Alanis Morissette once sang ‘my brothers never went blind for what they did, but I may as well have’ which pretty much sums up some attitudes towards female masturbation. Men are sexual, it’s alright for them to spend hours locked away with little more than a box of kleenex and a bottle of lube to keep them company, but us? No ma’am. It’s hard to understand these views living in a society where Miley Cyris exists but still, for some female masturbation is as taboo as you can get. Movies like American Pie and Don Jon imply that male masturbation is as normal and healthy – something that men do to pass the time, to explore themselves, to get off, but us girls don’t get that courtesy. Instead, ‘one on one’ time for us is seen as something deviant, something that women who ‘can’t get a man’ have to resort to. Or worse, as an act to impress the boys. It’s bullshit.
Nancy Friday could argue that early man wanted to see women as the face of his salvation, as close to heaven. As a result of this, women needed to be pure, chaste and devoid of sexuality. It wasn’t the done thing for women to be sexually open minded or to expect pleasure or enjoyment from sex which might go some way to explain why female fun time was kept invisible. These ideas still knock about. Come on, a woman handling her own business is scary business; in a patriarchal society where the sexual needs of women have been trivialised and rendered almost obsolete, a woman pleasuring herself is scary stuff. Not needing a man to get her there must be terrifying for the men in charge.
Jenni Murray recently interviewed Tracey Emin for BBC 4’s Women’s Hour about the sexual nature of her work and when Emin asked Murray, “What, are you telling me you never masturbate?” Jenni’s response was an outraged, “Don’t even ask! How dare you?” Despite babes like Anna Kendricks saying she pictures Gosling when going south and Miley singing ‘adore you’ to herself, we still have these outdated vibes killing our buzz. We still have these massive barriers to overcome in terms of getting female masturbation struck from the ‘bad girls do’ list [ see also; tattoos, nipple piercings, kissing girls and liking it and eating burgers without a side of self loathing]
Is it to do with accessibility? Men have it all right in front of them, literal joy sticks begging to be played with whereas we have our goods neatly tucked away, safe and sound. In addition, we have the constructed/reinforced notions that women need an emotional connection to get it done, whereas men can get away with a more wham, bam thank you ma’am, just here for the pay off kind of attitude. It is expected that they actively seek out pleasure whereas us good girls should be just sitting at home, waiting to be married off into a lifetime of lying back and thinking of England.
When female masturbation is talked about or shown in the media, it’s usually depicted as little more than male titillation. Done to impress men, clits rubbed raw, loud exaggerated moans. Girls in music videos grinding against poles, red lips parted in ecstasy. Backs arched, breasts out – it’s very much from the male gaze and done to excite and tease, for the pleasure of the men watching rather than women playing. There seems to be little ‘real’ about it. Unless I’m doing it wrong.
Is it to do with the way in which men and women orgasm? The female O is seen as elusive as the holy grail, with great swathes of material dedicated to helping hapless men get their bed buddies to toe tingling heaven, tips and tricks to make your girl orgasm articles in men’s mags implying that it’s a challenge. (I think that a lot of the reasons behind the female O no show can be attributed to societal expectations that as women, we don’t ‘need’ to enjoy sex, we don’t ‘need’ to orgasm necessarily for sex to serve it’s purpose and so patriarchy and male privilege have combined to downplay the importance – perhaps in order to ensure they get their ends away with little fuss or effort?) There is this idea that to make a woman orgasm is somehow harder than scaling Everest. Now, I know that for some people it’s bloody hard getting there BUT I really do think that a lot of it is to do with our reluctance to speak up and say ‘left a bit’ or ‘that’s just not doing it for me, try this.’ We feel that we should be grateful for any guy being prepared to spend some time down-town so don’t want to rock the boat by appearing churlish.
I think that knowing what turns your body inside out can only make sex a deux better – you will feel more confident and in tune with what you want. It’s not greedy to want sex to offer a pay off – it’s time invested. If you are willing to get full frontal with someone, why should you worry about letting them know what it takes to get you moaning? And if you need some inspiration, think of Ricki Hall…