by Shubhangi Thakur
I think I was really young when I first saw a man masturbating in broad daylight. Young enough to not know what he was doing. The visuals were disturbing just like every unsolicited dick picture that slides into my DMs but I moved on. However, I can’t put my finger on a moment when I actually learned about it or when someone sat down to tell me about it. But I do recall the feelings of guilt I associated with the act of masturbation initially. It stemmed from this really big sense that it was maybe something I wasn’t allowed to do or definitely something people shouldn’t know about me.
I think I’ve been a late bloomer in terms of masturbating, thanks to zero sex education and poor sexual curiosity. (I also very strongly feel that sex education is more than just using condoms for sex)
It was when one of my female friends casually brought it up in conversation and “I was too shy to admit I had never done it” that got me thinking down the spiral of owning my self-pleasure.
I wish the idea of masturbating wasn’t so taboo for us women and I had explored my self-pleasure earlier. Oddly enough, it took a boy to tell me that women could masturbate, and then Google to tell me how.
Why are we so coy about self-pleasure? Why is self-pleasure relegated to an innate sense of shame and embarrassment, or horror?
I never had an open conversation about masturbation in school and it kind of bothers me in retrospect about the conversational limit that we women put on ourselves and our sexuality. It was largely and liberally related to corny jokes among boys. No wonder there is still a glaring discrepancy in the way male and female masturbation is cited in mainstream conversation today.
Even to this day, it’s uncanny how my female friends would be open to confessing about masturbating in one on one conversations with me but somehow the openness of talking about it in a group seemed uncouth or simply not worthy enough. The secrecy around masturbating and female pleasure is something that revolves around a lot of female friend groups. It’s the sanctimonious characteristics that we attach to being a “girl” that associate female pleasure to moral transgression. It sets the tone for the character assassination of a woman who’s self-assured of her sexuality and is able to talk about it without any apprehensions.
Masturbation is always critiqued with an air of deep-rooted misogyny in which a woman who plucks up the courage to touch and pleasure herself is deemed and labelled as very unladylike and inviting labels to be called ‘ slut or a whore’
Breaking the cultural conditioning and the stigma attached to female masturbation is exactly what we need to do to help the young girls stumbling out of their puberty who are mortified of touching themselves because of futile societal threats.
There is always an extreme abashment attributed to something as natural as sexual desire and pleasure, which for us Indian women is just limited to a social obligation of procreation. We are persistently taught to think of ourselves as objects of sexual pleasure rather than delegates of it.
I fail to understand how female masturbation can arouse any moral panic in our society — It isn’t shameful to want to learn and explore our own bodies. The moral panic very well delineates the patriarchal roots that frame the need to curb female desire. Is taming us into sexual austerity just another way to control us?
I feel the most intimate relationship is the one you have with your body and it’s very important to know what you like and how you like it otherwise you’ll be dependent on your partner to figure it out, which isn’t fair, to be honest.
Taking control of my sexual pleasure makes me feel empowered. Gaining control makes me feel complete — I don’t depend on anyone else to achieve an orgasm. Whether or not you have a sexual partner, your orgasms are always important for your sense of self.
Trust me, ladies, you have to take your pleasure into your own hands.
I’m not here to tell you how healthy masturbation is, google can do that. I’m here to tell you it makes me feel empowered and it is something you can and you should talk about in a room full of people.