May is International Masturbation Month!

Ok – here goes. A post that is going to make some people uncomfortable and make some people blush, and is definitely going to get some weird Google searches sent my way.

Today, we’re going to talk about masturbating. Particularly, about girls masturbating.

Because let’s face it – that’s something we don’t really talk about. Everybody knows that boys masturbate (even though we usually say “jerk off” or some other slang term. The word “masturbate” does sound kind of clinical and unfun). Boys’ masturbating is considered totally normal. It’s the subject of jokes (see “American Pie” and pretty much every comedy in that genre) and awkward PSAs. But girls’ masturbating? Rarely mentioned.


Comedy gold.

Our attitudes towards female masturbation are probably rooted in many other cultural attitudes about women and sexuality.

First, as a society, we seem reeeeeeally uncomfortable with the idea that a girl might want to have sex, experience sexual pleasure or – dare I say it – have orgasms. “Getting off” seems like a perfectly normal thing for guys to want to do, but the fact that we often use the term “female orgasm” to refer to girls’ getting off implies that the “normal” orgasm is – you guessed it – male.

The film "Blue Valentine" notably appealed its NC-17 rating, arguing that a woman receiving oral sex is no more "pornographic" than a lot of the sex shown in R-rated films.

The film “Blue Valentine” notably appealed its NC-17 rating, arguing that a woman receiving oral sex is no more “pornographic” than a lot of the sex shown in R-rated films.

These attitudes about female sexuality definitely extend to films and television, where it is VERY rare to see a woman experiencing any kind of sexual pleasure on her own. It’s been well documented that films that show graphic violence (including sexual violence against women) or sex scenes between a man and a woman can get away with an R or even PG-13 rating, but films that show a woman receiving oral sex will likely be slapped with an NC-17.

For some reason we’re much more comfortable with women and sex if there’s also a man involved.

Furthermore, the way that heterosexual sex is often presented in sex ed is that boys will want sex, and it’s girls’ job to decide how far it’s going to go and when they’re going to stop. This puts girls in a defensive position, which isn’t exactly conducive to feeling good. If a girl is constantly worried about how far to go or what the boy is going to want from her, she’s not going to be able to focus on what she wants or what’s making her feel good. Moreover, if / when a girl does start to feel sexual desire, she might feel like she’s weird or there’s something wrong with her.

Finally, through media and cultural attitudes, we are taught that, while penises are, again, kind of funny and normal, vaginas* are gross, mysterious things that nobody wants to talk about, let alone explore. (Keep in mind, not all people with vaginas are girls, and not all girls have vaginas!)

This, dear readers, is a crying shame.

Masturbating is awesome. It’s fun, it’s free, it provides myriad health benefits, it can help you figure out what turns you on, and when it’s done alone carries no risk of pregnancy or STIs (although in the 90s, pointing out that fact could get you fired by the president…)!

Luckily, there are some efforts being made to change the landscape regarding women’s pleasure and masturbation, and people are beginning to notice just how messed-up some of our attitudes are.

The CW doesn't want you to see a teenaged girl pleasuring herself, but they're ok with you seeing her have illicit sex with a man at least twice her age.

The CW doesn’t want you to see a teenaged girl pleasuring herself, but they’re ok with you seeing her have illicit sex with a man at least twice her age.

When the CW, a network that features teen dramas where characters attempt rape on screen, censored a scene in Reign where Kenna masturbates, but left in the part where she’s seduced by a married man at least twice her age, they sent a pretty clear message about what’s ok when it comes to sex and what isn’t. A 15-year-old girl making herself feel good? Not ok. A 15-year-old girl making a grown man feel good? Ok. This censorship was noticed and criticized by many bloggers who pointed out the problems with erasing female pleasure.

A current Australian TV show features a mother encouraging her daughter to explore what she likes sexually. For any parents reading this blog, that article is really interesting. I know the idea of your children having sex can be terrifying, but the idea of your children having sex and not enjoying it, or having sex for reasons other than “I want to!” should be even scarier.

Inspired by Evan Rachel Wood’s Twitter rant regarding a film that cut an oral sex scene while leaving scenes of violence, Salon put together a list of the top ten oral sex scenes in film.

Happy the friendly vulva wants to teach you how to make her feel good!

Happy the friendly vulva wants to teach you how to make her feel good!

An app, Happy Play Time, has been developed that will help women learn how to masturbate; unfortunately, it’s been rejected by Apple. People are calling out the hypocrisy of featuring games called “hot sex game” and games aimed at either male sexuality or heterosexual sex, but not one designed to educate women about their own sexuality.




May is even International Masturbation Month!

So, to save you the trouble of having to Google masturbation tips, I’ve put together a handy (get it?) guide to feeling good, in case you’d like to celebrate.

There’s still over a week left in May – get going!

4 responses to “May is International Masturbation Month!

  1. Fantastic post! You made some excellent points about girls being both sexualised and having their sexuality robbed from them. Masturbation is a great way for girls to reclaim it. I loved that you included trans and non binary girls in this as well. They experience everything cis girls do and more. Too often do feminists forget to include our transgender sisters 🙂


  2. Really interesting and thoughtful post. I am personally not afraid of talking about things like this – but it does make some people uncomfortable. The issues you raised are really interesting – I never even thought about censorship on TV and films.


    • Yeah – it’s interesting how like, I think this is something that should be talked about as a normal part of growing up, but I was really nervous posting the link to Facebook because my family might be embarrassed. But I hope the more people (like you or me) who talk about it, the more “normal” it will become!


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