Female “Self-Love”- The New Trend in Pop Culture

28 Feb

Love her or hate her, Miley Cyrus has a knack at pinpointing things in the Zeitgeist and turning them into worldwide trends.

A scantily clad Miley Cyrus on stage in LA, hand on crotch

After making twerking so popular that it found its way into the Oxford dictionary, she debuted a racy video for her new song, “Adore You,” in which she rolls around while making masturbatory gestures.

But Cyrus isn’t the only celebrity giving new meaning to the term “self love.” A couple of months ago, Rihanna was spotted wearing a T-shirt saying ‘D.I.Y.’

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Yup, female masturbation is having a another pop culture moment and it’s about time. Still, men tend to have it easier—films such as There’s Something About MaryAmerican Pie, and Don Jon depict it as natural and necessary—and it remains something of a taboo for women.

Which is precisely why provocation-hungry celebs are eager to talk about it. But unlike the riotous, feminist rock stars of the ’80s—such as Blondie and Madonna, who simulated masturbation during performances of “Like a Virgin”—modern provocateurs are presenting self-service as an intimate practice. Instead of seeking out the male gaze, it seems like they’re building an allegiance with womankind. After all, isn’t masturbation social class, age, race, and marital status agnostic?

The shift that has appeared is largely based around an absence of the man: take for example Janet Jackson’s Take Care, where she sings: “I’ll lay here and take care of it ’til you come home to me.” For Jackson, masturbation is a bookmark. The Divinyls’ I Touch Myself– a pro-masturbation anthem if ever there was one – contains the line: “I’d get down on my knees, I’d do anything for you.” When it came out in 1990 it was intrepid. But the song is just as much about giving pleasure as getting it.

In a 2011 interview with CNN, Kathleen Hanna, feminist leader of Bikini Kill and now the Julie Ruin, questioned the purpose of Katy Perry’s sexual presentation on Perry’s 2008 debut single I Kissed A Girl. “The whole thing is like, ‘I kissed a girl so my boyfriend could masturbate about it later,’ said Hanna. “It’s disgusting. It’s exactly every male fantasy of fake lesbian porn.”

Considered alongside a line from the new essay collection by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, Is It My Body? – “The body’s not theirs anymore,” she writes of rock stars. “It’s a public domain and public perception” – the discussion over whom a woman’s pleasure serves seems more relevant than ever.

“Masturbation is true girl power,” says Karley Sciortino, editor of the unapologetic, pro-sex website Slutever. Sciortino believes the current trend was influenced by  groups of young underground women artists who “use their bodies to make sense of their identity.” She also predicts that modern feminism will continue to encourage body reappropriation, and thinks that “discussing masturbation is an important step of this process.”

Delphine Gaudy, co-founder of hip Parisian, women-centric sex shop Dollhouse says part of our disconnect from proper sexual identity is that women usually first encounter porn that wasn’t intended for them—or, as she puts it, images that are “projections of male fantasies onto women.” But the landscape is changing. And instead of selling ultra-phallic shapes, Gaudy stocks her shop with pocketsize gadgets in fun colors intended for “yourself only.”

Personally, I’m pumped artists are bringing awareness and acceptance to a practice that was once seen as shameful (although their ways of alluding to such might not be the best, but hey it’s something right?!).

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