Female masturbation is an outdated taboo

Have you seen the poster put up around school by Students for Reproductive Rights (SRR)? Yes, the A4 piece of paper with a vibrator on it. If you think you saw a public display of a sex toy, you’ve got it right. This past Tuesday, Sept. 26, SRR, in collaboration with Smitten Kitten, a “non-toxic, body safe sex toy store,” held a seminar on the meaning of sex toys, how to shop for sex toys and gave a rundown of sex toys materials, types and uses. How do you feel about the poster now? Are you less disgusted when finding out the educational purposes of this seminar? Or are you still weirded out by it? 

Interestingly enough, the first event hosted by SRR on birth control and presented by a Planned Parenthood staffer was approved by the Wellness Center to be swiped for SPM credit. However, the talk on sex toys was not. Information from Sydney Spreck ’18, co-chair of SRR, revealed that Smitten Kitten was hosted as an organization two years ago and was Wellness Swiped then as well. Does this point to the fact that female masturbation is still viewed as a taboo in our society today? 

Bashing the candle, flogging the hog or teasing the weasel, we young adults all know what it is. Many of us masturbate in our free time, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. But whenever the word “masturbation” is brought up, what gender did you immediately think of? Of the ten people that I asked this question, all ten said “male” in a matter of seconds. Our minds seem to immediately connect to the image of a satisfied man and not of a contented woman. This puzzling realization led me to do some research into the matter. According to the infamous Gossard Big M Survey, around 92 percent of women say they have touched themselves. Also, vibrators and other sex toys used for female masturbation are now mass-produced by condom companies. There is even an app for females who enjoy self-sex called “HappyPlayTime,” which features a floating vagina that gives anatomy lessons and techniques. 

It is fair to say that from the statistics and data collected from surveys and studies, female masturbation happens and is not a new thing. As a matter of fact, college is long deemed to be the place where we can be more open about sex as it provides space and the so-called “permission” for sexual honesty. Then why is it still a recreational activity that is so hard to accept in our modern society today?

Personally, I think it all comes down to perspective. As an international student coming from a Southeast Asian country, I should be made uncomfortable by just the thought of writing this article. Keep in mind now that growing up in a conservative Vietnamese household, I learned about sex through my 12-year-old peers, all the while finding out the “horrifying” truth that babies don’t come from their mother’s armpits. The word S-E-X, in general, is rarely heard of, let alone M-A-S-T-U-R-B-A-T-I-O-N. As a result, fresh off the boat and coming into a liberal arts education, my beliefs and prior knowledge are constantly challenged as topics like this are frequently mentioned on campus. 

Never in my life had I thought so much about the mere act of one sexually satisfying herself before knowing about SRR’s Sex Toys seminar. Of those whom I approached on this issue, some said that the thought of it makes them feel dirty, or even “morally unclean,” but I say it shouldn’t be that way. It has been scientifically proven that masturbation helps you release sexual tension, sleep better and even make you become a happier person. Female masturbation is a bust worthy taboo in the world today, and it should be applauded, not ashamed. 

Let’s say it is a hot summer day and you are itching for some cold, refreshing ice cream; you’d go to the local ice cream shop to satisfy your craving. A similar situation would be it is a hot summer day, and your sexual need is screaming at you, you’d grab a toy, or just use your hand and satisfy that need. Female masturbation is as simple as that. And the act of touching oneself when she feels the need to should be considered as normal as male masturbation.