A Touch Taboo
September 16, 2004 4:46 PM
A date with Rosie. Enjoying a little southern comfort. Airing the orchid. That is what some people call it, but most women are too embarrassed to admit they do it, let alone come up with nicknames. There is anxiety linked to the question: do you masturbate? Within a group, a nervous glance shoots around before any one woman will say yes, because the automatic and expected answer is no.
Statistics show that about 80 percent of women masturbate, but where are these women? There are mixed opinions as to why this is such a taboo act and topic. Some reasons given for this anxiety are as simple as it being embarrassing, to the very deep sociopolitical workings of our society.
“Men are looked at as horny, but for a woman it is out of the ordinary. Women are supposed to be able to say no,” said Emily Klein, 24, a SF State student. Many resources on the subject concur, despite the sexual revolution of the 70s, women are still thought of as being less sexual than their male counterparts.
“We are led to believe that women think about sex and desire sex much less. Society creates outcasts of women who are open sexually. Many women are ashamed to admit they are horny,” said an article on Sexinfo101.com, a Web site dedicated to toys, information, and resources on all aspects of sex.
This common view of women’s sexuality makes sense of why so many women are embarrassed by the mention of self-pleasure. If you are the only one in the group that is feeling this ‘unnatural’ urge, of course there is unease related to the topic.
Women’s Studies professor Jillian Sandell notes that this unease is not unwarranted. Women’s sexuality has not only been restricted by clothing and moral chastisement, but also medically through clitoridectomies, which create a negative context that carries on today.
“It stems from double standards on female and male sex. Within culture, men have ‘inherent, dominant’ sexual desire, a ‘need’ for lots of sex as often as possible. So it is expected and accepted, necessary and unavoidable,” said Marsha Johnson, 22, SF State student. “Conventionally for women, sex isn’t just physical. It's supposed to be with love and a relationship, so masturbation is unnecessary.”
This is another familiar ideology; women are not sexual unless there is a relationship, or if they are in love. This common misconception creates false ideas that masturbation is nothing more than a flash in the pan thing, when for women it can be a much more educative experience. The female orgasm is hard to come by, and more often than not women cannot attain an orgasm through sex. According to many experts, by masturbating women are not only more likely to have an orgasm, but much more likely to show their partners how to give them one.
“If you have a partner, it is believed that your sexual activities with them should fulfill all your needs. While a nice ideal, in real life, a lot of women’s sexual needs are not met fully by their partner, no matter how good and loving a partner they have,” Sexinfo101
As it is commonly seen in movies and television, women are not supposed to be blatant about sex. If they are, they are portrayed as the hyper-sex-drive woman who just can’t get enough, while if they were male that would be normal.
“Society, parents, and religion are the most common causes of these issues as it has always been implied that there was something wrong with female sexuality,” said Abby of Abby’s Sexual Health Web site.
The deep-seeded sociological explanations may be a little heavy, but claiming the anxiety around female masturbation is due to simple peer pressure is perhaps too simple as well. While the jury is still out on this touchy issue, put your feelers out and see what rubs you the right way.
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