By Chelsea Badger
OPEN is a photo series that documents collections of adult toys and products belonging to West Australian women. I approached this series as an opportunity to start conversations about why female sexuality and masturbation is still considered by society as something to be hidden away and not discussed openly, despite the fact that many women do masturbate and actively engage, however privately in their sexuality. This series is about unboxing the myth that female masturbation and sexuality should be a ‘hush hush’ subject.
Male masturbation is widely accepted and talked about freely. It’s portrayed in movies, slang words such as ‘wanker’ are used often without hesitation and it is seen as a given for men. So why don’t we have the same social acceptance about female masturbation? And why are we taught to compress our sexuality as women, to hide away the things that will make us appear sexual? Why does society more often than not see female sexuality as a ‘bad’ thing and something to be ashamed of?
From personal experience, I spent my teenage years in boarding school and by the end of the 5 years I knew everything about my friends and we were very very open with each other. However, conversations about masturbation, sex toys and female ejaculation didn’t start to happen until we were 21-22 years old. This to me was concerning since conversations about masturbation between boys who had the same boarding school upbringing, started coming into conversations at a much younger age around 12-13 years old.
I believe this is because boys are more openly educated about male sexuality in schools, as well as male masturbation being more openly presented in the media. Sexual education teaches that boys might experience wet dreams, get unwanted erections, the normality of masturbation as well as the technicalities of both the male and female reproductive system. However sexual education related to girls revolves much more around just the reproductive systems.
By teaching and portraying ‘pleasure’ constantly to boys and not to girls I feel this is creating the idea and social standard that it is totally ok for boys to feel pleasure but definitely not ok for girls too. Because if it were ok for girls, wouldn’t it be taught and portrayed to them as much as it to boys?