As feminism becomes more sex-positive and more women are opting to be single (especially since single women with no kids are among the healthiest and happiest), it would seem logical that they would also be masturbating more as well. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case—as of 2014, men still masturbate more frequently than women. I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the countless euphemisms for male masturbation and the countless men who utter them on a daily basis. Plus, male masturbation is alluded to more often in the media, normalizing the practice and the implicit notion that only men go the solo route. But that’s just not true: women have libidos, and women masturbate to relieve them. So why are there fewer women than men masturbating and even fewer talking about it? Part of the reason can most definitely be linked to the many myths surrounding female masturbation. But don’t worry—if you’ve ever had the urge but were afraid to act on it because of the falsities floating around, I’m here to help.
This is a common one and, as I’m sure many have eventually deduced, is just embarrassingly wrong. This myth seems to derive from men’s fear of women not being dependent on their dicks for satisfaction (even though at least 75% of women already aren't), as it ignores the fact that most women need clitoral stimulation in order to be satisfied—not just their jackhammering. The best way to figure out if you need clitoral stimulation, or just figure out how you orgasm? Masturbation! Not only do women have an easier time orgasming during masturbation—most likely because they take their time and make sure they feel good—but they also know their bodies well enough to get themselves to orgasm and to tell their partners how to get them to orgasm, thus increasing the likelihood of you being satisfied by your partner.
2. Masturbating frequently will affect your ability to get pregnant.
To quote Planned Parenthood, “No.” Just no. This is not true, and it’s honestly a pretty cheap scare tactic. No study has ever shown that frequent masturbation has any effect on couples actively trying to get pregnant or on people who try to get pregnant later on in their lives. This comes off as just another myth designed to make women averse to masturbation, and to save themselves (from themselves) for exclusively reproductive sex.
3. Frequent masturbation leads to blindness.
This myth is another deterrent for masturbation and has no scientific backing. Unless you’re doing it to the point of unhealthy excess, you are not hurting yourself or anyone else, and you shouldn’t be scared into thinking that you are. This is just one of many scare tactics designed to discourage masturbation, and just like every other scare tactic, this one has been disproved multiple times. But if that wasn’t enough to convince you, just know I have 20/20 vision.
4. You shouldn’t masturbate when in a committed relationship.
Because masturbation is a great stress reliever, doing it can actually have beneficial effects on a relationship. Just as I previously stated, masturbation is a great way to get to know your own body and figure out what you like, and sharing this knowledge with your beloved partner can bring you two closer—both in and out of the bedroom. Of course, it can hinder a relationship if masturbation becomes a substitute for intimacy or if your partner is vehemently against it for some unknown reason. In either case, you and your partner should probably have a conversation.
5. Masturbating makes you a bad person.
For years, people have been demonizing not only masturbation, but those who partake in the activity. Of course, as is the case in most matters of sexuality, women are villainized much more. Oftentimes, the main reasons as to why masturbation is frowned upon are religious; Catholics, Christians, some Muslims, and other religious sectors forbid the act of self-love, and thus when members of these religions do explore that aspect of sexuality, they are met with intense feelings of shame. Some conservatives have made careers off their anti-masturbation beliefs—John Harvey Kellogg (of Kellogg’s cereal notoriety) only made his famous cornflakes to discourage kids from masturbating. And, while we may be in a much more sexually forward society, there are still many out there who are very clear about their mission to stop masturbation. But the biggest takeaway from this is that they’re all wrong—you are not any more or less of a morally dubious person simply because you masturbate. If you’re religious, I promise that your god(s) do not love you any less if you decide to love yourself a little more; if you’re not religious and are just worried about society’s judgment, rest assured that those who would judge you for something as innocuous as masturbating are already in possession of fairly suspicious character.
Masturbation is extremely normal, and even if no one is talking about it, almost everyone is doing it. There is nothing inherently shameful or dangerous about “flicking your bean,” having a “ménage á moi,” “finger painting,” or whatever else you want to call it. Keep this in mind if anyone—a priest, a judgmental friend, or a box of cereal—tries to tell you that (arguably) the most rewarding form of self-love is “unnatural” or “wrong.” It’s not, and you deserve to know your body and enjoy the pleasures of which it is capable. This is where you stop reading, because I’m pretty sure you now have some much more important business to attend to.
Annie Walton Doyle
Ameerah de Chabert