Breaking the stigma: Why we should get busy down under

For the Facebook 30-day orgasm challenge it doesn’t matter how you do it: with a vibrator, your partner, or just you giving yourself a helping hand. There is only one rule. You have to do it for 30 days straight.

It was meant as a wink to the multitude of 30 day challenges floating around Facebook, such as ‘the ass of your dreams’, ‘the ideal bikini bod’ or ‘eating healthy’.

“Or in other words: 30 days of torture” jokes Mirte van Beijsterveldt, editor of WINK, the online lifestyle magazine for women, and the brain behind the 30-day orgasm challenge. “That’s why I thought: ‘30 days of suffering?  No, we can do that differently! Instead, all of us are going to have pleasure for 30 days!’”

“On top that of that” she adds, “it is also very healthy.”

Something Ilaniek Zantingh, a sexologist from the Dutch Scientific Association for Sexology  (NVVS), agreed with. “It stimulates the blood flow,” she explained. “Which creates a good balance for your vagina, and lessens the chances that fungi or bacteria disrupt that balance.”

Meaning that it is a natural way of  keeping your hormone balance in check,  and your genital region clean. So throw away your chilly, femfresh or any other brand of vaginal wash you own, there is a more fun way to keep it spotless down under.

But the challenge is not just about pleasure and health benefits. It’s also about breaking a stigma.

“We also want to create more sexual awareness,” Mirthe explained. “Many people (mostly women) aren’t really aware of what they do or do not like down under.”

Not surprising.

While it’s not as extreme as in the 1600s, when female masturbation was openly discouraged and women were send to doctors for ‘bouts of hysteria’ when they displayed their sexual appetite, it’s still not something we completely embrace. My sex-ed class skipped the topic completely, and the biology teacher didn’t touch the topic either.

Anyone I asked told me the same: “No, never talked about it.”

So the numbers released by Rutgers WPF, a Dutch expert center on sexuality, in their 2011 report on sexual health aren’t surprising: only 65% of the women masturbate – and only sometimes. Just 33% ‘flick the bean’ more than once a month. In comparison, the male rate of adult masturbation is about 95 to 99 percent. Quite the gap.

And that’s a shame according to her. “When you masturbate  regularly you become more conscious of the ways in which you can reach a climax,” she says. “And that helps enormously in your sex life, because if you do not even know how you can come, how in the hell is your partner supposed to know?”

Which is why Mirthe, and the team of WINK, hope to narrow that gap with the help of the Facebook challenge, in which anybody above the age of 18 was allowed to participate. Then they waited for responses to pour in. And they did. Even a handful of guys decided to join in

At least 278 people decided to openly participate. But Mirthe divulged that a lot of people also joined  anonymously. “We sometimes got messages from people wo indicated that they were participating  in secret. They really liked the idea, but didn’t dare to publicly like the challenge, because of their work, parents or college, for example. That’s a pity of course.”

Because – be honest – secretly participating isn’t going to break the stigma on female masturbation.

And even for the women that did join the challenge, openly talking about it was a whole other ball game. None of the participants we asked wanted to talk about the experience, it was something private for them. Joining a Facebook group is one thing, but actually talking about it to another person was a step to far.

So while Mirthe calls the 30 day orgasm challenge “a success”,  it is only so in numbers. The dialogue itself lacks.

But we’ll get another chance soon.

While Mirthe was happy about the enthusiasm for the first challenge, she thinks it could be better.
“In a while we’ll start another round. And this time we’ll go even bigger! Are you going to join Celine?” she asks.

Well, I just might.

By Celine Cornelis

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