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Why Women Should Stop Feeling Guilty For Masturbating

I Hate Suzie on Sky

The pandemic has forced us all to spend a little more time on ourselves – enjoying a milky hot coffee in the morning, maybe a midday yoga sesh in our living room or even a soothing bubble bath before bed – all things we probably wouldn’t have made time for otherwise. It has also left a lot of us feeling sexually frustrated with zero chance of pulling a potential new date for a pint and a cheeky snog. 

To thank us for sacrificing our sex lives and staying at home during these uncertain times, dating app Badoo released a campaign that is encouraging singletons to not leave their homes but instead ‘flick for victory,’ while recent stats from LELO, a Swedish sex toy company, show a 40% increase in sales since the beginning of lockdown. Yet studies have also revealed that females were less likely to masturbate than men during the past few months.    

Why is there such a difference in the conversation around masturbation when it comes to men and women? 

I, for one, used to believe that female solo sex was sinful, that the term ‘horny’ only applied to boys who could wank as often as they pleased without judgement (well to a certain degree, no one wants to date a boy who has a better relationship with his hand than he does with his partner), and that nice girls didn’t touch themselves. 

I grew up in an extremely narrow-minded country, where society labelled girls as sluts or virgins, and sex education included a five-minute video enforcing the concept that women should only have sexual intercourse for reproduction purposes. The syllabus certainly did not cover the topic of female masturbation or give us the impression that we could have sex just for the pleasure of it.  

The lack of conversation surrounding such an important topic meant that I never tried to explore my own body or my sexuality without feeling an insufferable amount of guilt and disgust for even thinking – yet alone talking – about it. 

On my first week in London, a new friend proudly stated that she was feeling quite horny and could not wait to get home and wank later that day. I fumbled awkwardly for a reply and instead stood there with my mouth wide open in utter shock. A woman had just openly admitted to masturbating – without any shame or embarrassment. 

Curiosity got the better of me and I began asking my friends their opinion on masturbating. “I really want to get a rabbit”, blurted one of the girls, as I quickly realised she wasn’t talking about getting a fluffy pet. 

Although society has become more vocal and open towards sensitive issues such as mental health, sex and race, masturbation is still stigmatized as a dirty secret that no one cares to share. It took me 25 years and a global pandemic to realise that it was a common thing for women to do and I was intrigued to finally see what all the fuss was about. 

After consuming myself in numerous articles, books and a few hours of debate, I finally learnt where to touch and what made me feel good, without depending on a man to satisfy my needs. I still felt the aftermath of shame wash over me each time, and I vowed not to tell my friends I ever tried it (ironic seeing as I am now writing it for the world to see). 

In the television series I Hate Suzie, Billie Piper’s character broke the record for the longest masturbation scene on UK television with an impressive seven-minute solo-sex scene – which was praised by many women for it’s refreshing and honest depiction of a woman touching herself. So why do I, and many other women, still feel shameful to admit to masturbating?

I Hate Suzie on Sky

Somatic sexologist Stella of sex coaching website Stella with Love explains that people need to become more aware of female masturbation as it is a healthy and natural thing. 

“Some women feel ashamed because of the way we are socially conditioned, but masturbation has many health benefits. It produces oxytocin and dopamine which is especially important during this pandemic as it can help us to de-stress and relax”, says Stella. 

*Chloe, a 22-year-old freelance writer, noticed how much she began to pleasure herself during lockdown. “The amount of times that I masturbated during the week almost doubled thanks to the pandemic. The fact that I live alone did not help either – what is there to do when you are lonely, stressed, bored and horny?” she asks. 

“I think it’s fucking great”, declares *Rosie, a 23-year-old postgraduate student, who began masturbating in her teenage years. “The stigma exists because society is afraid of women having autonomy over their bodies and their pleasures. If women enjoy touching themselves without guilt, their pleasure no longer belongs to men; they are no longer required. 

“Masturbation is fun, exhilarating, and sometimes the only time women orgasm. Confidence in your femininity and sexuality can only come from open discourse about what you want or need”. 

We have seen from an abundance of movies and television shows that men usually prefer to masturbate watching porn, with Pornhub’s worldwide traffic increasing by 11 percent during lockdown. But what is the best way to get us women in the mood?

“Porn really fails to do it for me”, Rosie admits. “There’s no context, no sufficient foreplay or convincing romantic chemistry. It’s abrupt, immediate, and often very disconcerting in what it expects from men and women both. What does sometimes work is erotica or a steamy movie/TV sex scene”. 

Stella explains that although more women watch porn nowadays, it is mainly designed for the male gaze and some free porn websites may be off-putting; “Men are more visual than women, so I would suggest some erotic literature, photography or art to get women in the mood”. 

So the next time you are feeling ashamed or guilty at wanting to explore yourself intimately, remember it is as important and natural as getting your hair done – so grab your trusty vibrator (or your fingers if that does the trick) and make sure to enjoy every solo single minute of it. 

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