The Wednesday Weigh-in: Dirty Girl Masturbating Edition

photo of sleeping half-naked woman in chair with the caption Masturbation: It's not just for men you know

As a long-time masturbation enthusiast and firm believer that respect for autonomous female desire could actually, like, save the world, this article on Dirty Girl Ministries, which aims to cure women of masturbation and porn “addictions,” makes me so sad.

As others have said, a group that believes all “sexual thought” (yes, even that momentary flash of what you’d like to do to Ryan Gosling!) outside of marital intercourse is “dirty” seems to be doing little more than further pathologizing the natural human desires that these women have become convinced are shameful by our sex-negative culture.

Which is the real shame. Masturbation has provided the longest, most consistently-satisfying sexual relationship of my short life. From those first curious tinglings climbing up the sliding pole at the playground and the early years of well-worn stuff animals that moonlighted as “boyfriends,” it’s one that, like any good relationship, has continually evolved. Sure, it’s had its ups and downs. At times, seduced by the thrill of an actual human dude, I’ve been neglectful. At others, during seemingly interminable single spells, I’ve become bored (as people so often do) with such a familiar, sure thing. But, we’ve evolved–me, myself, and sometimes my vibrator–with an ever-exciting mix of new techniques, fantasies, locations, and the occasional onlooker. And after a dozen plus years, I’m still learning new things about myself, my body, and my desires–even when I don’t have a partner to explore them with.

And yet, apparently, the stigma around female masturbation persists–even as sexual taboos are broken all over the place. A recent study of U.S. teens found that while nearly three-quarters of boys reported having ever masturbated, less than half of girls did. That’s gotta change–and we can start by talking about it. So dish, Feministing. When did you start masturbating? Did you struggle with the stigma our culture attaches to it? What role has it played in your developing sexuality?

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard. Before become a full-time writer, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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