Erasing the taboos around masturbation


It’s the fifth grade. I’m in Ms. Solferino’s class and I am fidgeting in my assigned seat. My stretchy pants, more than I’d like to admit, were pulled up too high. A perpetual state of camel toe. 

To deal with the early stages of anxiety, I would move back and forth in my seat. Then one day, oh my, that was a new sensation. Maybe a camel toe isn’t so bad. 

At the time, I didn’t tell my parents or any adult for that matter. It was my little secret to keep. I liked the way it made me feel, and feeling good is healthy, right?

But I didn’t have a word for this sensation until a year later when sex education became a part of our academic curriculum. We talked about anatomy, sex, safety and masturbation. Finally, I had a word for my solo sexual experiences: masturbation.

The more this act had a name and identity, the less taboo and shameful it felt. As time went on I explored more and used sites like for research into this improper world. I found there were a lot of myths I had to sift through in order to discover what masturabation meant to me. 

So let’s debunk some myths concerning masturation. 

Myth One

That masturbation is seen as wrong or shameful. Only those who are perverts participate in such an act. 

Science would suggest otherwise. Humans aren’t the only animals that masturbate. 

The article “Why So Many Animals Evolved to Masturabte” by Clara Moskowitz lists an array of animals that participate in “rubbing one out.” Porcupines, elephants, bonobo apes, dolphins, squirrels, turtles, walruses, various birds, horses, dogs, and cats can masturabate. 

How can something that many species participate in be disgusting? 

Myth Two 

That children and adolescents don’t masturbate. 

“Many people are alarmed to discover children self-stimulating, but it’s part of childhood to be normally interested in what happens to your body,” Bustle writer JR Thorpe said. “Playing with your genitals as a young kid is regarded as absolutely normal and healthy.”

Kids often stop masturbating or do so in secret because society makes them feel ashamed of a very natural process. 

“Previous research has shown that masturbation becomes more likely with increased education, greater frequency of sexual thoughts, sexual experimentation before puberty, and a larger number of lifetime sexual relationships,” author of “How Common Is Masturbation, Really?” Michael Castleman said. 

Planned Parenthood commented that it is not unusual for young children to masturbate as they explore their bodies. There is a whole section of their website dedicated to this topic called “Ask the Expert.” Here, lots of curious preteens, teennagers and parents can ask an array of questions concerning masturbation. 

Myth Three

Only single people masturbate. 

“Masturbation isn’t just required when a partner isn’t around to satisfy needs; it’s a healthy part of a lot of sexual life, and can produce responses that partner sex can’t,” Bustle writer JR Thorpe said. 

40% of men and 30% of women in relationships still masturbate, according to a Kinsey study. Mutual masturbation can also be a strong part of your sex life with your partner.

Masturbation isn’t for everyone. It’s totally normal to not to indulge in solo sex. It doesn’t appeal to everyone. Sex drive depends on the person not the sex or gender. 

If you do masturabate or contemplate doing so, it’s a great way for you to become comfortable with your body, how it feels and what you like before your first time with a partner(s). Now, if you don’t partake in solo sex it doesn’t mean you’ll never know your body or be able to satisfy a your partner.

Myth Four

Women don’t like to masturbate or watch porn. From what we can gather from research data, women masturbate and the number may be rising with new and more open views on sex. 

“Stats on masturbation are hard to gather—because people don’t like talking about it—but in a recent survey, 50% of women aged between 25-29 said they’d masturbated in the last month,” Thorpe said. “The reality is probably more: another study found that 92% of adult respondents over 18 and under 30 said they’d masturbated recently and regularly.”

We need to also take into account that these statistics may not be including other sexualities, genders or races depending on demographics of data collected. Though this data does tell us that, unlike you may think, you are not alone in your self-gratification.

It’s not that women don’t enjoy porn but rather that porn has systematically over centuries been made for the straight, male gaze. So many different types of people are having sex, so shouldn’t porn include those varying genders and bodies? 

Porn is notoriously filled with simple storylines and graphic images, but many people might respond more to emotional relevance in what turns them on. This might be why fanfiction sites are hubs for written porn. 

Regardless of whether or not you masturbate, it is important that we start breaking down these damaging taboos. The No.1 thing to remember is that masturbation is healthy and normal for all genders on the spectrum.

Erin Holve can be reached at [email protected]