Article by Vera Papisova /
Teen Vogue /
February 23, 2017 /
Click here to view original /
It’s time we lift the shame from one of America’s greatest taboos. Before modern science, masturbation was considered the root of nearly every unexplainable medical issue, including blindness, epilepsy, fainting spells, memory loss, and stunted growth in children. All of these claims were false, of course, but that kind of stigma is hard to shake.
When we asked women in their 20s what they wished their high school selves had understood about self-love, the most common answer was wanting to know that other girls were doing it too. With all the mixed messages floating around about what is and isn’t “normal,” such a private topic can be confusing to navigate — especially for young women and girls, who are often conditioned to believe that any kind of sexuality is unusual or unhealthy.
“On one hand, celebrities like Miley Cyrus feel comfortable talking positively about masturbation, yet it isn’t on the sex education curriculum in some school districts,” says sexuality and gender expert Lauren Rosewarne, Ph.D. “Women, apparently, aren’t supposed to be sexual, and so we don’t talk about female masturbation.”
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, conducted by researchers from the Center for Sexual Heath Promotion at Indiana University, which included U.S. teens, among those ages 14 to 17, 74 percent of boys and 48 percent of girls said they had masturbated. The survey, which polled 5,865 Americans, found a significant increase by the time we reach our 20s: About 72 percent of women and 84 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 29 said they had tried it themselves at least once in the past year.
Not only is there nothing wrong with self-pleasure, it’s actually good for you. It can help you fall asleep, relieve stress, and ease menstrual cramps. It has even been associated with having a better body image. Plus, unlike sex with a partner, masturbation puts you at much lower risk for STIs, it won’t lead to unintended pregnancy, and it’s a safe way to figure out what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
So when it comes to loving yourself and your body, pleasure isn’t just for fun—it’s a form of self-care, and you deserve to treat yourself.