By: Amanda Vining, IATG ContributorAugust 7, 2016
A few months ago, I wrote an article about masturbating while in a relationship with another person. When I linked to the published article on my personal Facebook page, I expected to read a few negative comments from some of my more vocal Facebook “friends” (mostly acquaintances I haven’t seen in several years.) But what I didn't expect to hear was negative feedback from people in my inner circle, like my mother and even my boyfriend! What they were upset about was that I had chosen to speak about such a “personal” and “inappropriate” subject publicly. My mom was terrified that my article would embarrass her if seen by other family members and friends, and my boyfriend asked me to block his family from being able to view the post because he didn’t want for his parents, sister, or cousins to know that I talk about such a “crude” topic.
I was completely shocked and saddened by the negative reaction from those closest to me, so I called Liz over at I AM THAT GIRL headquarters and told her my dilemma. I confided in her that I stand by my work but felt discouraged after receiving my family’s reaction.
What ensued was a great conversation about why we need to talk about female masturbation.
In Hollywood films, popular culture, and colloquial conversations, male masturbation seems like fair game. I can’t even begin to count the number of television shows I’ve watched that have made jokes or comments about the male characters masturbating. But the same courtesy and dialogue isn’t extended to women and girls. That’s a problem.
I feel passionately about bringing attention to healthy female masturbation, but after my family’s unexpected reaction, I was nervous to talk about it again. It’s scary enough to talk about such an intimate topic, let alone be one of the only people willing to speak up about it publicly. I feel vulnerable and intimidated right now. I mean, receiving negative feedback is never enjoyable. But I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, so I’m not backing down. For starters, it’s safe sex that has great benefits, like stress reduction and helping your body increase blood flow. To me, that’s reason enough to talk about it! Instead of approaching female masturbation as a taboo or inappropriate topic, I’d like to help promote the positive role masturbation can serve in girls’ lives and be part of a movement to break down barriers that keep us from discussing it.
I’m scared, because I don’t want to hear more disapproving sentiments from those close to me, but I believe in this cause more than I fear negative remarks from my community. As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.” That’s exactly what I intend to do. I know that my family and friends love me, so I hope that they will support me. I hope that you will support me, too, and that together we can eliminate the stigma surrounding female masturbation and begin a conversation about healthy sex, ultimately getting to a place where female sexuality is celebrated instead of shushed. I believe that this conversation is worth it!
Have you ever had questions about masturbation but were too embarrassed or scared to ask? Well it’s time to change the stigma! Start a dialogue about masturbation this week with someone you trust and feel comfortable with! We think you’ll find that you’re not the only one who’s had questions!
Amanda lives in Austin, Texas, where she strives every day to be as BRAVE and BeautyFULL as she can be. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a self-designed degree in Children’s Rights, and Duke University with a certificate in Nonprofit Management. In her spare time, Amanda can be found scouring Pinterest for her latest craft project, drinking coconut mochas in her favorite coffee shop, and advocating for sexual violence prevention on her blog, Talk About Rape (www.talkaboutrape.com.)