Female Masturbation: Pros and Cons of No Discussion

The Pros and Cons of Not Discussing Female Masturbation


As most of you are probably aware, or will notice once I point it out, male masturbation is discussed quite a bit more (a LOT more) than female masturbation.  I could go in to why, and I probably will in some later post, but my focus is some effects this lack of discussion may have.  The possible positive and negative results in people’s, mostly females, lives.  I want to start out by saying that no matter what pros I list I do not believe that not discussing female masturbation* should continue.  The benefits of women being well informed about their bodies and the benefits of female masturbation are huge.  The pros of silence are only when being compared to negative and vilifying discussions of any sort of masturbation, male or female.

As for negative discussions of masturbation I would like to direct your attention to how people discuss male masturbation. It is certainly not something that is celebrated. It is generally referred to as something dirty and shameful.  I do not know how boys and men discuss it amongst themselves, but on television and in mixed gender groups it is often mocked.  It is something a lonely, pathetic and often creepy man does.  Of course, I disagree totally (barring the times when it is actually a creeper, but those are certainly rare and extreme cases).  Again, I do not know how young boys take this negative portrayal, but I am certain it cannot help.**

Now, I would like to point out that since female masturbation is not often or openly discussed it cannot be given this negative feeling directly.  I believe that the negativity has to be guessed at.  You have to figure that since it is not discussed it must be bad.  There is a chance, and I hope it happens with descent frequency, that this void of information is filled in positively (especially with the more and more positive portrayal of sex in movies and television).  A girl is given the chance to explore this aspect of herself (if she thinks to).  She is able to figure out that she enjoys it and there are no apparent negative effects.  This was certainly my experience.  We did not discuss sex.  It just never came up.   So all I had to go on was that the Catholic Church generally frowned on masturbation and sex.  I did not really take that, along with a lot of what they said, as certain truth.  Though, I will admit, that in my teen years as my eye sight got worse I did wonder.  Anyway, this gave me the chance to explore for myself with minimal negative influence.  Of course, the internet gives an excellent and thorough, if dangerously unguided, sex talk, even when your first tutors are dirty Harry Potter fanfictions.

Now we move on to the cons.  The biggest problem with this lack of discussion is the fact that people know so little about female masturbation, pleasure and even anatomy.  I knew girls in college who only knew the general inner workings of their reproductive system.  They did not know what or where the clitoris or labia majora or minora were.  Sometimes they had never even heard the words before!  And most surprising, and upsetting, to me is that some people still believe that the female orgasm is a myth.  And some of those people are women.

I was at a talk for I Love Female Orgasm (an amazing book) and after splitting up into male and female groups we discussed our first masturbations and/or orgasms.  Most of the stories are what you would expect.  They started in somewhere in their pre to mid teens.  Some of them were as early as elementary school.  One woman said she rubbed up against the monkey bars when she was 9.  There were a few, though, that did not have their first orgasms until they were middle-aged.  Generally well into, or after, their marriages.  The impression from the stories was not that these women chose not to have orgasms.  They were not super religious and it was not that they did not care.  They either did not realize it was possible or just did not know how.  That is a problem that talking about female masturbation would go a long way to fix.  Luckily the books are out there.  But no one will go look for them if they do not even consider the possibility!

Possibly more important is that along with the lack of female masturbation discussion goes the lack of any discussion of female genitalia at all.  Like I said before, there plenty of women who do not know what the most basic parts of their outer genitalia are.  This is sad on the level of just being unfamiliar with your body, but it can also dangerous.  If you do not know what your genitalia look is “supposed”*** to look like how can you know if something is wrong?  If you never look, how can you know if you have a questionable mole?  How can you know if you are healthy if you do not know what healthy is?  Like the women who think their genitalia smells bad and just throw some deodorant on there like it is an over active armpit.  That is just not how it works and women and girls are just not taught that.

To be perfectly blunt, masturbation is normal.  It is healthy (though if you aren’t interested in it that does not mean you are not healthy or normal).  Why can we discuss other natural bodily functions, like hunger or hair loss, but not masturbation?  The discomfort we have for what is between our legs, especially a woman’s, is absurd.  It has been well established that ignorance is in fact not bliss, so why fool ourselves that it is here?



* Yes I will be using this term as much as possible in the post because I think it causes a certain level of discomfort.  I believe that people have been taught, at some level, to believe that this is something you just do not discuss.  I know a lot of your reading this may be amongst the exceptions, since I know you and you are very raunchy folks.

**Any of you men who want to share are more than welcome to!  The effects negative, or positive, discussions of masturbation have one young men is a very interesting topic.

**There is a lot of variety in genitalia.  The benefit of going to a competent (non-judgemental as well as properly educated) gynecologist is knowing that any “abnormalities” you may have are just normal variation.



About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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4 Responses to Female Masturbation: Pros and Cons of No Discussion

  1. Debi says:

    I’m in this post somewhere… 🙂

    I think one of the differences in the discussions is that male masturbation is not viewed as dirty/shameful/creepy, as you imply, but more as part of what guys just do. They get aroused, take care of it, now let’s go watch football. For females, there’s a blind spot around the area of women even getting aroused, much less wanting/needing to take care of it themselves.

    • lyricopal says:

      I don’t know. It seems like it is mocked and it is often implied that they can’t control themselves. I will admit that it has the air of “they just do it”, but it isn’t in a positive or even neutral way. I mean, which would you be more uncomfortable with? Or better yet, which could you see being the butt of a joke on a sitcom? Walking in on a man masturbating or taking a crap?

  2. Derrick Hinkle says:

    As a guy, I will definitely say that the portrayal of male masturbation that I’ve seen has always been neutral to positive, even in an Abrahamic religious context.

    Female masturbation has, on the other hand, always been considered lewd, base, and wrong.

    It very much typifies the patriachial belief of our culture, in that women are only supposed to be pleased by men, not themselves or other women. This is especially true in movies, as movies featuring females masturbating often find themselves getting slapped with heavy ratings when compared to films with men masturbating, (See “This film is not yet rated”).

    Knowledge in all things, especially sex and our bodies, is extremely important. It’s a lack of information which leads in many cases to some fairly terrible and horrible practices, such as female genitalia mutilation, either inflicted by others due to culture or by oneself, due to perceived differences between “is” and “should be”.

  3. steve says:

    Tori, just briefly, in my view male masturbation is a routinely easy target for stand-up comedians, moralists and the simply malicious and, on the level of the public arena, the effect is to create an aura of cheap laughs, stigma and ridicule. This of course is very discomforting to say the least for any young man – and pretty wearisome too for older men!

    I’m not aware that female masturbation is targeted in anything like the same way – on the contrary it is celebrated in erotica as a high expression of sensuality and, amongst my friends at least, more openly and warmly discussed than male masturbation. I can’t agree with either Debi or Derrick – or maybe I should simply say my experience is very different.

    But while the avoidance of discussion of any aspect of female sexuality is lamentable I have the feeling that dialogue is increasing and gradually we are all learning to be more open and accepting of our common humanity.

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