Depending on how we’re brought up, we’re all told different things regarding the normalcy and appropriateness of self-love (also called solo sex or masturbation). In some religious households or environments in which authority figures are more conservative-minded, for example, self-love can be frowned upon, particularly as it concerns teenagers and young adults. In more secular, casual, or liberal-minded environments, however, self-love can be encouraged, or even simply ignored, in a way that each individual can choose for herself.
Neither environment, and no attitude that falls in between the two, is strictly “correct.” There are numerous factors that go into how a person feels about self-love, and as with most things, the best way to look at it is probably “to each her own.” However, for those teenage and young women who do feel inclined to experiment with and practice self-love, it’s important to know that from a physical and societal standpoint, there’s nothing wrong with it!
The unfortunate truth is that a lot of young women feel that there is something indecent, or even slutty, about masturbation. Discussing the reasons for this perception could go on forever. Part of it is that society largely tells women that men’s needs come before their own in bed; part of it is also that masturbation betrays a sexual appetite that is somehow deemed normal for men, but slutty for women. These are simple ways to phrase the problem, but the important thing is that women should fight hard against succumbing to this sort of gender bias and sexual suppression. Just do you! (Pun intended.)
Writing for Huffington Post about her own personal journey with self-love, blogger Erica Jagger put it beautifully, concluding that “masturbation shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure, but rather a regular part of self-care.” Asserting that while she has practiced self-love essentially her entire life, Jagger outlines the lengthy process she needed to go through before she actually felt that masturbation was normal, healthy, and even necessary. The hope, of course, is that others gain security in these facts at younger ages.
And fortunately, it seems as if younger generations may be hearing the message. In an infographic displaying the results of surveys about self-love, Adam and Eve revealed that 86% of American adults practice some form of self-love; and of that group, 59% of women (and 80% of men) say they started doing so before age 18. Those are encouraging statistics for anyone who wishes for young people to feel comfortable addressing their own needs. To further the positivity of the message, the infographic goes on to discuss some of the very real medical benefits of self-love. Solo sex can be a natural painkiller, a measured booster of self-esteem, and can even decrease the risk of cervical infection in women. Not bad for a medicine that also happens to feel fantastic!
These benefits are expanded upon in a terrific article at Jezebel, in which the author—in discussing the importance that teenage girls learn no one has to give them permission to touch themselves—expands on just about everything positive about self-love. She discusses creativity and self-esteem boosts, getting rid of migraines, boosting sex drive, eliminating aches or mental stress, and, perhaps most importantly, getting to know your body. Each of these is a very real benefit to self-love, and another reason to drop the shame or apprehension you may feel as a result of misguided social pressures to steer clear of masturbation.
Ultimately, the decision of when and how to practice self-love is up to each individual woman. Whatever your personal feelings may be, it’s important to understand that there’s nothing objectively wrong with self-love—and there’s a whole lot to love about it!