A Masturbation Melody
Taking on the taboo: the power of Hailee Steinfeld's "Love Myself"
How many songs about sex can you name? But what about songs about masturbation?
Sure, there’s “I Touch Myself” by The Devinyls — but when actor Hailee Steinfeld debuted “Love Myself” in 2015, it threw people for a loop. At first listen, or possibly 50th, this song may seem like nothing more than an uplifting beat combined with empowering lyrics. However, if you take a more careful listen, the lyrics also point towards a different kind of self-love. Here is the first verse for reference:
- When I get chills at night / I feel it deep inside without you, yeah
- Know how to satisfy / Keeping that tempo right without you, yeah
- Pictures in my mind on replay / I'm gonna touch the pain away
- I know how to scream my own name / Scream my name
I was surprised when I heard the song and realized the second meaning, as it felt like a rarity for a woman to be so outspoken on solo pleasure. It then got me wondering, why is masturbation so difficult for girls to discuss, even behind closed doors? In my experience, I would hear guys tossing around the conversation as if they’re discussing what they ate for dinner last night. For them, it seemed causal, normal, and not a big deal. But females often remain voiceless when it comes to embracing self-pleasure.
Opening Up The Conversation
I never heard girls talk about masturbation until my sophomore year in college. One night, five of us huddled around tubs of ice cream and bags of chips, and our regular topics changed to the seemingly unapproachable conversation. The room was soon filled with laughter and wide-eyed listeners, as everyone seemed to share something they never had before. The most shocking part of this experience was how normal and relatable everyone’s comments were.
It was there that my own anxiety about masturbation started to dissipate. Keep in mind, my two biggest off-limits topics when it came to sexuality were masturbation and nipples. Strange, I know. But that night started to change things.
Fast forward to my human sexuality course during my senior year: I had to give a presentation about masturbation, and used the word over 30 times in 15 minutes. Those types of situations really help drop any and all nerves about a topic by the end, no matter how taboo they are.
I'm not saying I'm an open book now. If you were to walk up to me to ask personal questions about myself, nine out of 10 times I wouldn’t answer, and I don't think you should have to. It’s ok to keep your own personal experiences to yourself. However, I tapped into a new ability to talk about these topics and their relation to the human experience at large with comfort and ease. This type of self-empowerment is helpful because it allowed me to gain a larger perspective, knowledge, and the ability to reflect on my own sexual journey.
Tips Going Forward
While not everyone is going to write a song about masturbation, you can find other ways to take risks in your own life.
For starters, I encourage you to identify a topic that brings you some discomfort or sexual shame. Find a trusted friend and have an open conversation about your chosen topic. You don't need to talk about yourself, but you can discuss the overarching ideas on the subject. For example, what have you learned about it from others? Or how do other people view this subject? Why do you think that is? Give yourself prompts and get the ball rolling.
Having candid conversations, in any area of your life, is one of the best ways to drop the shame that surrounds it. Choose something that pushes you outside your comfort zone, and see how much this experience can begin to open the doors to sexual freedom and inner sexual peace.