FORCE helps people get a grip on masturbation in Censored Series discussion at Women’s Resource Center

David Pujol and Rocky Baier

Masturbation has turned into a taboo topic, but over 50 people gathered to destigmatize and have a conversation about it Tuesday night in the Women’s Resource Center in the Student Union Memorial Center. The event was put on by Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower as part of their Censored Series where once a month they take a controversial topic and have an open discussion about it.

UA Graduate Tatum Craft, an expert from the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation and a worker at the adult store Fascinations, led the discussion about the ins and outs of exploring our ins and outs.

However, no one can be a masturbation expert.

“Nobody can really be an expert about masturbation for all people because masturbation is totally individualistic and I can learn just as much from you all as you can learn from me,” Craft said.

The discussion ranged from topics sexual intimacy with a partner to the role people of color play in pornography.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story used the term “colored people” in lieu of “people of color.” We apologize to our readers and anyone we offended with this insensitive error. 

According to Urban Dictionary, masturbation is something most of us have been caught doing, never admit to doing, and know full well that everyone else does.

Zeina Peterson, a journalism graduate student, first discovered her sexuality in regards to masturbating when she was 5 years old after seeing her older brother watch porn. 

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“I was honestly getting turned on,” she said. “I was looking at the female and wondering, ‘How do I get like that? How do I have an orgasm? Do I dry hump my pillow?’ Once I found my g-spot, I was masturbating every other day and there was a point where I was like, ‘Oh my God, what if my clit falls off?’”

Students and members of the community discussed their personal histories with experimenting with toys, from vibrators to hot dogs.

Women and Gender Studies junior Stefano Saltalamacchia spoke about his resourcefulness in exploring his sexuality as a kid.

“I remember this one time I tried using a hot dog and it kept breaking and I was getting frustrated because I was like 7, and I wanted to explore my sexuality and I couldn’t,” Saltalamacchia said.

Sexual toys are not easily accessible. For instance, people under the age of 18 are not allowed in Fascinations, thus limiting them to household objects or other means. Also, toys are not cheap. Quality vibrators cost upwards of $200.

Lastly, the conversation went in depth on porn and how people are over-sexualized and fetishized.

“Pornography is a very damaging, fucked up, and problematic way of consuming sex,” community member Karlyn Bradley said. “It fetishizes people of color and trans folks and people with certain bodies. It’s also white as fuck. There’s this Eurocentric idea of beauty standards in mainstream porn. On one hand it’s great that we have access to this, on the other hand, what do we have access to? What are the messages that are being said about specific people’s bodies?”

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Bradley continued to elaborate on how porn is marketed towards white males and questioning what happens if you don’t fit that mold. Desires of other groups are not recognized unless they pleasure men.

Overall, masturbation can be a form of self-love and a way to become comfortable with your own body. While the idea is the same for most individuals, the execution is different for everybody. It just depends on how much you want to explore your body and your sexuality.

“I think just overall masturbation is just a really awesome, safe, self-empowering, wonderful thing if you want to masturbate,” Craft said. “If you don’t want to that’s fine as well. But I think masturbation in general is just stigmatized and people are really ashamed to say that they do, which is odd to me because I think it’s one of the most natural, beautiful, awesome things that exists.”

For more resources and help, check out saaf.org and the Women’s Resource Center on the 4th floor of the SUMC.

For more in-depth sexual help, contact Jellywink Boutique at (520) 777-9434.


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