Ladies, let’s loosen up the socially imposed chastity belts and talk about sexual empowerment. Female sexuality has stereotypes in society: if you don’t have sex, you’re viewed as a prude. If you enjoy having sex, you’re seen as a slut.
Thanks to the contraceptive pill becoming publicly available in the 1960s, women were afforded the possibility of sexual liberation on their own terms. The pill allowed women to challenge the negative ideals of their sexuality, giving them the freedom to feel liberated about sex. Women have evolved since then, embracing their sexuality more and more. But, there are still ideals that society has placed on women and their sex lives.
Yes, women get horny and yes, they like to have orgasms too. There are some old myths surrounding masturbation and sexual empowerment within society. The new Ontario sexual education curriculum discusses many aspects to sexual health, including masturbation. In some sex education classes they point out the clitoris on a diagram, then that is it. Some people consider the functions of the clitoris taboo. The clitoris is not located in the vagina; it is located on the top of the labia. The clit is comparable to the penis because it contains erectile tissue, but it contains double the amount of nerve endings in comparison. It is the only organ made purely for pleasure.
“There are all types of traditional norms: women should not be assertive or aggressive, women should be gentle or sensitive,” said Natalie Kouri-Towe, gender studies professor at Wilfrid Laurier University.
The idea of not talking and educating about the clit is what makes it a taboo.
Masturbation won’t cause you to go blind, or cause horrid acne. According to Indiana University’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, from the ages of 20 to 24, 83 per cent of men masturbate while only 64 per cent of women do. The numbers become closer between the ages of 25 to 29, with women at 72 per cent, but the numbers for men are still higher. Considering females reach puberty before boys, at the age of 16 to 17, only 45 per cent of women masturbate, while 75 per cent of men do.
Masturbation has many benefits, one being that it releases endorphins, leading to less bodily pain. It also won’t get you pregnant, and you can’t get an STI from masturbating (unless you’re using something dirty, then that’s all on you).
“Women are taught in society that they have a contradictory, fine line to walk where they have to be sexually attractive to men. They also have to be personally responsible for the way in which men act towards them,” Kouri-Towe stated. “This produces a social context where there is a lot of shame and stigma attached to women’s desires and sexuality with not a lot of freedom to make choices that are by a women’s interests.”
Historically, society views women as figures of sex, especially for men. Women have an expectation from society to act a certain way and to look a certain way. This creates pressure on women to feel attractive based on someone else’s ideals. Even body hair removal has become an expectation. Society views women with pubic hair as a fetish rather than a norm. The porn industry is to credit for projecting this ideal that women should be constantly grooming themselves. Society has pressured women into making themselves desirable for men and for others. This all boils down to women losing control over their sexuality.
“It impacts an individual’s sexuality in general, it removes your relationship from your own desire from that equation,” according to Kouri-Towes.
Slowly, society is creeping closer to embracing the powers of female sexuality, but of course, we still need conversations like these, about masturbation and pleasure to happen in order to make the topic less taboo. We need to embrace female sexuality. Ladies, take the time to flick the bean, finger-paint, paddle the pink canoe, or just straight up masturbate. It should be normal for us too.