Thigh gaps, pay gaps, and now this...


Recently, I was browsing the Volonté blog published by the sex toy company Lelo, and came across an interesting article on the “masturbation gap.” The post was written by Kristin Mark, PhD, Assistant Professor of health promotion and Director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab at the University of Kentucky. A study Dr. Mark conducted revealed a significant gap between male and female masturbation frequency. 25 percent of male respondents reported masturbating almost every day, compared to 8.7 percent of women. When reporting weekly frequency the numbers look slightly better: 24 percent of women said they masturbate two to three times a week, versus 35 percent of men. Do women actually masturbate less, or do they feel uncomfortable admitting it’s something they do?

It’s impossible to tell, and Mark goes on to say that shame is likely at the heart of the issue, but I also wonder if women talk about masturbation less openly because from a young age we are not encouraged to claim our sexual space, to become moguls of our pleasure, and the mere mention of it is often regarded as a threat or a joke. The contradictory messages we receive as young women render many of us tongue-tied when it comes to talking about sex in a meaningful way as adults. We spend too much time worrying about our partners, our parents, friends, celebrities, or whoever’s judgment we carry around with us while knowing full well that likely no one will ever find out what we do with our bodies behind closed doors—that is, unless we want them too.  All this worrying kills arousal, all this pleasing silences a conversation we must have with ourselves about what truly gets us off.

Chelsea Beck