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The Real Problem With Female Masturbation

Apr 23 2014
Call it what it is: Ladies who lust.

It's refreshing to finally hear women talking about female masturbation. Given the social stigma around the topic, it can be difficult just to bring it up.

Unfortunately, too often the conversation doesn't overcome the unhelpful stereotypes about the female sex drive…or lack thereof. Time and time again, Christian leaders explain that women masturbate because they want to "fill a void" or have "attachment issues." These emotional generalizations fail to get at the real problem.

When men talk about masturbation (or at least what I have heard and read), everyone pretty much settles on the basics: It's hard to practice self-control. It's hard to resist indulging in lust. Really hard. Few men try to psychoanalyze the process, explaining masturbation away by realizing that they secretly have underlying issues relating to real women. (Though, it's true that many men do struggle to relate to real women in the flesh, if the movie Her is any indication.) Men realize that even if they do resolve those relational issues with women or somehow meet their "unmet needs," that won't solve their real problem. Their real problem is lust.

Many conversations about female masturbation—including some here on Her.meneutics—are missing that realization. Women are sometimes actually drawn to masturbation and pornography because they desire sexual pleasure. Rather than escaping emotional issues, they simply struggle with lust. In sermons and blog posts, pastors give examples of men committing idolatry by looking at pornography, and women committing idolatry by desiring romance, flagrantly ignoring the number of women who suffer from porn addictions.

Christians remain uncomfortable with the idea of women possessing sexual desire. Even as they talk about the ideal Christian woman being a steamy hot wife willing to fulfill her husband's every desire by not depriving him once married, we don't want to imagine the wife's own libido.

The doublespeak here—that women are supposed to be simultaneously sexually adventurous, available, and willing yet without possessing lust themselves—is an impossible contradiction to embody. It treats sex as a man's playing field, reinforcing the notion that women should cater to men's desires without possessing similar desires of their own.

To fully address female masturbation, we don't need more psychoanalysis about sex that implicitly negates female sexuality. We need a biblical approach that recognizes both the immense pleasure of the female orgasm and the inherent goodness of sexual desire while reserving its proper place for within marriage.

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