There is a profound dichotomy between the way men and women view, practice and embrace masturbation, and this rift may be at the core of deep cultural barriers that limit not only healthy sex lives but also compromise basic relations between men and women.
For the past 50 years, sex-positive feminists such as Betty Dodson have worked hard to recast self-pleasure for women as a sign of health, liberation, power and independence. While owning a vibrator or dildo a few decades ago might have suggested a lackluster sex life, it now represents the empowered woman who knows how to manage all of her needs well. Men, however, lack the intellectual and cultural framework to place masturbation at the center of a sexually, emotionally and intellectually vibrant lifestyle. The result: women will talk openly with each other about their toys, their experiences, their interests and the positive affects of masturbation and they generally have more sophisticated understandings of sex, pleasure and gender. Men?…Silence, fear and shame.