Ask Professor Foxy: I Masturbated, Is There Something Wrong With Me?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.
Dear Professor Foxy,
I am a sixteen-year-old girl who knows very, very little about anything sexual. Up until recently, I thought sex was just plain gross. Not morally wrong or anything, just gross. I’ve stopped thinking of it that way now, and have thought about it more seriously. I still find it all very awkward, though, so, I’m sorry for the weirdness of my letter. I’m just really confused and in need of help.
Today, I had what I think is my first experience with masturbation. It felt… odd, but good. Afterwards, I felt good for a few minutes, but then I started thinking that maybe what I did was wrong. My parents were never very open about sex- I’ve learned everything I know on my own- and they aren’t deeply religious or anything. Aside from the regular “YOU WILL GET PREGNANT” speeches, they haven’t ever said that sex or masturbation wrong. I don’t have any moral or religious qualms against it, either. I still feel like what I did was wrong somehow, though, and now I’m kind of scared to do it again. I’m scared I’ll do it accidentally. I’m scared what I felt wasn’t pleasure, it was pain.
I guess, I’m just confused. I don’t understand why I feel so guilty, and why I’m afraid that it will hurt next time. It might be ignorance I also remembering reading something about bleeding because of masturbation- can that happen just by muscle-clenching, or only with penetration (Which I didn’t use)? Are there any websites where I can find more information masturbation? Can it be painful, or am I just being neurotic?
Thanks for reading,
Awkward and Scared

Hey Awkward –
There are no absolutes in this world, but there are close to absolutes and here is one: many, many people (especially women) are uncomfortable about sex and masturbation when they are 16. Many people are uncomfortable with these topics their entire lives. You are normal.
Sex can be gross and awkward. Eventually, people who are comfortable with sex find these things to be funny. Bodies make weird noises, release odors, and many sexual positions can be a tad bit ridiculous. Laughing during sex is a wonderful thing to do.
First consensual sexual experiences, with ourselves or with partners, often feel odd, but good. Our bodies respond with excitement and, often, our minds shut down and focus solely on the body. When the mind kicks back in afterwards, judgment can ensue. “Why did I do that? Was that normal? Omigod, I should not have touched myself.”
Masturbation is normal – for every gender. Masturbation is healthy. It is stress release, it is learning what feels good for your body, and it is learning to be comfortable with your body. If you have sexual experiences with a partner, masturbation will likely make you a better lover because you will actually know your pleasure places and how your body feels.
It is hard to block out the messages that society sends us (men are uncontrollable horny fools and women are chaste and sweet or they are unredeemable whores), but part of maturing can be blocking these messages and listening to ourselves. Listen to your body and when you are done masturbating, tell yourself how good it was. If you bleed during masturbation, it is likely not a big deal. It can be for numerous reasons: you may have been about to get your period and the orgasm caused some blood to be released, your nail may have been jagged and got caught. Penetration makes this more likely and, again, completely normal.
I very, very rarely tell personal stories in my column, but I think your question warrants one. When I was 16, I went to an all girl, Catholic high school and we talked about sex all the time, especially around the lunch table eating Kahlua cake. One day at lunch, masturbation came up and the table went silent. We all knew our guy friends did it; they talked about it constantly, but to admit as a woman/girl that you would touch yourself????? Finally, someone (it may have been me, Kahlua cake is quite strong) said, “well, I masturbate.” One after another, my friends – some experienced, some not – said “me too!” All at once, this freaky, shame-filled experience was normalized and I still remember it 15 years later. It is normal, you are normal.
Here are some articles on great web sites that discuss masturbation: Scarleteen and two wonderful ones on Sex Etc. The first is about masturbation and health and the second on women being pro-masturbation. I hope you enjoy them.
Professor Foxy
P.S. Thanks to Hilary for the courage in the Kahlua cake.
If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

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