Real Issues Sex & Relationships

Why you shouldn’t be embarrassed about masturbating

"It's just something that everyone does"

Credit: Unsplash - The Growing Up Guide

When I first heard the word ‘masturbate’ on the TV, I asked my mum what it meant (I know, the innocence). She told me it was just something that everyone does. It is a comfort thing that you do when you’re by yourself. That was it, I didn’t really understand what she meant, but I didn’t want to ask any more questions.

Fast forward a bit, I was in my first year of secondary school where the boys openly discussed ‘wanking’. I had no idea what they were on about until an older friend gruesomely explained it to me along with some other questions I was too afraid to Google: (What is a handjob? Why do the boys keep talking about that at school? And a blowjob? That’s something you get done at the hairdresser right?). Luckily my older friend explained these things to me, to my naive disgusted reply of ‘ew I’d never do that’. Amongst this teenage disgust at boys and what they did, ‘wanking’ was associated with the grossness of boys. I didn’t even contemplate that women did that? Women aren’t gross.

One day, a boy in my year was surrounded by a crowd of boys, all watching a video of a woman masturbating on a cracked iPod touch. Not knowing what they were watching, and intrigued, I went over to have a look. A few milliseconds later I decided I didn’t want to watch that with a load of smelly 13-year-old boys, and whilst I walked away I heard a boy remark ‘Wow that bitch is dirty’. My first acknowledgement of other women masturbating and it was totally negative, something that was clearly ‘hot’ but surrounded by negativity and filth.

With all the teenage hormones, masturbating was natural, but there was a guilt surrounding it – this isn’t something girls do, this is disgusting, I’m being like the gross boys that talked about ‘danger wanks’ and somehow managed to bring up the rumour that people actually played soggy biscuit at a sleepover (Still convinced this is not a thing). When I was in college, a friend asked me if I’d had ever tried this *alone time* thing, so I replied honestly and she said ‘Oh thank goodness, so have I’ and we had an honest, private conversation about it. I felt relieved. It wasn’t just me. There were other women who did it too!!

In hindsight, it seems ridiculous that I would’ve thought I was alone in this. But really it isn’t hard to believe, in school and as a teenager, all you know is what is around you and what you’re told, and if no one talks about it, it doesn’t happen right?

On my first night in Freshers, someone I lived with suggested playing ‘never have I ever’. The girls speedily eyed up who else was drinking before sipping at their vodka and Fanta to assess who ‘never have I ever masturbated’. Every single person in the room (twelve of us) drank. Now at university, my female friends are as bluntly honest about ‘cracking one out’ just as much as the boys were when I was in secondary school. It isn’t a frequent conversation, but when someone has found a vibrator they like, they will recommend it to friends, and I think that is a brilliant relationship to have with your friends.

It is normal, just as my mum had told me when I didn’t even know what it was, everyone does it. As much as you don’t want to think about it, your parents, siblings, friends, grandparents have done it, your children will do it when they’re hormonal teenagers, so stop pretending women don’t masturbate. It is normal. It is part of understanding how your body works and it is a method of relaxation.

So let’s not be embarrassed. I’m not suggesting shouting it from the rooftops, but let’s not shy away from a natural thing and let’s stop being embarrassed and smash the taboo.

JOIN THE GROWN UP GANG ON TWITTER , INSTA AND FACEBOOK AND TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MASTURBATION

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