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.