How can I encourage my nice explore her body without shame?
May 14, 2012 5:46 PM   Subscribe

I am a virtual aunt to a young woman who has never masturbated. She believes that she needs to learn, but she is worried that god will stop loving her.

She comes from a Catholic background but is questioning her church (though not her faith in some kind of loving god). Are there any resources, especially books, that come from a spiritual perspective that talk about how a woman can explore herself, and will NOT be judgmental? I have searched and am at a loss. Thank you hive mind. You are my only hope.
posted by Fenriss to Religion & Philosophy (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How old is she?
posted by ottereroticist at 6:07 PM on May 14, 2012

This is really her own thing to work out.

What about sources that aren't sex manual related? I was recently catching up on old episodes of This American Life, and I caught a beautiful story by Dan Savage about losing (and later regaining) his faith, his relationship with his family, and his sexuality. I think there's even an explicit mention of masturbation being obviously good in it.
posted by Sara C. at 6:11 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

She is 20, and has had unsatisfying intercourse once.

Thanks for the Dan savage link.
posted by Fenriss at 6:21 PM on May 14, 2012

This episode of This American Life has a segment by a former evangelical Christian on dealing with "lustful thoughts" and masturbation when he was younger. He moves beyond it when a minister tells him that it's taking up too much of his focus and he should just go ahead and let himself do it. The episode is about the ten commandments - this section is the adultery one.
posted by Ragged Richard at 6:31 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Well, paragraph 2352 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church pretty much says that it's wrong, though it does say the degree of culpability assigned to the individual depends on a number of factors and, in some cases, the guilt is minimal. Still, a pretty tight requirement IMO.

I believe it is generally believed by Christians that God will never stop loving us, but I could not find a specific citation of that in the Catechism (though it may be in there and I missed it).

I realize you are looking for positive, non-judgmental books, so the above is just so you know to steer clear of the official publications, they don't seem to help.
posted by forthright at 6:57 PM on May 14, 2012

Since you've asked, I think you need to gently, insistently and confidently nudge her to opening her mind to moral and spiritual ambiguity, at the very least. Lives get lived, within crazy-ass religious commitment. Especially the Catholic Church, it's practically a pre-requisite that you are skeptical and living a separate reality. Weird but true.

It won't help with the Catholic part, but it will definitely help with the body part: Our Bodies, Our Selves.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:04 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

This may not help as it is rational and her issue is not at all rational: It has been said that "beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" (not by Benjamin Franklin, btw). However, I think the most concrete proof of that is that (1) orgasm feels great and (2) our hands reach our parts.
posted by plinth at 7:06 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Scarleteen is a good sexuality resource for younger folk in general. There's a bunch of discussion of issues with sexuality and religion, and the answers given are respectful, non-judgmental, and sometimes from a Christian perspective (here's an example).
posted by feckless at 7:40 PM on May 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Given her background, I think it might be relatively easy to stop believing intellectually/consciously in certain religious teachings but very hard to shake the visceral reaction she has to masturbation. If she has an irrational aversion to masturbation, I wonder if it would be helpful for her to find small, non-sexual ways to start enjoying her body--getting a full-body massage, taking a nice bath, relaxing in a luxurious silk robe.

She may have learned (or assumed) that any self-touching, any enjoyment of her own body was sinful and dirty--that her body itself is dirty. That sort of mindset can leave a person feeling like a head, hands, and feet, with no clue what's going on (or what to do) with the stuff in the middle, only a general uneasiness that it's there. It's a big leap from being a head-hands-feet person to being sexually present (alone or with a partner). Rather than make that big leap in one go, I'd suggest she work on being present and comfortable in her whole body, until masturbation just feels natural.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:26 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

via google, there's a book developed by the Unitarian Universalist Church and the United Church of Christ. It is used with workshops but may be suitable for solitary study.

Our Whole Lives, Adults
Author: Richard S. Kimball
ISBN: 9781558963986

"Using values, communication skills and spirituality as starting points, this program explores sexuality issues for adults of all ages. Builds understanding of healthy sexual relationships, affirms diversity and helps participants accept and affirm their own sexuality throughout their lives. Suggests 12 workshops, plus introductory and concluding sessions, but adaptable for many formats."

Example workshop:

You may want to attend a Unitarian church with her for a bit. Furthermore, a local workshop leader may be willing to do one-on-one counseling on the subject, along with her spirituality in general.

She is 20, and has had unsatisfying intercourse once.
The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written [Paperback]
From the woman-friendly sex toy shoppe and boutique.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2012

All of the above is good, though this can be awfully intimidating to absorb. You can leave the frank sex talk for the books, and that's probably better.

But reassurance from you would be awesome, and ways to talk about ideas without having to be clinical or go beyond her comfort level would be a big gift. Sure, euphemisms have done some damage in mis-education, but they can also open the door to conversations that would be prohibitively embarrassing otherwise. The idea that grown women do actually acknowledge sexual desire and have found polite ways to talk about it is a pretty huge revelation.

Also, for the intermediate course, if you happen to have any friends that are nurses, well, they see freaking everything and have had to explain all kinds of things to all kinds of people while being both kind and really brutally frank.
posted by desuetude at 10:25 PM on May 14, 2012

Also note that the issue with male masturbation is based around God's Genesis 38:3-10 statement that Onan was a sinner for spilling his seed on the ground. This is not an issue for her, so there's not much in the way of specific biblical authority for banning female masturbation.
posted by jaduncan at 1:32 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

paragraph 2352 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church
What the Catechism says is irrelevant. The Catholic Church, despite what the Vatican might want us to believe, is not a monolith of single thought. The Catholic Church is well over a billion people. It is ridiculous to expect bright line rules will work for everyone.

There are PLENTY of people within the Catholic church that have opinions and valules at odds with the Vatican. Look at the American nuns.

The solution to her issue with Catholicism is not to find some loop-hole in the Canon Law that will make her feel better. The solution is to make her understand that it is ok to be part of the Church and disagree with some of its teachings. People are allowed to stand in the back of the church and rattle their saber.

The Church's teachings on masturbation are archaic. She needs to understand that it is ok to think for herself.
posted by Flood at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2012

As a former Christian who also dealt with this problem, I weighed two sins against each other. Was it worse to have premarital intercourse, or to take care of matters myself? I reasoned that keeping myself a virgin took precedence, and proceeded to enjoy myself happily. I wasn't in this girl's situation, as I knew how to pleasure myself, but I felt guilty about it until I was able to rationalize it.
posted by cereselle at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2012

« Older Would this be considered self-plagiarism?   |   Scopophobia Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.