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Can We Start Talking To Kids About Female Masturbation, Please? No More Taboos!

Posted: September 19, 2016

How and when did you find out about female masturbation? Are you going to tell your daughter about it? Here is why you probably should.

Growing up in India, I had little exposure to sex education. Sex is a taboo subject and everyone shies away from talking about it. Masturbation, if ever mentioned, is only for males, and then too it is strongly discouraged. But women can masturbate too, and just like periods, isn’t this something we should discuss with our daughters?

Female masturbation is an unmentionable

When I was little, my mother admonished me, and my friends teased me, for sitting in a way that my panties showed while I wore a dress. So I soon learned that there was something shameful about genitals.

As early as the age of 9, sometimes, I would get sensations in my pubic region that were faintly pleasant but very confusing. It happened if I saw a scene on TV, about some sort of power play or dominance and not necessarily related to romance. I knew nothing about the connection between power and sex.

Later, accidentally, I discovered, clenching my thigh muscles caused a similar sensation. When I had an orgasm a few years later, I was shocked and thought my kidneys were melting. What else could result in such a queer sensation and copious discharge?

Since nothing bad actually happened, I tried it again, and again. But, since I had no idea what I was doing, except that it felt nice, there was always that nagging doubt that I may be doing some long term damage to my body. Somehow I could not bring myself to ask my parents about it.

Much later, when with my husband, I had an orgasm, I recognised the sensation and it was a Eureka! moment. I asked him what that was and when he explained, I was relieved about my kidneys. But I was also stunned.

My mom had talked to me about periods and had a biology professor friend of hers explain how sex works. My dad had even talked to my younger brother about masturbation. But nobody ever told me there was such a thing as female masturbation.

It seems like the Voldemort of the sex world in India. Nobody ever speaks of it.

I went to a girls’ convent school. After puberty, we all discussed periods and even indulged in sex related jokes which always caused giggling fits, but none of my friends ever mentioned female masturbation. My best friend went to a co-ed and even she was unaware of it. It seems like the Voldemort of the sex world in India. Nobody ever speaks of it.

We need to talk about it

I really wish someone had mentioned it to me. It would have spared me years of worry and guilt.

Besides, some kids discover masturbation, while they are still toddlers. Yes it is normal. According to this mom, sometimes an orgasm in a toddler looks like a seizure and can be quite traumatic for parents, but is still perfectly normal.

A friend discovered that her 4 year old was masturbating. Observing her carefully for some time, she figured out that it was triggered by stress, in this case when her infant sister cried inconsolably as a result of colic.

My friend handled it very well. She asked her daughter if masturbating made her feel better. And when she said it did, she asked her, what else made her feel better. Her daughter replied “Reading.” So my friend told her daughter “Next time you feel upset about your sisters colic, why don’t you try reading a book? You can masturbate too, but why not try other things as well?”

It basically boils down to sexism. How could women enjoy sex, and that too without a man?

We need to eliminate the taboo surrounding female masturbation. It basically boils down to sexism. How could women enjoy sex, and that too without a man?

Most patriarchal societies have tried to repress female sexuality mainly to ensure certainty about paternity. Some cultures go so far as to practice female genital mutilation to reduce sexual pleasure experienced by women making it more likely that they remain faithful. But today we accept that women enjoy sex and many like to flaunt their sexuality. So it is time we changed our attitude to female masturbation as well and talked about it more openly.

Talking to kids about female maturbation: tips for parents

  • Do not discourage your child from exploring his or her body.
  • If you catch your child masturbating at a young age age, don’t stop them and preferably don’t interrupt.
  • Later explain to them what they are doing, as far as possible, without guilt or embarrassment. Reassure them that it is normal and tell them how to indulge in it safely, privately and hygienically.
  • If it hasn’t come up by the time your child reaches puberty, then bring it up. If you are a single parent with a child of the opposite sex (or any parent for that matter), who finds it difficult to approach the subject with your child, you could give your child a book on the subject and tell them that they should feel free to come to you with any questions they might have and that you look forward to helping them with any sex related problems or questions they have.
  • When talking to sons about masturbation, be sure to mention that it is equally normal, common and acceptable for girls to masturbate.

Masturbation possibly has health benefits

Some studies and articles indicate that masturbation may have health benefits, primary of which is stress relief. During masturbation and orgasm, endorphins are released with serve as mood elevators. There is some speculation that masturbation helps with body aches, menstrual cramps and postmenopausal sex difficulties.

According to this article it boosts the immune system, helps prevent UTI and improves cervical health. Finally there are no negative side effects. There is a chance teens could get addicted to masturbating, but there are better chances of avoiding that, if parents openly talk to them about it.

Masturbation also helps a woman know her body and her sexual likes and dislikes better and can help improve her sex life and relationships.

This is in complete contradiction with all the superstition attached to masturbation, such as it could make you blind.

Attitudes are changing

However there is some hope and talking about female masturbation is indeed becoming gradually acceptable. This youtube video shows that there are a some youngsters who have a refreshingly open attitude towards masturbation. But these are still a small minority, as this other video proves.

Feminism has made significant progress over the years. Women today have far more freedom and confidence then ever before. But it is important to not let anyone make us feel ashamed of our sex and sexuality. We need to end the lies and taboo surrounding female masturbation.

Image source: shutterstock

Kanika G, a physicist by training and a mother of 2 girls, started writing to

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  1. Well said Kanika. Though as you yourself have expressed, that you may not be an expert, your simple and easy to understand language, and non-usage of camouflaging words, have hit the bulls eye on the topic. I liked the way you suggested that while explaining to the son, it is also important to inform him that girls also do it, which would help minimising the gender issues and also help him appreciate the sexual preferences of the opposite sex.
    Good topic and please write more.

  2. As always Kanika you have delivered an honest, intuitive, lucid and extremely valid post about a very important topic that is almost taboo in India. Thank you! Its so true -we women have been forced to pretend that our sexuality (and sexual pleasure) is non existent until society determines it is appropriate to be awakened-apparently only after marriage to please one’s spouse or to produce babies?! Or some other such nonsense I suspect is what we pretend and everyone fools themselves into believing. I too had good buddies as friends all my life and we discussed everything under the sun but not this…Its weird! However, I honestly cannot ever imagine discussing it with my very open minded parents who even spoke about contraception rather directly to us when we were about to be married!!! Well into our thirties and after being much married, we close friends began to tentatively discuss it (and its suspected benefits!) and we all realised that it wasn’t anything sinister or an individual affliction and many of our husbands seemed the least surprised that we had indulged in it too- just like they had since adolescence !!! I like that you have suggested how to approach the topic with our girls. Its a useful post. Have been wondering about this one too and you’ve read my mind and helped sort out some of the issues buzzing in my head. So thanks!

    • Thanks Sona, for reading and sharing your thoughts and experiences. I hesitated to write about this but then I thought I cant expect other people to open up about it, if I wont.

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