Politics of Pleasure

August 27, 2010 § 11 Comments


“Women who report masturbating score higher on a self esteem index than women who do not report masturbating. Women who do masturbate have a more positive body image and less sexual anxiety.”

(Source, which you should actually look at because the whole chart is adorable and awesome.)

Ladies, raise your hand if you slightly jumped, internally cringed, or looked over your shoulder while reading that. It’s alright, really; I did while typing it.

Because, despite all of the talking and thinking and debating I like to do about sex and sexuality, I sometimes fall victim to the same fear of the “m” word that so many other people (particularly women) do. I can find myself having the most explicit conversation about sex with a good friend, and when it comes to that topic, I have trouble choking out the word “masturbate.” Several months ago, I was playing that (pretty stupid) party game Never Have I Ever with a large group of teenage girls -– we admitted all sorts of things without a hint of judgement in the room, yet when that question came up, less than half of us confessed to the deed. And I know that this intense shyness about it isn’t unique to me.

Funny that in a world where women are so sexualized, doin’ the Sally Draper is such a taboo.

But then again, it really isn’t that surprising.

Women are sexualized and objectified to appeal to others. Our culture tells us that our sexuality doesn’t belong to us, nor is it for us to enjoy -– it’s for The Male Gaze. Therefore, the act of a lady pleasing herself for her own purposes presents a little bit of a problem for The Patriarchy, which thinks that women are supposed to be sexy for other people, not for themselves. The Patriarchy also wants us to believe that women are passive about sex, that we are not sexual creatures. Masturbating proves that wrong.

Let’s return to that quote up there for a second as well:

“Higher self esteem…more positive body image…less sexual anxiety.”

When women feel these things, it’s harder to control them, to tell them what to do, to tell them how to change. Ultimately, masturbating is connected to self-respect, self-love, and sexual freedom, all things that challenge several mainstream notions of femininity.

Here’s the deal: Masturbating is fun, orgasms are good for you, and it makes misogynists uncomfortable. So get yourself a vibrator and start a revolution.


§ 11 Responses to Politics of Pleasure

  • anonymous says:

    good post!

  • berry says:

    i think media — and patriarchy and general cultural thinking — have inextricably linked sex, pleasure with the male gaze. what pleases men, what excites them, what they demand.
    im still confused why women have to be down on their knees in order in order to feel appreciated.

  • Ridge says:

    I have a lot of female friends who are never ashamed to proclaim that they masturbate just as much as guys do. And it’s true, these women feel so much better about themselves. To me a confident woman who’s in tune with her sexual appetite could never be sexier.

  • The Red Heron says:

    I’m thinking it might be the other way around, that women who feel good about themselves and have a good self-image in the first place are the ones who dare to masturbate. But that’s only from personal experience; I never dared touch myself until after I went through some psychological growth and started feeling good about myself for a change.

    But either way, I still support this.

  • srosengarten1641 says:

    Yeah I think that’s what I was trying to get at – not that masturbating instantly makes you love yourself, but that women aren’t “supposed” to do or talk about it because it implies that we’re sexual and/or confident. Which women aren’t “supposed” to feel.

  • Vir Modestus says:

    I do wonder about cause and effect. Do women who masturbate have less sexual anxiety, or does having less sexual anxiety lead women to masturbate? Either way, your conclusion that “masturbation makes … misogynists uncomfortable” is a good one.

  • Ned B. says:

    Here here! Not only is it fun and a great way to pass the time when there’s nothing much on t.v. and all the other great points made, but isn’t it great to increase awareness of yourself in a way that you know better how you feel and how you respond rather than how someone else sees you.

  • Rabbit says:

    I don’t know about this. I do that dirty deed (yes, I’m having a hard time even typing the word in this comment) on an almost daily basis, and my self-esteem is typically hovering around a one or a two on a 1-10 (10 high) scale. I wonder if the content of ones masturbatory fantasies has an effect? Mine tend to be… well, not exactly uplifting.

  • […] Politics of Pleasure by SARAH “Women who report masturbating score higher on a self esteem index than women who do not report […] […]

  • Casandra Perez says:

    This is very true i masturbate every day and i’m one of the most confident people i know. i’m very comfortable and happy with my body and I encourage every woman to masturbate and own their sexuality.

  • Ugh says:

    “So get yourself a vibrator and start a revolution.”

    So sick of this statement and the idea of liberation through acquisition.

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