Jacking, Jilling, whacking, or fingering. No matter what you call it, masturbation is the most accessible form of sexual expression. But, thanks to a strict sexual dichotomy it seems that for every pleasure there is often an equal and opposite sense of guilt.
In a recent study reported in the Journal of Sex Research, 20 heterosexual, teenage (16-18) girls from a school in the south of England were asked about what discussions, if any, they have had with their parents about sex and relationships, their relationship histories, attitudes about their own body and masturbation, attitudes about safer sex, feelings of control in sexual situations, and other related issues. Responses ranged from extremely negative to extremely positive. Some girls felt that only boys should touch their genitals and even then it wasn’t pleasurable. Others had unsuccessfully attempted masturbation only to end up feeling dirty, bad, or guilty.
On a positive note, a few of the girls described the discovery of masturbation as being accompanied by feelings of “amazement,” a sense of release, and inner calmness afterward. Even with a positive attitude a few of these girls had struggled to overcome negative emotions associated with masturbation, however, what all these girls had in common was open communication with their parents. They reported being able to talk about all topics, not just sex, without embarrassment or discomfort.
Discussions of masturbation tend to be few and far between and this silence only contributes to sexual shame and feelings of disgust. If we are to move toward sexual health and happiness, it’s about time we began examining our attitudes toward masturbation.
You can start by considering these questions: What is your masturbation narrative? Do you find masturbation uncomfortable and uninteresting or rewarding and pleasurable? If you are a parent, what conversations are you having with your children about masturbation?
“Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving” by Betty Dodson
“I Am My Lover: Women Pleasure Themselves” edited by Joani Blank
“Third Base Ain’t What It Used To Be: What Your Kids are Learning About Sex Today - And How to Teach Them to be Sexually Healthy Adults” by Logan Levkoff