Sex-positive journalist Nadia Bokody believes girls as young as 11 should be learning about masturbation.
Citing research that has found less than half of adolescent girls aged between 14 and 17 have masturbated, Bokody says that the fact teenagers are more comfortable “having intercourse with another person than they are with exploring their own bodies alone… is deeply problematic”.
Speaking to Mamamia, Bokody said, “11 is the age most kids begin sex education in school… Research shows one in four teens will be pregnant before they 20, and of the 20 million-odd cases of STDs every year, around half of those involves teens.
“Meanwhile, masturbation is a totally safe, risk-free activity kids can practice alone without concerns about these consequences.”
In 2017, research was published that found a significant ‘orgasm gap‘ between men and women. According to the study, 95 per cent of straight men always orgasm through intercourse, whereas only 65 per cent of women always climax during sex. That statistic drops in the case of casual hook ups, with only 40 per cent of women experiencing orgasm.
So – some experts pondered – how are we to close that gap, if women don’t know what it is that gets them off?
Perhaps part of women’s detachment from their own bodies comes from what Bokody refers to as the ‘mystery’ that surrounds their ‘private parts’.
“Boys are raised to recognise and label their own genitals,” she told Mamamia. Simply, girls are not.
“The problem with this is that new research shows a significant percentage of grown women can’t correctly label their own vaginal anatomy and don’t believe their pleasure is a relevant factor in partnered sex.”
Bokody explained girls are growing up feeling deep shame around their bodies, which perpetuates issues like unsafe sex, sexual abuse and teen pregnancy.
“We need to get real about what’s happening with our kids and take some responsibility,” she said.
“If we continue to act like these things aren’t happening simply because they make us feel inappropriate to acknowledge, we are doing young people, particularly young women, a serious injustice.”
Since advocating for education regarding masturbation for young girls, Bokody has experienced some serious backlash.
“People are acting as if I suggested teachers have a porn star come into the classroom to give a live sex lesson,” she told Mamamia.
Here are all the very interesting ways a woman can orgasm… Post continues.
“This is not at all what I’m saying. I’m saying we need to do away with all the shame and ambiguity around the human body and make kids aware of safer alternatives to partnered sex before they are emotionally and physically ready for it.”
Bokody also referred to qualitative studies that have concluded many young women who experience pain during intercourse don’t see that as a valid enough reason to ask them to stop.
Painful, unpleasant sex, with a plethora of potentially negative consequences, or masturbation in the privacy of their own home?
Bokody said: ” I know which of the two I’d prefer my child was doing!”