In this article, and just generally in life, I’m of the pro-mazz stance. I consider it a healthy aspect of my sexual practice, something that has helped shape my understanding of my own sexuality; something I do alone and sometimes something I do with a partner. It makes me feel good and I do it on the regs, basically. From a personal health perspective, I think it’s good to get to know yourself down there, and from a sexual health perspective, I think it’s good to know what gets you off.
I think this side of the conversation is normalised, to an extent. I discuss it with my friends and I’m sure a lot of women do – my mum discussed it with me as a teen and I think it was even briefly flagged in my less-than-impressive sex education in high school. Teen magazines such as Dolly and Cosmopolitan also discuss masturbation in their sealed sections, providing young women with the basic knowledge that no, they’re not about to be ostracised from the community for this sexual depravity; in fact, it’s pretty normal.
Contemporary academic discourse on female masturbation, however, is rife with opposing theories. Many feminists herald the practice as sexually empowering – an act that gives an individual autonomy over their own body and sexual needs. An opposing, more radical theory argues that the dildo is a phallic symbol, attached with the heteronormative power dynamics of patriarchy and shaping the individual’s desire around a phallocentric culture.
Additionally, others (myself included) believe a lot is still missing from the debate, such as the voices of disabled women, how masturbation is treated in different cultures, and the psychological struggles it may compound for a victim of sexual assault.
These notions become all the more complicated when we try to translate them to the wider public, because more often than not, the subject is still taboo in mainstream culture. We’ve moved on from an archaic view that the act is entirely depraved or connected to witchcraft, but we haven’t completely freed the discussion from judgement, either.
When the personal so often becomes political, it can be hard to navigate between the ideological notion of sexual empowerment and the physical act of masturbation itself. Sometimes it’s fantastic; other times it’s emotionally loaded or frustrating. Masturbation is personal, and it can be a very vulnerable experience.
I’m of the pro-mazz stance, but I believe the conversation should extend further. Sex is complicated, even when it’s solo.
Although it may feel great, masturbation has many negative impacts that are not immediately obvious to the unwitting run-of-the-mill wanker. Believe it or not, masturbation is actually rather addictive in a chemical sense. During the lead up to and the aftermath of an orgasm, your brain releases a bunch of the neurotransmitter dopamine to make you feel good, and endorphins, which help you relax and feel at ease. These two chemicals are great for stress relief. However, overexposure over time can easily lead to dependence. If you partake in genital gesticulation too often, your brain sees it as a quick way to feel great, which leads to you relying on those moments alone for stress relief, anger management and even just as a way to get going in the morning. If this sounds kind of familiar, it’s because it’s the exact same way video game addiction, food addiction and gambling addiction form. The kicker is that masturbation adds the added dynamic of being hardwired into us. Humans are literally built to have kids, and your brain really can’t tell if you are using your hand or actually having sex for the sole purpose of procreation. You may scoff at this addiction spiel, but in recent years masturbation has become a real problem in younger adults – not just in terms of addiction, but also in terms of how they treat sex and each other. Psychologists and counsellors are now commonly treating masturbation addiction – most commonly in young boys – with many now specialising in treating this problem.
Porn and masturbation pretty much go hand in slightly sticky hand with each other, which leads me to my second point: masturbation culture is one of the leading reasons why many younger men have terribly warped views on sex and expectations of women. In fact, the rates of young girls presenting themselves with injuries due to sexual activities has exploded in recent times, with many citing pressures and expectations to perform downright ridiculous acts as the cause. Pornography can often be violent and involve dangerous acts, especially for the sexually inexperienced. It also tends to convey extremely damaging ideas when it comes to sexual encounters in real life. There are seriously adolescent kids out there who genuinely think the world of dating works like a bad porno, and that’s fucked.
Masturbation is not only dangerous on a personal level, but is also one of the main reasons society is going to hell. Thanks, you fucking wankers.
Disclaimer: I personally don’t really hate masturbation but Simon Farley made me write this.