Why is there so little female masturbation in literature?

female masturbation in literature

Well, it’s about time this happened. To be honest, with a blog name like The Eggplant Emoji, it’s a wonder it hasn’t happened already. Yep, I’m about to get X-rated. Oh do stop clutching your pearls, Granny, we all do it. That’s right, today I’m talking masturbation. Specifically, why there isn’t more female masturbation in literature.

For some reason, the idea of women getting themselves off is something we’ve all agreed never to talk about. Men havin’ a wank is just a bit of a laugh, but the mere mention of women masturbating is terribly uncouth. It’s so hushed-up, in fact, that I was a fully-grown adult before I realised that I wasn’t a sex-obsessed freak for doing it. And it’s not like I was a private person: I went to an all-girls boarding school for seven years, and spent many a night sharing secrets at midnight—but not once did any of us feel comfortable admitting that we masturbated. One drunken night after leaving school, the cat was finally let out of the bag: we all did it. And we had all thought it was our single most shameful secret. 

So why did nobody tell us that what we were doing was normal? And failing that, why was it never mentioned in any of the books we read? We certainly spent enough time giggling over passages that described men choking the ole chicken—but it was rarely presented to us as something that we were allowed to do. Female masturbation in literature, particularly YA literature, just didn’t seem to exist.

Of course, Judy Blume was one of the rare exceptions.

“I have this special place and when I rub it I get a very nice feeling. I don’t know what it’s called or if anyone else has it but when I have trouble falling asleep, touching my special place helps a lot.”

– Deenie by Judy Blume

This is one of the only references to female masturbation that I read in my childhood, and even then, I remember being very unsure if she was talking about the same “special place” that I had. I knew that mine was naughty, so eventually I concluded that Deenie must be talking about something far more innocent. Because that’s the thing: when you read about masturbation in Judy Blume’s words, it is totally innocent. And not only is it harmless, it actively helps.

That’s why I was so excited to discover the company Smile Makers, whose mission is to “normalise sexual wellbeing products”. On their website, they describe talking to thousands of women, who said that masturbation made them feel healthier, happier and more beautiful. And doctors agree: pleasure really does help your overall wellbeing. So turning masturbation into a taboo for women is basically like making women ashamed of using face wash or shower gel. In other words, really dumb. And Smile Makers get that, which is why their vibrators are now being sold in Superdrug, as just another important part of your daily health and beauty care. How cool is that?

Smile Maker vibrators, which go at £29.99 each, are discreet, colourful, and 100% phthalate-free. Every ingredient is totally safe for your body, so you can feel confident getting up close and personal.

There are four different products: the Frenchman, the Fireman, the Tennis Coach and the Millionaire. I do have mixed feelings on the names: I would have liked to have seen female masturbation embraced wholly in its own right, whereas these names keep men firmly part of the equation; on the other hand, I do like that the names allow women to explore their own fantasies (albeit pretty exclusively heterosexual ones).

And yes, I’ve tried them out—and yes, they really will bring a smile to your face. Oh stop blushing! Remember, the more we talk about female masturbation, in literature or otherwise, the less ashamed women will have to feel of embracing this healthy and natural part of our wellbeing. My lovely friend Grace wrote a fantastic piece last month called Girls Just Want To Have Fun, which you should definitely check out—and then write your own!


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