There were two things mentioned during our Seinfeld discussion that I wanted to go into further.
There was a mention of "friends with benefits," a non-exclusive, non-romantic relationship based on sexual gratification that is known for almost never working out. What usually ends most FWB relationships is one partner developing feelings for the other and those feelings not being reciprocated, making casual sex awkward. In Seinfeld, they show Elaine needing more from Jerry than they had agreed upon while setting the guidelines for their relationship and, "yadda, yadda, yadda" it didn't last. I think using these tired gender roles reinforces the amount of pressure on heterosexual men to be emotionally detached from sex. Whenever we hear about these casual relationships not working out, it's because the woman needed more of a commitment or an emotional attachment (and if she doesn't then she's a slut, right?), but rarely about men acquiring feelings for their partners. A lack of this representation perpetuates the heteronormative ideas of gender.
The Seinfeld group also happened to mention the series' episode titled, "The Contest" where the four main characters have a competition for who can go the longest without masturbating. Elaine, the only female competing, loses the bet. In our discussion, one of my classmates said something along the lines of, "women are sexual camels"(edit; I should note that this is a line from Seinfeld, but the aforementioned classmate assured us that it was accurate) and implied that women don't masturbate because, well, they're women. I'm here to school you.
To me, this opinion sounds as though it has been formed by a lifetime of watching gross-out comedies and '90s stand-up. Of course women masturbate. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where young girls are told that masturbating is inappropriate. When an actress like Taylor Momsen, 17, says that, "her vibrator is her best friend" she's still hit with comments from a source to FOX news that says that her actions, "will result in failure in her life."
I do understand that there are a lot of health benefits to masturbation for males, like helping your immune system and maintaining prostate health. That's great. Go masturbate to your heart's content (without depleting your sperm bank). We're lucky enough to live in a time when male masturbation is widely accepted and fewer men are punished for spilling their seed on a Victoria's Secret catalogue. Females haven't been as lucky. People still long very much to control female sexuality, to make them rely on a man for sexual gratification.
To say that females don't masturbate perpetuates this unhealthy idea of female sexuality. Young girls being told that they're not supposed to masturbate while "boys will be boys," is what has lead generations of females' unfamiliarity with their own anatomy. It's what has lead generations of females to not know how to give themselves an orgasm, and, in many cases, to not know if they've ever had an orgasm. Girls face developing stress disorders and leading unhealthy sex lives when they are told that masturbating is wrong. To say that women don't need to masturbate because they're women contributes to this machine.*
Females are also multi-orgasmic and, as my favorite person ever Dan Savage puts it, "physiologically, sexually insatiable." Frankly, I'm getting a little angry reflecting back on this fairly ignorant comment, so I'm going to let Dan take it from here:
*Also, to say that women don't masturbate doesn't even make sense outside of our Seinfeld discussion: Elaine is the one who lost the bet.
Here's another video from Dan Savage on masturbation. It strays from my original point, but it's educational nonetheless: