramps and headaches - Masturbation has been known to reduce pain in the body. When you orgasm, the hormones that are released have been seen to combat pain. Thus, masturbation is a great way to reduce headaches, muscle aches and period cramps. Some people are squeamish about having sex on their period, so a quick session with yourself in the shower can help you relieve those stubborn cramps by yourself.
Masturbation can help with vaginal dryness post menopause - Masturbation increases the blood flow to your vulva, which enhances the natural lubrication process. After menopause, the body struggles to release lubrication naturally. Masturbation is a great way to cure vaginal dryness for better comfort and even better sex after menopause.
Why do we need to break the masturbation stigma?
No matter what you have grown up believing, an orgasm is important for both men and women in order to lead a happier life free from sexual frustration. Many women do not engage in sexual activity before marriage, while a lot of them fail to orgasm during sex. Masturbation can provide relief in both cases and even help you achieve orgasms during sex by understanding and explaining to your partner what you need in order to get off.
Apart from the obvious need, masturbation can be promoted as a healthy alternative to sex, so that people do not feel compelled to go look for pleasure outside for the wrong reasons. Promoting and breaking the stigma around masturbation can even help curb the spread of STDs and teenage pregnancies.
How do we go about breaking the stigma?
There are a number of things that can be done to break the stigma around masturbation and normalize it.
- Start a conversation about it - The best thing to do to normalize anything is to start a conversation about it. There is often a lot of shame and stigma involved when you feel that you are the only one doing it. Starting a conversation on the topic will help you figure out that your peers are also engaged in the same thing, which can help normalize a thing like masturbation.
- Raise questions about it during sex education classes - If schools are conducting sex education classes, it is important to raise questions about masturbation during those classes. Schools should also consider including masturbation in their sex-ed curriculum so that people understand it’s a normal and greatly beneficial way to channelize sexual energy.
- Masturbate more often - If you feel awkward about masturbation yourself, try engaging in it more often. Start by slowly touching yourself till you get comfortable around your own genitals. And remember, you can touch yourself any time you want and you owe no one else an explanation for it because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The more you do it, the more normal it will become.
- Identify the source of the guilt and shame - If you associate a lot of guilt and shame with masturbation, try and figure out the source of it. Is it coming from the way you have been raised? Does it have to do with your religious beliefs? Or is it something you read about or have been taught by people around you? Identifying the source will help you address the reasons more rationally and you can find the correct methods to destigmatize your beliefs about masturbation while becoming more open to it.
- More female masturbation needs to be depicted in mainstream media - This is one of the most effective ways to break the stigma around anything in society. Mainstream media has the power to portray societal taboos and problems that need to be addressed and the more masturbation is shown in movies and shows along with sex, the more normal it will eventually become.
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