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Let’s Talk About Sex (But Not Masturbation)

Posted Nov 20 2012 1:21pm
Interesting to read Shirley Conran’s comments on female sexuality on Huff Post today: Sex: What’s changed since the ’80s ? Her bestselling novel Lace educated men and women about sex during the ‘Swinging Sixties’ when there was more sexual freedom but little practical information on anatomy and female pleasure. As she says, most men thought the clitoris was a Greek hotel and the average woman didn’t know how to enlighten him. 

“Today, girls may know more about sex but Lace‘s message of empowerment and equality is as relevant and important as it was 30 years ago. It’s a pity that modern novels, especially informative ones that involve women’s sexuality are put down as ‘mummy porn’, ‘bonkbusters’, ‘bodice rippers’, ‘beach-reads’, ‘wank-fodder’ or, simply, trash. But what has clearly been proved, and what has changed in the last 30 years, is that women are far more openly interested in having an enjoyable sex life.”

Whatever you think of 50SoG, it has got people talking and trying new things, and any debate around pleasure and sex is a good thing in our view. What’s been surprising is the level of distaste and criticism – sneering and jealousy, perhaps? – from the British media. E.L James has had phenomenal success with the trilogy and all the best to her. She has paved the way for many more books in the genre and given women a voice to express their desires and fantasies. 

I find Conran’s observations on masturbation telling and have observed this myself. She says it’s still taboo to talk about it. I’ve noticed my girlfriends are happy to talk about sex and men until the cows come home but they rarely bring up the M word. It’s like the elephant in the room; not something we talk about openly, but if we can’t express it in words that feel comfortable then ditch the word ‘masturbation’ and find another word or phrase that feels empowering. It’s an important part of health and self care, and if we can’t acknowledge it and share experiences with close friends then how can we tell a lover what we like, need and what gets us off? Masturbation is great for mismatched libidos and something fun and intimate to do together when you don’t feel like having sex. 
 
‘What is not yet discussed by either sex is female masturbation, which remains a taboo subject. Men think it is a) filthy, b) an affront to masculinity and to themselves personally. Nice women don’t do it.

But we do.

On the other hand, male masturbation is a) only natural, b) provides a healthy relief before marriage or when a woman is not available, such as in prisons, warships, tents and tanks or anywhere, anytime, when alone and unobserved.

After the nine o’clock TV curfew, when all 14-year-olds are safely tucked up in their bed, TV comedians hurl male masturbation jokes at audiences, which roar with the laughter of recognition.

The French writer Colette once wrote that a good lover is one that can do it better than you can. Maybe that’s why men don’t like the idea of a woman being able to please herself. This is one perception that hasn’t changed a bit in 30 years – both in bed and out of it’. 

Comments please!

Play breaks are a regular part of our working day. 

Maybe we should host a masturbation salon? 

Follow Shirley Conran on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/@shirleyconran

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