Masturbation, Sex, and the Single Girl

Today, I would like to talk about female masturbation.  (Oh, goody!)  Why?  Well, I think there are some misconceptions out there, and I think it’s time that we talk about them, rather than leaving masturbation in this nebulous, sort of taboo, sort of appropriate but only in certain lights place.

I think that by now, the population at large knows that women masturbate.  The cat’s out of the bag on that one.  But there’s still a gender-based difference in how masturbation is referenced in popular culture.  Men, we assume, jerk off all the time.  They jerk off to porn, they jerk off when a woman doesn’t satisfy them, they jerk off at strip clubs and in bathroom stalls.  Etc., etc.  Women also masturbate, but it’s framed differently.  The idea seems to be that we do it as a journey of self-discovery: to learn how to have an orgasm, to learn how to have a better orgasm, to find the g-spot, to learn to have multiple orgasms, to explore the body, to prepare for sex.  It’s all about this magical, mystical, vaguely girl-power exploration.  Well I’m sorry, folks.  My vulva is not the Serengeti, and I’m not on a fucking safari.It’s true that culture has become more female sex-positive in some ways in recent years.  Vibrators and other sex toys come up a lot.  There’s a Sex in the City mentality that gives women the green light to talk about pleasure.  Sort of.  I find it interesting, though, that we’re so focused on the mechanical, man-made, masturbation-at-one-remove tools and pretty much ignore the fact that many women are happy just getting off with the five fingers G-d gave them.  Jokes about female masturbation seem to always revolve around the vibrator: “well, his dick sure doesn’t have six speeds,” etc.  I’ll just leave that hanging for a moment.

And then there’s the question of when and why we masturbate.  If masturbation is a tool to find something, an orgasm-discovery mechanism, a teaching tool, etc., then it’s pretty much the province of the single girl looking for partner sex in the future.  I think we have a tough time looking at masturbation as sex, the end, period, end of story.  The “discovery” or “learning” model teaches us that whatever we’re doing with our own bodies, there’s something wrong with it.  I remember being absolutely shocked after my first few awful sexual experiences that partner sex didn’t produce a mind-blowing, never-going-back-to-masturbation orgasm (or any orgasm at all).  What I’d learned as a child and as an adolescent was that masturbation was okay, but it was a stepping stool, a building block.  As a 24-year-old who has dabbled around in sex with both men and women, I’ve determined that the orgasm I can create with my index and middle finger is the orgasm, and guess what?  There’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a cool sort of power in masturbation.  You know what you’re doing, and you control the time, the place, the intensity, whether you come or not.  You can use it as a quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day, or as a sleep aid.  You can turn to masturbation when you have a sexy thought, and you can not bother entirely for weeks at a time if you’re not in the mood.  I think the idea that many women masturbate daily (or more!) is still a bit dangerous to society.  People expect that single women should be looking for sex (i.e., partner sex).  Even if we’re happily single, we should still have that little naughty craving for a bit of horizontal action.

I’m a single woman.  My last serious relationship ended 4+ years ago.  The last time I had partner sex was last summer.  And I have a happy, fulfilling sex life.  I’ve said this before to friends, and they think I’m a bit certifiable, or at least that I fall into a particular mold: sexually immature, a bit weird for being wrapped up in a fantasy life, a loner, a hermit, socially inept.  They suggest that I get out a bit more, meet new people.  I think this is a problem that a lot of single women confront.  Well, I encourage you to be brave and honest about your sex life.  If you don’t want partner sex, then good on you!  Celebrate your mastubatory habits.  If you like porn, erotica, toys, no toys, masturbation in the morning, before you go to sleep, fantasizing about stuff you would never do in real life… good!  Go with it.

I’m a firm believer that single women can be fulfilled in the exact same ways as women in relationships.  Who says that your best friend, your sexual partner, the person you do stuff with, the person you live with, all have to be the same person?  Sure, some people are happy in relationships, whether monogamous or polyamorous, open or closed, but that’s not the right thing for everyone at all times.  I think it can be enormously liberating to realize that you can get what you do from a relationship out of having great friends who aren’t afraid of physical affection, a career, activities, and yes, getting off whenever you damn well please.  We’re told over and over again that relationships aren’t the be-all and end-all, but I think it’s time that we start thinking about exactly how we can make our lives fulfilling as single women.  And I’m here to say that a healthy sex life can absolutely be part of that.  However you get off?  That’s the right way.

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9 Responses to Masturbation, Sex, and the Single Girl

  1. Lisa says:

    “However you get off? That’s the right way.”

    Eff yeah! Judith, I love how you articulate yourself!

  2. Oddly, this advice applies equally well to everyone. Both sexes would benefit greatly from being more satisfied with themselves than chasing after the next session of partner sex.

    • Oops! Remove the “oddly”, and my comment is as I meant it to be.

      • Judith says:

        Haha, no worries 🙂

        And you’re right, definitely. I think more about female sexuality on a day-to-day basis, but I would agree that the same applies to men. And there are certainly jokes about men and their right hands that can make masturbation a similarly taboo subject (or something to laugh at, as a signal that someone isn’t having partner sex).

      • Mary says:

        Definitely! Not ‘odd’ at all! 🙂

  3. Bex says:

    Huh, interesting, Maybe hookup culture is a reaction to sexual repression? Perhaps we should be more open with youth about respecting/pleasuring oneself before seeking a partner to share it with

  4. Val says:

    Interesting thought, Bex.

  5. Mary says:

    This is a great article that applies to my frame of mind: feminist perspective is needed in so many undiscussed aspects of our lives. The association we have with female masterbation is as a partner-lacking activity, its not seen as a means of its own end. Therefore female sexual gratification is really only validated by the presence of a male partner. Which assumes heteronormativity and a male-centered relationship that disempowers a woman even when she’s alone at home minding her own business! Great post!

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