Written by Markyse
We continue to put gender labels on boys and girls. Boys are to wear blue, girls wear pink, boys don’t cry, girls are emotional. And so on. We spent countless hours labelling and passing judgments on what boys should do versus what girls should do.
I was getting my 19-month-old niece ready for bed. As I changed her diaper, she reached out to touch herself in the genitals. I push her hands away. I said to her, “that’s nasty baby, yucky”. Later that week, I went to change her diaper. She pushed my hands away, calling out, “yucky”. In that moment, I realized I have done the one thing I say I would never do. I put her in the societal box, “girls don’t touch themselves”. The last thing I wanted was to have this beautify little girl who will grow up to be a wonderful women someday to refer to her vagina as “yucky”. I tried to explain to her she was beautiful and that her touching herself at 19 months old is not a bad thing.
Realizing what I have done, I called one of my friends who had a son around her age and asked if he was touching himself as well. She reported he was. She explains he masturbates all the time. So much so that they give him time to pleasure himself. And that they walk away to give him privacy.
As a medical professional, I took psychology in school, I learned about babies masturbating and the need to please themselves and that this was a natural thing to do. As reported by Leibel, 2021, … many studies concluded masturbation is a healthy aspect of human functioning (Kontula & Haavio-Mannila, 2002). Yet, society continues to judge masturbation as a “bad thing”, especially for girls. “Female masturbation, in particular, is subject to harsh social criticism and experiences elevated levels of conceived social unacceptability… female masturbation is demonized within society to such a degree that it is often perceived as inherently unworthy of discussion or consideration” (Leibel, 2021)
When we enter our teenage years, boys are encouraged to masturbate. After all, boys have wet dreams, and wake up with an erection, so its ok for them to masturbate. Meanwhile, if you were to ask a high school age girl what an orgasm is or to locate their clitoris, most would not be able to answer that question. Masturbation is defined as an “… Expression of sexual outlet related to the beginning of sexual development, it is also called an orgasmic experience” (Ramadan & Gaafer, 2019).
The article assessment of knowledge and attitude of married women regarding masturbation risks, finds out of 334 married women questioned about masturbation on their knowledge on masturbation, more than half of them had poor knowledge about masturbation (Ramadan & Gaafer, 2019). Moreover, the study concluded these women also had a poor understanding of the risk associated with masturbation.
Do you think boys are encouraged to masturbate? And are females discourage to masturbate? And if that is the case, what are we saying about sexuality. Is sexual pleasure a men’s gain activity only? How would you address the above scenario?
Leibel, I. (2021). Discourses of Female Masturbation in Human Sexuality Textbooks. Student Research Proceedings, 6(1).
Ramadan, S., & Gaafer, H. A. Assessment of knowledge and attitude of married women regarding masturbation risks.