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Let’s talk masturbation.
Do you feel a little uncomfortable now? That’s okay – and you’re certainly not alone in feeling a bit uneasy with the topic.
But it’s high time women started normalising this conversation.
Among men, talking about masturbation is normal – mundane even. Jokes about wanking are told since childhood, and this all contributes to the idea that ‘men have needs’ while women are supposedly less sexual.
Ammanda Major, a sex therapist at Relate, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘For many women, talking together about masturbation still feels awkward.
‘This makes sense given the messages some of us are given from society and the fact it’s not normalised.
‘This is perhaps changing to an extent, but it would be helpful if women talked about masturbation much more.
‘Not only will this help us to let go of any shame around self-pleasure, it’s also a great way of sharing ideas.
How we talk about masturbation
Ammanda explains: ‘When men talk about wanking it’s often in a jokey way rather than sitting down and talking about what works for them.
‘It’s not the case for everyone of course but women will often connect about topics on a deeper level.
‘This can make us feel more vulnerable, especially if it’s about a topic which is about something particularly personal like masturbation.
‘Sex education has notoriously failed in the past to talk about the importance of pleasure.
‘There’s an old societal myth that women don’t or shouldn’t enjoy sex and sadly in 2022 we’re still experiencing the hangover from this.’
Aimee masturbates in season 2 (Picture: Netflix)
How can you start the conversation with friends?
Ammanda says: ‘There are plenty of ways you could start a conversation about masturbation. One could be to ask your friends what they do to relax.
‘You might all mention a few things like exercise, having a bath or watching TV.
‘If you feel comfortable you could also try something like “being completely honest, one of the many things I do to relax is have a really good wank”.
‘That’s the upfront version and obviously the way you actually put this would depend on your friendship group but you get the gist.
‘Hopefully this will spark up a conversation.
‘Another idea is to mention an article you’ve read on the topic.’
Slowly, female masturbation is becoming more normalised in culture, through iconic TV scenes such as Amy discovering self-pleasure in Sex Education and Fleabag busting one out while watching an Obama speech.
However, there is still work to be done.
Shyama, 34, has a fairly open group of friends, so masturbation has been a subject of discussion since their teenage years.
‘I think when the first time my girl friends and I discussed masturbation, it was me who raised the topic,’ she says.
‘Perhaps as a “confessional”, or perhaps to cause scandal.
‘Either way, I was curious to find out if other women in my circle were masturbating, or what they thought about it.
‘I barely had any sex education growing up, let alone one centred around masturbation.’
For many women, sex education has come in the form of TV shows – of which very few present female masturbation in a realistic and honest light.
Where to go if your friends don’t want to talk about it
Ammanda says: ‘Internet forums can be a good place to discuss these things.
‘You can even find threads about it on Mumsnet. You can also visit sites like OMGYES, which includes video content with real women talking about what turns them on and showing you how they masturbate.
‘If you’re feeling uncomfortable about sex or masturbation you could also consider seeing a sex therapist who can help to normalise conversations and will give you homework.’
Oloni, an ambassador for the sexual wellness brand Lovehoney says she talks about this with friends often.
She says: ‘It’s great to hear other women’s experiences of masturbation and to really get the message out that this is a normal and healthy way to enjoy sexual happiness.
‘What is important to me is relearning how to pleasure yourself outside your comfort zones.
‘Too often as women we learn how to experience an orgasm and stick to it when there are all sorts of exciting new ways to achieve pleasure through masturbation.’
When she uses her platforms to talk about masturbation, she gets lots of positive responses – highlighting how welcome this conversation is.
Oloni says: ‘Surveys show that men masturbate twice as much as women.
‘I think one of the reasons why they do it more is rooted in social expectations.
‘While for young men masturbation is seen as natural and healthy, I don’t think the same message comes through as clearly for young women.
‘It’s how you end up with really dangerous messaging about masturbation being unnatural and even shameful for women.
‘Women are rarely taught about their own pleasure when it comes to sex and this needs to change.’
Talking with friends is one way to start the change.
‘One trick is to maybe talk about your early masturbation experiences,’ she says.
‘This is a clever way to get more reticent friends to share their stories.
‘Another way is to share an embarrassing story. Most of us have been caught masturbating by a parent or a sibling.
‘Make that whole experience into a funny story and see if your friends have had similar experiences.’
The vast majority of us are doing it – so how is it serving us by keeping self-pleasure so secret?
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