I wholeheartedly endorse Mary Elizabeth Williams’s article in Salon today, “Why teen girls need more vibrators.” It comes after the media shockwave over 16-year-old Taylor Momsen’s recent exclamation that her vibrator is her “best friend” — partly because she’s young, partly because of a double standard. While Momsen may be young, she is not the first woman to go public about getting herself off, and it’s kind of ridiculous in this Age of Ice Cream Cart Stripper Poles that people are so astonished by Momsen’s proclamation. So, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve provided some helpful desensitization after the jump.
Famous women the world over have masturbated, or talked about masturbating, or sung about masturbating many, many times! Granted, all of the women I’m about to re-introduce are either slightly or considerably older than Momsen at the time of their self-induced pleasure. But I would argue, as Williams argues, that’s neither here nor there. What a young girl discovers about herself in no way harms her integrity and can actually help her in the way she views sex. As Williams puts it, “You understand that that specific, everything-is-right-with-the-world feeling [i.e., orgasming] isn’t luuuuuuv, and you don’t have to overromanticize something your male counterpart can rub out in the shower before homeroom… there’s something unique and powerful about a teenage girl announcing she doesn’t depend on a boy to feel good.”
So! With that in mind, let’s remind ourselves that celebrity-endorsed female masturbation isn’t the end of the world.
Exhibit A: Women have masturbated in movies (simulated and unsimulated).
Being There (1979)
There’s quite an uncomfortable, lengthy masturbation scene with Shirley MacLaine in this late-’70s flick. Brought on by Chance’s preference “to watch,” she proceeds to masturbate next to him — he meant the television. Either way, at least she got some for herself (or acted that way).
We Own the Night (2007)
Though Eva Mendes was tepid at first, she came out strong for her personal pleasure scene in the end.
The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998)
Natasha Lyonne’s character, Vivian, tries out her older cousin’s vibrator in this indie film. Maybe that’s where Momsen got her crazy idea — oh, movies and their influence on young minds!
Exhibit B: Women have sung about masturbation.
Britney Spears — “Touch of My Hand”
In her fourth album In the Zone, well after her turn from bubblegum pop and following her onstage kiss with Madonna, Britney explores another social taboo in the form of a beat ballad.
‘Cause I just discovered
Imagination’s takin’ over
Another day without a lover
the more I come to understand
the touch of my hand.
Cyndi Lauper – “She Bop”
That’s right. Cyndi Lauper bops…herself. The poppy songstress who is usually right at home with sleepover pillow fights and giggles likes to go after her “danger zone” in this one. Lyrical proof:
Hey, hey, they say I better get a chaperone,
Because I can’t stop messin’ with the danger zone.
No, I won’t worry, and I won’t fret,
Ain’t no law against it yet.
Oop, she bop, she bop.
Tori Amos – “Icicle”
Is anyone really surprised that Tori Amos has done this? Probably not, but it’s still awesome.
And when my hand touches myself,
I can finally rest my head.
And when they take from his body,
I think I’ll take from mine instead,
Getting off, getting off while they’re all downstairs.
Exhibit C: Women have masturbated onstage.
Most notably, Madonna. In her live performances of “Like a Virgin,” the pop star demonstrated exactly where her pleasure center is for thousands of people. I couldn’t find a video of her in the act, but she talks about it at the beginning of this one:
Like a virgin, indeed.
OK, you get the point: Not only do women masturbate, but tons of famous people have more than publicly come out with that fact before. It’s not a shocking concept. Sure, no one needs to know about Taylor Momsen’s vibrator, but, frankly, I’d rather hear about that than some bullshit about teenage abstinence (sorry, Joe Jonas). Women of the world (whatever your age), please, it’s time to own your masturbation.