Monday, July 6, 2009

Masturbation: Good Girls Do Touch Themselves

Over the past year I have occasionally blogged about masturbation because I believe that it is a subject that women really go to great lengths to avoid talking about.  We seem to have no problem discussing men pleasing themselves and in fact we expect such behaviour, however when it comes to women masturbating there is a great silence.

Female masturbation continues to be taboo because women that are sexual are often disciplined in our culture.  Even when we have sex within what are considered socially approved relationships, sex is something that is constructed as a burden, rather than a desire or a right. 

We claim that we are so very liberated, however  female sexuality is very much controlled by patriarchy.  This is not about the celebration of raunch culture but about  honouring the parts of us that are sexual.  Masturbation is about getting in touch with our sexual side and understanding our bodies. 

For it to be successful you need to free your mind of all of the inhibitions that we have normalized and fixate on what feels good.  As a womanist/feminist I will play mentally with ideas that don’t necessarily align with my political beliefs in terms of gender relations, however when explored in this vein because they originate from me rather than being the result of a power imbalance in a sexual relationship, they take on a different connotation.  In my fantasy my sexual partner may say or do something that in a real world experience I would have found threatening however because it is just a fantasy, I am safely able to work through ideas.

After experiencing a sexual assault, masturbation can be a way to reclaim sexuality and the body.  Touching oneself is a way nurturing and self comfort.  It is not often that we think of masturbation along these lines and this is due in part to the fact that we have constructed sex as a dirty filthy act. 

Even when one is in a committed sexual relationship it is very important that masturbation continue to occur on a regular basis.  Whether it is an act we share with a partner or engage in by ourselves it encourages one to fantasize and explore personal limitations. 

Last night I wanted to find out whether or not it was possible for me to achieve an orgasm without touching my vagina.  I played with my breasts and let my mind go.  Until this moment I really bought into the idea that even though the brain is the largest sexual organ, that my vagina was central to my sexual urges and desires.  I learned that my whole body is and can be an erogenous zone. There is no shame in this activity, and instead  I view it as another step in the journey of self discovery.

What have you learned about yourself through masturbation and how does this knowledge empower you?  When was the first/last time you masturbated.  As women these are conversations we need to have openly if female sexuality is ever going to move beyond the virgin/whore dichotomy to one that affirms it as a positive expression of self love.