August 06, 2023


For a woman to utter the word ‘masturbation’ is still abhorrent to many people who associate the act exclusively to men. When it is attached to a man, the word takes on a negative connotation. Masturbation is associated to release. If the orgasm is not expelled from the loins, that raw energy will transfer into other areas of life, into resentment, anger and frustration. And no one wants to be around an angry man.

Masculinity is so fragile that men cannot comprehend a female sexuality that is independent of them. How can a woman possibly gain pleasure without me? Impossible. Unthinkable. When the patriarchy erases the existence of independent female sexual pleasure and censors the women who speak about it, many girls grow into adult women not knowing about the incredible potential their body has. Her mother teaches her that she must not utter the V word, that she must feel a sense of embarrassment and guilt when her vagina excretes blood. She is banished to her room and forbidden from touching things when she menstruates. The smells, the hair, and the discharge all make the idea of exploring the vulva and vagina - touching, tasting, smelling it by choice, repulsive.

Phallic worship is embedded in us from childhood psychology to religion to a normalised aspect of heterosexual relationships, but we are told - by pop culture and the media that the female orgasm is ‘shrouded in mystery’. “Does the G-spot really exist?!” was a debate for many years. Scientists were brought into research and prove the existence of the g-spot. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s I don’t think I ever had a conversation with my friends about masturbation, however I never felt shame or embarrassment that I was touching myself in the privacy of my home. It was a secret activity, and that made it all the more exciting.

Sex education in schools across the “progressive” west and the global South is still extremely conservative and outdated. Only the scary parts of sex are highlighted - sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. There is no mention of desire, pleasure, and masturbation as the healthy and joyous aspects of non-reproductive sex. Families and parents are equally silent when it comes to the topic. So, the only place a young woman can turn to learn about sex is the internet and porn, and in porn female pleasure is almost non-existent.

Masturbation is considered a radical topic for women to speak openly about. I believe it 100 percent belongs in the realm of feminist activism because controlling our sexuality is one of the ways in which the patriarchy reduces our self-autonomy. A woman guilted out of a core facet of her humanity is much easier to control.  When we remain embarrassed of our own bodies, we become easier to mould into the subservient roles patriarchy wants to keep us trapped within.

Masturbation is not an elitist feminist struggle. When we masturbate, we declare that we do not need a man to fulfill the desires of our flesh. Don’t you think working class women also wish they had the luxury to be in an empty room alone, lock the door and orgasm? Women are taught their vaginas are for three painful, unpleasant things and nothing more – their husbands sex objects, menstruation, and pushing out babies. What if women were taught that a pleasure unlike anything else could be produced from the very same place? What if women were taught techniques and encouraged to elicit this ecstatic pleasure independent of anyone? Something that is wholly theirs, that no one can rob them of, that they can experience the joy of any day, anytime. A free gift from their loins. We should not need to rely on a man for anything, and that includes orgasms. If we fight for economic independence why not also fight for sexual independence?


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Pen Friend