What isn't feminism saying about mastubation: Meh.

So, supposedly last month was not only May, but also National Masturbation Month. No one told me. So for me last month was more about Matt Damon and Liz Lemon than it was about masturbation. I don’t feel ripped off at all. Liz Lemon is the best.

In any case, Bitch magazine posted this on their blog today, asking readers to comment on what they feel is missing from the feminism and masturbation conversation. Which on one hand I appreciate, because, well, there’s a lot that’s missing, but on the other hand I feel like their, and really, feminism’s general presentation of masturbation has been so one-dimensional that this publishing of a few reader comments is insufficient. You know, like, unfinished…frustrated…left hanging…(heee! I made an innuendo! )

I’ve always gotten the impression from feminism and feminists that masturbation = liberation. Like you aren’t really an empowered woman, and you definitely aren’t a feminist, unless you’re really into masturbating. And as much as we’re all talking about masturbation, it doesn’t feel like we are actually talking about it. More like we are just saying the word over and over again. “Masturbating rules!” “Guess what! Girls masturbate!” “Hey! It’s May! Let’s Masturbate!”

As several of the commenters on Bitch’s blog said – these conversations are not only missing a lot of specifics: “ok….how?” but a lot of  peoples (“@krrryyyssstal – ‘That people with disabilities do it too!”). The conversations around masturbation, while certainly positive and encouraging are still lacking some very important voices and, I would add, candidness. One commenter got to some of it when she noted that what she thought what was missing from the conversation was:

“Feminists who are reticent to or don’t masturbate and/or use sex toys. I think there’s an expectation for feminists to be all sexually liberated and uninhibited, but sex is complicated, even when it’s solo. And masturbation isn’t intuitive for everyone, particularly those of us who have been victims of sexual abuse. I wish the conversation about feminism and masturbation was broader and made more room for complex and uncomfortable truths about sexuality.”

All true. Yes. And, as usual, I would like to add: What about me.

I get that part of masturbation is, obviously about sexual pleasure and enjoying your female body and that another part of it is that, well, men clearly feel so entitled to pleasure that they are encouraged to take it, from themselves, much more than women are. Because, I don’t know, I guess masturbating isn’t polite or something. So masturbating is certainly more political for women than it is for men.  I don’t think that men talk about masturbating with the same enthusiasm that feminists do. Probably because it is kind of old news. But how did we get from one end (female sexuality doesn’t exist/is bad) to the other (feminism says you must masturbate or you are oppressed) because you know what? I could care less about masturbating. I think it’s boring. I would rather drink wine and watch 30 Rock or you know, have sex! With a person! And I don’t think I am oppressed. I don’t even think I’m a prude. In fact, I consider myself to be fairly a-ok. I like my body, I like my sexuality. I feel like we are good friends. We know each other. I also feel like, within the feminist community, I can’t say what I’m really thinking about masturbation. Which is ‘meh’.

So knock me off the top ten list of good feminists (also knock me off for watching 3 hour long marathons of Sex & the City reruns every Friday night and enjoying myself profusely and then tearing a strip into the movie a few days later) because I’m just going to say it loud and proud: I don’t care about masturbating. BOOM. But y’all go ahead an knock yourselves out.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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