MANILA, Philippines – “Love yourself, girl!” “Self-love lang yan!”
As women, we’re always told to unconditionally “love ourselves” emotionally, but how does the physical aspect of self-love come, aka physically pleasuring yourself, hardly ever comes up in conversations? And how come the few times it does, the topic is either met with shy silence, awkward giggles, or even a scolding from our elders?
Masturbation, especially for females, continues to be a taboo topic in the Philippines. Even any mention related to female self-pleasure is considered off-limits by many families and even groups of friends, and is rarely openly discussed by the majority, much less encouragement. It’s usually met with secrecy, judgment, and shame, especially for those who grew up in conservative, religious families and in all-girl Catholic schools. Many girls grow up believing that sexual pleasure – whether with yourself or with another – is wrong, shameful, dirty, and even despicable.
This kind of all-or-nothing mentality can become detrimental to a young female’s self-confidence and self-esteem, and this is why local organizations and small businesses like sex toy shop Frisky ULTD are trying their best to break this stigma, one sex -positive conservation at a time.
Frisky ULTD is on a mission to normalize the sexual needs of women, by promoting the benefits of the human need that is masturbation and offering different tools to help women explore their body in the most comfortable way possible. “Masturbation is a great way to get to know your body and embrace your sexuality and confidence,” Neale, co-founder of Frisky ULTD, told Rappler in an interview.
“In the simplest terms, masturbation is the act of touching one’s body parts for pleasure. For women, this could mean masturbating using fingers, a sex toy, a bidet, and even a pillow if they’re feeling a bit more adventurous,” Neale said.
Through open discussions, sex-positive content, and a diverse line of adult toys, Frisky wants women to know that their needs are, attended, and even encouraged. There are good things in store when you explore your own body, Neale believes, but she also understands that there is still much work to be done when it comes to demystifying the taboo that is female masturbation.
Shame is lame: Breaking the sex stigma
It makes sense why sex is often shamed in society; according to Neale, sex is “greatly influenced by religious beliefs,” and with the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic country, there’s enough proof of this going around. There is an environment of fear already instilled at a young age, especially if you grow up believing that all sexual pleasure should only be reserved for your future spouse. If it is not, it is a sin.
“The ubiquitous topic of sex and masturbation has always been deemed immoral and shameful in the eyes of older Filipino generations. And though Millenials and Gen Zs are becoming more open to progressive topics related to sex and masturbation, they are often met with judgment by the majority for speaking up about these things,” Neale said.
This is why it is Frisky’s advocacy to make women feel more comfortable speaking or even just asking about the topic. Through their work, they want to open the floor to more women curious to learn about their bodies.
“Sexual pleasure is a human right. With this in mind, masturbation should be viewed as an avenue for people to exercise their right to bodily autonomy,” she said.
But how does one even start the destigmatization of these taboo topics? Neale said that as cliché as it may sound, the breaking down of these barriers must always begin at home. For example, becoming a sex-positive parent is a great way to start.
“Since sex and sexuality are lifelong conversations, it’s best to discuss this within the confines of one’s home without judgment and shame. Continuously talking about these things and bringing science, research, and proof into the picture would also help those who still feel uneasy to explore masturbation,” she said.
Just like the talk on the birds and bees, it’s also very important to bring forth open discussions about self-pleasure, so that young women can already start feeling comfortable with their own bodies and in their own skin at an early age. This stigma, if not addressed properly, may affect young women’s development, in the sense that they feel ashamed of exploring their own bodies and embarrassed to be themselves.
“Instead of feeling empowered and in control of their bodies, young women hide behind the fear of being judged by those around them. A lot of young women feel stuck in bodies they don’t know much about, they feel clueless and most of the time afraid of exploring,” Neale said.
As a business owner, Neale can already spot this shame in her customers’ buying behavior – these women often feel the need to hide their masturbation tools toys from people, which is also why Frisky allows “discreet” packaging or specified delivery times for their customers who ask.
Good for the mind, body, and soul
Neale wants women to know that masturbation poses more benefits than risks, and that there’s nothing “bad” that will come out of it, contrary to the misguided belief. “It actually helps teach young women about their bodies and lets them explore their sexuality early on, which allows them to have autonomy over their bodies,” she said. When it comes to dating in the future, when you know yourself well enough, dating becomes easier and your insecurities don’t have to steal the show.
Also, more than the act itself, masturbation can hone that sense of potential and self-confidence that independent women look for to thrive. Neale compared it to females being allowed to dress however they want without the fear of judgment from those around them. “Something so menial can encourage women to go beyond and explore their bodies in a deeper, more sensual way,” she said.
Physically, masturbation is good for the health, too! “Masturbation promotes better sleep and can even aid in relaxing the body, especially after a long and tiring day,” she said. With better sleep comes better immunity, memory, energy, and productivity, and who can say no to that?
When it comes to the emotional and mental benefits of masturbation, these are “endless,” according to Neale. Aside from feeling empowered and confident in your own body, masturbation promotes the release of endorphins. “These are feel-good hormones that cause feelings of physical and mental well-being,” she said. Endorphins, which are also called the “happy hormones” you typically get after a good workout, also comes with its own benefits for one’s mental health.
If you’re single and very ready to mingle, masturbation can also help boost your self-confidence and self-esteem, as it can “help you determine your own body’s likes and limitations.”
“Exploring yourself through masturbation is a fool-proof way of boosting your confidence in your body and in what it can do for you! There’s really nothing more empowering than knowing what you want in bed and knowing exactly how to get it,” Neale said.
If you’re in a committed relationship, it’s even better! “There’s a common notion that masturbating alone or without your SO means that your partner doesn’t satisfy you enough in bed. But people need to erase the idea that masturbating/masturbating using toys would mean replacing your SO,” Neale said.
“The reality is that mutual masturbation has so many benefits for people in committed relationships,” she added. Masturbating on your own can help you educate your partner about the techniques that work for you in bed, and which may help improve your sex life and compatibility as a couple.
When done in front of one’s partner, it helps build sexual confidence and breaks down any existing barriers. It can open up a whole new channel of communication, which is great for building emotional and sexual intimacy, as well as a deeper connection in and outside the bedroom.
After all, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? – Rappler.com