This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ruchi Balkrishna. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Masturbation Is A Form Of Self-Love And Physiological Need, Not A Taboo

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Usually, women are not expected to talk about such things.

What are “such things”?

Why aren’t we vocal about “such things”?

What stops us from opening up about it?

Well, it is a mental puzzle. A good mental puzzle botched up unnecessarily.

Now, what if I directly shoot the word — masturbation. Seeing the topic and author might make someone feel, “Oh! How can a woman be so bold to talk about it?”, or “Isn’t it shameless?”, or “A woman’s job is to give and not take anything from a man, sexually.”

Well, all these questions have been built and passed down over generations that make us believe, rather than have our conscious mind decide, what is right and what is wrong. A girl child, young girl, lady, or a fully grown mature woman is conditioned and given a rigid place in society from the time she takes birth. She is told to be a certain way and act a certain way.

Over generations, we have passed down a list of things written and spoken about masturbation that many people choose to believe and impose on others. Don’t you think these thoughts restrict one’s life?

But do you know what happens next? She is just a servant to everybody around her. She doesn’t know what she wants, and barely has the strength to go for it. It is an everyday struggle for all females to be accepted and allowed to do what they want to do. With this, she never gets to experience her life or her body.

“Masturbation is a voluntary stimulation of one’s genitals (clitoris or penis) to achieve sexual pleasure or orgasm. It is done through massaging, stroking, or rubbing your genitals to arouse yourself.” 

Firstly, there are a lot of myths that surround the practice of masturbation. For example:

  • It causes hairy palms.
  • It causes blindness.
  • It results in an unsatisfied sex life.
  • It causes mental issues.
  • If you are committed to somebody, then you shouldn’t masturbate.
  • It causes infertility.
  • Women don’t masturbate and their sexuality only exists for others.
  • Women who masturbate are “slutty” (Those who call a woman slutty or characterless are themselves characterless to be defaming a woman based on her sexuality or in any manner).
  • Men’s masturbation is about temporary and dreamy fantasies, while women’s masturbation is more emotional and loving.
  • Women masturbate to be empowered. Do men masturbate to be empowered? No, right? People masturbate to experience ‘sexual pleasure’. How can one inject the idea of empowerment over here?

As I have mentioned, over generations, we have passed down a list of things written and spoken about masturbation that many people choose to believe and impose on others. Don’t you think these thoughts restrict one’s life, that we have to be bound by something? That a human being is to go by an order that may or may not be right?

A woman acknowledging and expressing her thoughts about masturbation is considered too outrageous and bold. It will be a big revelation if she opens up about it. After that, she is seen with not-so-accepting-eyes of people, which further amplifies the feeling of being different from other women.

She can talk about every other issue that the world is facing, but not something that is innately a part of her. Why sexuality? Why not poverty or education? Or the prison system of the country? She could have taken any other topic and fought for it. Then why sexuality? This is why nobody wants to even talk about it. A feeling where society might name her something or she would not be accepted is a general notion that women feel. Why? Is this what is stopping us from progressing, the long-drawn dialogue “Log kya kahenge (What will people say)?”

You don’t need anybody to give yourself a sense of fulfillment. At times, it happens that despite having a partner, we masturbate.

Talking of sexuality and sexual needs, we are far away from talking about it openly. A lot of us don’t know what we are feeling and how to address these desires healthily. This is not about any particular gender. This is for the collective humankind.

Everything we feel, do or experience is a topic of discussion to know more about it. We are not living in our totality if we are constrained from realising and exploring who we are and what we desire. Whatever we have learned about masturbation or, for that matter, sex is all through informal education.

In schools or colleges, we have not had an actual orientation on sexual development and healthy sexual practices. Personally speaking, I never encountered anybody who taught or gave me an idea of something that’s remotely “sexual”. At times, we learnt about it through friends, porn, movies, or social media.

Hardly people elder to us talk about it. Some know and understand what is happening to them, while others might respond most unfavorably. Maybe educating students about masturbation and sexual desire was too big a thought before, but the time has come for us to understand ourselves sexually too, than just learning about world affairs.

Speaking openly, getting involved in meaningful discussions about masturbation, and standing in your power can help you accept it more and embrace it even more. 

Self-Love: Knowing about yourself and accepting yourself is self-love. How your mental health is, how fit and healthy you are, and how you are growing is a part of self-love. Similarly, knowing about your sexual needs and honoring them in a balanced and non-addictive manner is self-love. Knowing your desires and how to fulfill them yourself is self-love.

Realising further, we can see the health benefits of masturbation.

  • It can help you release sexual tension and stress.
  • You don’t need anybody to give yourself a sense of fulfillment. At times, it happens that despite having a partner, we masturbate. Maybe your partner is unable to satisfy you or perform. or it could be many other reasons that are natural to occur. Even if you get the desired pleasure from your partner, it is your choice to co-create a blissful experience.
  • It improves self-esteem and body image. In life, we judge our bodies very much and go hard on ourselves. Masturbation lets us explore the unexplored parts of our bodies that were lying dormant. Your body is your kingdom. All it needs is acceptance and love.
  • Relieves menstrual cramps and muscle tension.
  • Strengthens muscle tone in your pelvic and anal areas.
  • Helps you sleep better.
  • Helps you figure out what you like sexually.

So, all these benefits of masturbation play a role in keeping ourselves sexually active and healthy.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, many things are important for the overall development of a human being.

At the bottom, we have physiological needs, which are the most basic needs of a human being. If these are not in balance, then the levels above will not last long. Having all our bodily needs met sustainably can lead us to explore much more and go above. Let’s take hunger for an example. It is a natural, physical urge, which we fulfill by taking food and nutrition. Similarly, a human has sexual urges. So, masturbation is not a sin. It is a way to respond to our needs. It is a part of us. It just happens.

Then why is masturbation denied in society, despite it being a normal physical urge? As teenagers and young humans, we evolve, our bodies evolve, and we feel sexually attracted to someone. This is a part of the process. It is important that humans are allowed to express and explore themselves in every manner possible than to suppress or hide something that is an intrinsic part of their existence.

A temple sculpture in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India. A couple in the middle with a sexual embrace, a male and a female masturbating on either side.

It is all about normalising a part of us. Normalise masturbation. Normalise sexual desires and feel no guilt. Normalise masturbation among all genders and honor them. The point is, our sexual needs are not separate from us. They are very well a significant part of us. One might not realise it at a certain stage of life, but some day, they will.

With all kindness, I have written this article to acknowledge and celebrate our existence. Let’s not question how and why some things are. They just are. Let’s move ahead to a place where we are operating in a healthy and fulfilling manner, knowing and accepting ourselves and, most importantly, connecting on topics that seem uncomfortable.

You must be to comment.
  1. Amara D’Souza

    Great article!! Nicely expressed. Good work ..keep it up👌👍

    1. Ruchi Balkrishna

      Thank you!

  2. khushbu choudhary

    Very well said Ruchi!! It’s high time that we overcome these mental barriers…and stop judging on the basis of gender too.. self love is all what matters.. knowing oneself starts from the physical level and broadens at the soul level … These topics become taboo becoz we don’t dig deep.. every topic is open for discussion… 🙂 Loved it ♥️

    1. Ruchi Balkrishna

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Regards.

  3. Hitendra Parmar

    Woah great thought✌🏻
    You should write often and try pursuing it more seriously and as a career
    While reading I felt that a powerful woman has written it. Waiting for your next bold article

    1. Ruchi Balkrishna

      Thank you for your compliments! Will definitely consider your idea.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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