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A Stroke of Good Luck

by David Levinson
October 20, 2005
A Stroke of Good Luck
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, masturbation is "the excitement of the sexual organs, often culminating in orgasm." For men, this might occur as many as several times a day (if you have such free time), and is a wonderful stress-reliever for the usually sweet, albeit aggressive Alpha male. For women, however, masturbation-or autoeroticism–usually happens with far less frequency. It is not enough to hang gender on the differences in masturbatory practices, though many studies often allude to, if not cite outright, the gulfs between a man's sexual voracity and a woman's sexual sublimation. How can this be, when it's more than obvious women have come into their own hyper-libidinal rights?

Take Kim Katral's character, Samantha, on "Sex and the City." A femme fatale for all ages, she's a timeless example of just how far female sexuality has been pushed into the open. As she beds one man after the other, Samantha rarely if ever complains of regret. She masturbates willingly and gleefully, a modern-day Gloria Steinem, without the heavy, psychological baggage and concomitant analysis. The girl just wants to have fun; and the show, which condones Samantha's free-wheeling sexual appetites, wants less to instruct its audience on the ins and outs of romance and dating in the Big City than it wants to foster a healthy, cogent and real take on four friends and their vastly differing, often antagonistic, views on what it means to feel satisfied-without the aid of a man. One such way, of course, is through masturbation.

As a country founded on creaky, antiquated ideas (and ideals) of sex and sexuality-i.e. Victorian hair shirts and Puritanical repression-here, now, in 2005, it seems silly to think we were ever mystified by the act of stroking, but we were. Just take the etymology of the word masturbation itself: from Latin, manu stupare, which literally means "to defile with the hand." Throughout history and in certain cultures today, women are still viewed as chattel, less than men, and made to wear get-ups to keep their better parts hidden. But in the sanctity of their own bedrooms, the same hands and wrists become weapons against depression and loneliness. A fist between the thighs, a finger rubbing away at the clitoris, a dildo in the anus-pleasurable distractions that no one, not father, brother, lover or country can take away.

"Sex and the City" did much to change men's opinions of women, but more than this, it helped to change women's opinions of themselves, even though for many, masturbation continues to be a hushed topic, something better left out of polite chitchat. Samantha and her chums attracted (and still attract) a huge following, women from all over the world who tuned in week after week, not to see Samantha triumph or fail with one man or another, but to see how she coped with her own wants and needs. In this way, a whole new generation of women was born, women who are more open to discussing sex and sexuality. Thus, a new breed of women emerged who think about sex just as much as men, who aren't afraid to go after and get it. Though studies show time and again women masturbate far less frequently than men, this simply doesn't mean women are any less horny. A man might jerk off a dozen times a week, whereas a woman might finger herself once a month-but in the end, who's to say that once isn't enough or that a guy might have to try twelve different times to have the same mind-blowing orgasm a woman gets right the first time around?

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