Pop Culture & The Masturbating Girl

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SNL Studios

I was 11 the first time I laid eyes on Steven Tyler.

I was sitting in my basement watching the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards when he walked onstage swinging his scarf-clad microphone stand, donning a feather boa, and singing the song “Pink” (which seems kind of weird in retrospect considering the context).

I was in awe of his giant mouth, mostly because I was self-conscious of my own — I cried the first time my mom told me I couldn’t get lipo on my lips when I grew up — and he had the biggest one I had ever seen. I was feeling the love. But I was also feeling something else: a rush of panic as I realized something very strange was happening to my body.

My pants were weirdly warm and I felt a bizarre tickle in the same vicinity. I couldn’t tell if I was dying or about pee my pants. Whichever it was, I didn’t wait to find out. I turned off the TV mid-performance, ran upstairs and locked myself in my room.

If I were a boy, things would have been different.

Now if I were a boy, things would have been different. The awkward discovery of sex and masturbation for men was everywhere on film and TV. Dick jokes were the norm, and no one batted an eyelash when Jason Biggs penetrated a pie on the big screen. People would rather talk about Alexander Portnoy jacking off with a piece of raw liver than a teenage girl exploring her own body.

Why?

While I was being told to “keep my legs closed,” boys my age were given the excuse “it’s the hormones!” I thought about sex just as much as any boy did, but I was only acknowledged as the prize: a horny boy’s conquest.

Not only was this sentiment shown through pop culture, but it was also taught in schools. Other than learning about periods — which girls were shamed into never mentioning — sex “ed” was a complete waste of time. Guys learned how boners worked and the mechanics of wet dreams while girls made abstinence bags into which we dropped individual sheets of paper with reasons for our chastity (“Because I love to dance!” I wrote).

Yes, that happened.

Male virility has always been a topic of conversation. Even dating back to the 18th century, when The Beggar’s Benison men’s club literally devoted itself to “the convivial celebration of male sexuality,” and members would masturbate in groups during initiation. Circle-jerk, anyone?

Do you really think that women weren’t simultaneously paddling the pink canoe while their husbands were off at those meetings? Because they totally were. They just didn’t have a club.

But I digress.

I didn’t want to make bullshit promises I knew I wasn’t going to keep; I wanted to learn about sex! I wanted to explore! I was boy CRAZY! I had a new crush every other day, and loved Titanic a little too much. I had no idea what the fuck was going on in that hot, sweaty car, but I wanted to find out, and I wanted to find out with Leonardo DiCaprio!

But due to what I learned from school and TV, I was constantly questioning if I was normal. I was mortified. Did anyone else feel the same way I did as a kid?

I didn’t want to make bullshit promises I knew I wasn’t going to keep; I wanted to learn about sex!

Thankfully, my friends told me exactly what I wanted to hear: no, you’re not alone, and yes, I totally got off to those up-close pictures of guys in glossy magazines, too.

“I had a sex dream about The Nutty Professor once,” my good friend Roxanne divulged. Her first kiss was with her friend Lindsay, and the dream came that night. She had never mentioned the experience to anyone before. “We made out at her house and then that night I had a dream that Lindsay was the Nutty Professor. I’ve had a thing for him ever since.”

Then I found a friend who had an obsession with boy banders, particularly Justin Timberlake. Considering these guys were bred to get tween hearts pumping with their hair gel and dance moves, this came as less of a surprise than the story prior. The NSYNC member was definitely a driving force for a ton of first-time masturbators.

“NSYNC… oh my GOD,” my friend Jillian laughed. “I loved Justin Timberlake when I was about 11… I would sit and watch TRL every day after school but once it finished, I found myself wanting more. Now I realize I just wanted Carson Daly in my bed.”

And then there was science backing me up… kind of.

In 2011, Dr. Cynthia Robbins from Indiana University in Indianapolis analyzed data from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) gathered in 2009. Roughly 800 teens between the ages of 14-17 participated, and were asked how often they masturbated. Research found that nearly three-quarters of the younger boys surveyed admitted to masturbating at least once in their lives, while less than half of the younger girls surveyed admitted the same.

The numbers jumped among older participants, with 80% of 17-year-old boys saying that they had gotten themselves off at least once before, while only 58% of girls admitted to self-love.

But considering how I felt about the situation mixed with my friends’ feelings on it, how could those numbers make sense? Everyone is curious about sexuality, especially as a teenager when it’s all shiny and new. So why are the stats so low for girls?

I blame the lack of female sexuality in films and TV; its absence gives reason for women to straight-up lie. If they’re not being portrayed in a similar light as men, what makes their desires normal? It’s an embarrassing thing to talk about personally when it’s not being talked about anywhere else.

Thankfully, things have since started shifting. It may be at a glacial pace, but it’s a pace nonetheless.

SNL recently touched on the hilarious ways prepubescent girls deal with getting turned on for the first time in a music video titled “First Got Horny 2 U.” Members of the faux girl band were seen humping couches, scooting across floors, and giving a proper nod to the portable showerhead over The Nanny’s Maxwell Sheffield and the Menendez brothers.

It was hilarious, because it was true. Unlike guys who frequented the pages of Playboy, girls had to settle for the fully dressed models of Seventeen and figure everything else out on their own. Randos were also thrown into the mix, but when it came to getting off, you had to get creative. Now there’s a bit more guidance.

With films like The To Do List, where Aubrey Plaza was really pushing to get laid and masturbating in the meantime, girls are at least given the opportunity to get more comfortable with themselves. American Pie may have centered around a bunch of horny dudes, but there was still a shout out to the ladies when Alyson Hannigan reminisced about sticking a flute up her hoo-ha. Music helps too, particularly Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s “Feeling Myself.” If two of the fiercest women in the industry can put out a masturbation anthem, you can totally take some time to yourself to get the boat rocking.

I wish I had all of this when I was a lost teen girl. I didn’t rediscover Aerosmith until I was 14 and by then, I had watched my fair share of pixilated pornos out of curiosity and found all of the golden nuggets the Internet had to offer.

Read the original article on Thrillist. 

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