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Breaking Down the Stigma Surrounding Women's Masturbation

Graphic by Elisa Castillo

Masturbation: a word that society has deemed as a “taboo” topic that shall not be named or spoken of.

At Shifter, we’re all about normalizing the discussion of masturbation to end the stigma behind it. Trust me, there is a lot to break down.

First, it’s important to note that not everyone experiences sexual pleasure. Pleasure is different for everyone; some individuals prefer to find pleasure in things that don’t involve sex and that is okay!

It's also important to include all genders and sexualities when talking about sex and masturbation. However, for this discussion, we’ll be focusing on individuals that identify as women.

According to a national research study, about 8.2% of men and 21.8% of women reported having never masturbated in their lifetime. The difference in numbers creates this notion that masturbation is a “guy thing” and that women don’t participate in solo sexual satisfaction.

It’s a stigma that falls in the stereotype that a woman’s sexuality should be repressed until it’s somehow awoken by a “man.” This statement is not only misogynistic, but homophobic in the sense that sexuality is fluid and is different for everyone.

Photo by Diana Caballero

Another stigma is that masturbation makes a woman more “promiscuous” as the practice of self-pleasure is often seen as “filthy.” This idea is rooted in the minds of many individuals who may come from religious backgrounds.

According to Karen Beale, an associate professor of psychology at Maryville College who studies the relationship between religion, sex and guilt, some religions consider masturbation to be a sin that should be forbidden, which leads people who practice religion to feel shame after masturbating.

To recover from the shame and guilt of acting upon self-pleasure, you have to identify the source of the shame and deconstruct it.

“Question its intention and relevance, overlay these ideas against what you believe and know to be true for you today, then determine the original purpose of those shameful ideas,” Dr. Laura Deitsch, who helps guide people on their sexual journeys, told Hello Giggles.

Once you are more comfortable with the idea of masturbation, you can learn more about your body and discover the many benefits behind self-love.

A few of the benefits include relieving stress as masturbation releases oxytocin which is known to be an anti-stress hormone. This allows your body to relax and helps you sleep more easily which is another benefit.

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Overall, masturbation is not a bad word nor is it a bad thing. The benefits of masturbating are far greater than the stigma behind it. So treat yourself as there is nothing shameful about a little self-love.

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