In Defense of Summer (And Manic Pixie Dream Girls everywhere)

Illustration by Seamus Gallagher
Illustration by Seamus Gallagher. Click image for more!

The writer behind the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” called for us all to stop using the phrase, and even apologized for ever inventing it, in a recent Salon article. Nathan Rabin first used the phrase to describe the sexism inherent in writing Elizabethtown’s character Claire, but now sees the term spinning out of control. Rabin agreed with Ruby Sparks writer/star Zoe Kazan who said, “I think it’s turned into this unstoppable monster where people use it to describe things that don’t really fall under that rubric.” 

While it is always important to point out sexism in pop culture, as was Rabin’s goal, the phrase has become another weapon to wield against women — both fictitious and real. Leaving Rabin’s explanation in the dust, “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” has become a label critics can slap on any quirky woman or female character to dismiss her as vapid, fake, or just plain annoying. The intention in the phrase has been lost: to point out that the MPDG, in Rabin’s words, “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Somehow, the writer-directors responsible for creating this trope get off scot-free, but women are targeted for participating in it. 

Take for example, Zooey Deschanel, once called “the girly girl everyone loves to hate” by Slate writer Amanda Hess. Last year, Hess wrote: “In short, everyone hates Zooey. I used to despise Deschanel’s Pinterest-pinned image, too. I hated her ukulele-accompanied olde tyme singing voice, her pink jammies Siri commercial, and her human elf routine. Most of all, I hated her blank-eyed, dress-twirling turn as the object of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s obsession in (500) Days of Summer—the role that launched 1,000 indie wet dreams.”

Deschanel’s portrayal of Summer, a role that was dubbed a MPDG, was enough to provoke hatred toward a real person — not the character she played, but Deschanel herself. Here we see how dangerous the MPDG trope can be. Sure, it sucks — like really sucks — to only see one-dimensional female characters in media, but it is downright scary that an actress could be hated so intensely for playing one in a movie. I also have to ask: where are the critics of Joseph Gordon-Levitt for playing a role that depended on the MPDG? Where are the mass eye-rolls at the writer-director who created the character in the first place? Maybe they’re out there, but the majority of criticism for the MPDG trope seems to fall squarely on women when the critique was never intended that way. This discrepancy points to the sad, hard truth that people love to hate women, and, it seems, the more feminine they are, the bigger the target. Deschanel has confronted this anti-femininity sentiment as herself and as Jess, the star of New Girl. 

Of course, Hess was never alone in her distaste for either Deschanel or the character Summer. As a long-time Zooey lover, femme, and feminist, I have always appreciated having a Hollywood role model that didn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. Deschanel has always made me proud to call myself a fan whether for making a thoughtful comment about roles for women in Hollywood, or her femme-spirational take down of the misogynist, grrrl-hating deriding of femininity, her commitment to creating a positive online space for girls, or her body of work that has yet to spark my feminist ire. 

As someone who has grown tired of hearing the criticism that Deschanel only plays one role, depends too much on quirky, clumsy-girl tropes, etc., I was practically over-the-moon to read Hess’ confession of being wooed by Jess, the multi-dimensional character Deschanel plays on New Girl. Hess admitted her surprise that Deschanel could portray a character that plays up to the “adorkable” image, yet has a sex-positive attitude and demonstrates sexual agency, is driven and ambitious in her career, and shows an emotional range. Finally, a Deschanel character that shows depth! Way better than that other made-for-the-male-gaze Summer Finn!

Wait, what? Did we watch (500) Days of Summer all wrong? my fellow feminist friend asked me. 

Summer is too often and too easily dismissed due to the MPDG categorization (and perhaps so are MPDGs everywhere), and I echo Rabin and Kazan’s concerns that this term has spun out of control and tries to encompass characters that don’t really fit the criteria. 

This is not the first time Summer Finn has been accused of existing simply to fulfill Tom Hansen’s fantasy, but she deserves much more credit than that. The narrative follows the perspective of Tom Hansen, so a straight-forward viewing may draw that conclusion, sure — but if we can look beyond what we are being shown and understand this framing simply as a characteristic of the plot, we can see that Summer has more depth than she’s given credit for, and why she can absolutely be understood as a positive, feminist-friendly female character. 

Zooey Deschanel’s characters are often criticized for portraying a girlish, almost helpless, sort of womanhood (the evidence for this is often Deschanel’s large eyes, straight cut bangs, and ultra-feminine manner of dress). I often wonder who these critics are talking about; which of Deschanel’s characters plays dumb, relinquishes her independence, reverts to a child-like state? Certainly not Summer. 

In the film, Summer is clear about what she wants, and is not afraid to ask for — nay, demand — respect for her desires and boundaries, and will not be worn down. Summer strongly states her position from the beginning that she does not a) believe in love and b) want to be someone’s girlfriend. In true macho form, Tom refuses to accept this clearly-stated position and proceeds to project his expectations of a monogamous, doting relationship on Summer, despite her consistent insisting that the relationship stay non-romantic. At one of their first meetings, the office karaoke outing, she tells the boys she doesn’t have a boyfriend because “I don’t want one” and “I like being on my own. Relationships are messy and people’s feelings get hurt. Who needs it?” Later on, Summer gives Tom the “I’m not looking for anything serious” speech during their first trip to Ikea. A while later, after a fight in which Tom insists she act more like a girlfriend, Summer says, “I like you Tom, I just don’t want a relationship.” 

Summer refuses to play into the damsel in distress trope and resists Tom’s unsolicited attempts to step in and “save her.” There’s a scene where Tom and Summer are having a drink at a bar, and Summer is hit on by a strange man. She politely declines his advances, but as he persists, Tom decides it’s his business, and assaults the stranger. Summer objects and later tells Tom she can’t believe he would act so uncool. “Was that for me? Was that for my benefit? Next time don’t, because I don’t need your help.” Summer demonstrates her strength, independence, and existence outside and beyond Tom over and over again. I suspect critics of Summer (and other Deschanel characters) do little more than take one look at her girlish hairstyle, cutesy dresses, and the size of her eyeballs before they draw their conclusions. The criticisms seem to be more about a type of femininity and womanhood and Deschanel herself, than the characters they’re supposedly describing, and that’s a whole other problem in itself (hello, misogyny). 

Summer is subversive, at least to Hollywood standards, in that she seeks a sexual relationship while foregoing the romantic aspect, sticks to her guns and refuses to settle for the less-than-desirable Tom just to simply be paired-off, and rejects all the supposed “romantic” facades women are supposed to swoon for. As a female character, Summer stands up just fine. These are the nuances we miss when we reach for labels like MPDG that make it all too easy to dismiss a character or film wholesale. 

The idea that Summer’s purpose is to delight Tom and fulfill his one-true-love fantasy has no stronger believer than Tom himself. What I love as a feminist viewer of this film is watching this illusion get shattered over and over again, much to Tom’s surprise. (500) Days of Summer’s non-linear timeline allows Tom and the viewers to look back on certain moments in his relationship with Summer and realize that the intimacy and love he felt was never truly there; it was all Tom’s projections of an unattainable fantasy on a girl who was never willing to play along. For example, when we look back, we see a smile that Tom thought was filled with love was actually the polite kind you shoot someone who tells a bad joke or is boring you to tears in order to spare their feelings. 

As it turns out, Summer doesn’t fit neatly with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl prototype (I wonder if any character does?) and actually actively resists the classification with lines like: “I don’t feel comfortable being someone’s girlfriend. Actually, I don’t feel comfortable being anyone’s anything.” Tom, through his own willful ignorance, edits and censors her until he can squeeze her into that box, a series of moves that is revealed as we revisit moments and learn, along with Tom, who Summer Finn really is. 

Not only does the MPDG label make it easy to overlook complexities in female characters, but it also works to focus on the shortcomings of female characters, which often results in an unfair amount of criticism being levied at women who take these roles, rather than writers or directors who create them. There are other barometers of sexism in film. I would like to see a more thorough examination of the male characters. Take for example, Tom Hansen. Tom, like Nice Guys everywhere, tries to conjure a relationship out of thin air in a selfish attempt to entertain himself and give his otherwise disappointing life some meaning, because he deserves as much for being a nice, white, hetero guy, right? 

Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Tom Hansen in the film, can see what I’m talking about. He told Playboy: “I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is. He develops a mildly delusional obsession over a girl onto whom he projects all these fantasies. He thinks she’ll give his life meaning because he doesn’t care about much else going on in his life.” 

As a feminist viewer, I appreciate (500) Days of Summer for not bowing to the almighty male privilege. Finally, a film where the perfect couple isn’t so perfect (or so much a couple), the guy doesn’t get the girl, and for all of his pouting and tantrums, Tom doesn’t get what we wants. Eventually, he has to pick himself up and make something out of his life all on his own. Even if it is all a ploy to get Summer back, he doesn’t get her back. Even if Tom sees Summer in a negative light, the audience doesn’t, thanks to the other female characters that are similarly unimpressed by his “poor me” shtick and call him on his B-S. The little sister and his post-Summer blind date are very understated but very valuable roles in dismantling male privilege here. Tom does meet another girl in the end, and we can only hope he learned enough in the last 500 days to not try to pull that Manic Pixie Dream Girl shit on this one. 

The entire premise of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is offensive to women. By (gross) definition, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists to prop up the main male character and make him feel special and important in lieu of pursuing her own goals and happiness, but Summer refuses to be a prop and instead unapologetically, though not unkindly, knocks Tom down along with his archaic fantasies. Summer resists Tom’s expectations and, simultaneously, the traditional narrative of the romantic comedy and the sexist script that says women desire monogamous relationships and men don’t want to be tied down. 

What (500) Days of Summer does do is shed light on how much work the male characters actually have to put in to make the Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing work, and how they do it. It forces the audience to shift our focus, questioning if the heart-crushing, oddball, beautiful, fairy-like girl is really the problem here (or really exists at all). The non-linear timeline allows us to see what a difference a little perspective makes, and poses the question: how different would the story be if it was told from Summer’s point of view? Would we still criticize Summer (and Deschanel by extension) for being too goofy and trying to fulfill Tom’s fantasy? I doubt it. We’d see a girl with a personality, goals, desires, and agency, who’s with this kinda-okay guy who hinges more and more on the boring and pathetic. After all, Summer only seems so zany next to Tom. Tom, who thinks he and Summer are the only two people who like The Smiths. Tom, who is struck by the fact that Summer also likes Magritte and Hockney, two very famous artists whose names you could pick up after a single high school art history class. Tom, who thinks he’s Han-fucking-Solo after a single sexual encounter. Tom, who is scandalized by the “penis” game. I mean, what a guy. How could anyone get bored of that?

The same goes for all the Manic Pixie Dream Girls out there. She’s a real girl who gets twisted in the mind of sexist, boring guy. What’s so wrong with this role is that men continue to write it, proving that they see women as an object, something to use to entertain, distract, and delight themselves with. In writing and viewing women in this way, men get to pin all responsibility for their lives on women, whether for giving it meaning (when they’re in love) or completely destroying it (when they break up). While there is something to be said for not drooling all over the crumbs Hollywood tosses us, it’s all too easy to scoff at female roles that are supposed to be “alternative” and deem them not good enough, but fail to acknowledge that patriarchy and misogyny are still the driving forces behind these shallow female characters.

Instead of criticizing women like Deschanel who opt to play these characters, why not criticize those who continue to write these caricatures of women? Why not criticize the male actors and characters for relying too heavily on the eye-roll-inducing “Nice Guys Finish Last” trope, and let the women be as goofy or cutesy as they want as long as they have integrity, agency, and are getting closer to resembling real-life women? 

Using the MPDG term doesn’t allow for such criticisms, so I agree, it’s time to lay the phrase to rest, and hopefully — if we match the second part of Rabin’s call to “all try to write better, more nuanced and multidimensional female characters: women with rich inner lives and complicated emotions and total autonomy, who might strum ukuleles or dance in the rain even when there are no men around to marvel at their free-spiritedness” — the trope won’t be far behind. 

Period WHOAs

I realize this may sound terribly cliche coming from someone on their period, but something is pissing me off, and I swear it’s more than PMS.

I have been noticing it more and more. It follows me to work and it’s even sprung up in my own bathroom directed at me by a box of tampons.

The thing I’m talking about is PERIOD SHAME. (cue lightning, scary music, etc)

You know, the driving force behind the use of blue liquid as a stand-in for menstrual blood in pad commercials. The thing that enforces separate girls’ and boys’ health classes in elementary school. The thing that keeps male-bodied people in the dark (and hell, a lot of female-bodied folks, too!) about what the hell is a period anyway? You know, the thing that makes us say things like feminine paper and sanitary napkin, and call it a period, because even naming it is too shameful. And, the thing that keeps my co-workers handing me tampons like we are spies exchanging top-secret documents.

The Tampon Slip

My discovery of this little maneuver is a result of my chronic forgetfulness. Without fail, at least once a period I find myself at work sans tampons and asking a co-worker to supply me to the end of my shift.

Okay, you should know now that I work in a diner where I am required to wear an apron. Well, more like a pouch. Anyway, yes, I wear a pouch at work.

On two separate occasions, with two separate co-workers-turned-tampon-dealers, I have found myself privy to the oh-so-discreetly-executed Tampon Slip. 

I could be standing at the computer, punching in a customer’s order, holding a tray of drinks, or standing around doing absolutely nothing (I do this a lot) when I feel the teensiest movement in my pouch pocket. My co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer has slipped a tampon into my pouch so subtly that even I barely notice.

And there you have it, The Tampon Slip.

Why is The Tampon Slip necessary? Why does it need to be carried out with such attention to discretion? Couldn’t they just hand me a tampon like they would hand me any other regular item?

Okay sure, maybe I’m very busy, or maybe my spider hands are full of plates, drinks and credit cards. Maybe. But most often, I am willing to bet that The Tampon Slip is meant to save me from PERIOD SHAME.

If my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer handed me a tampon like a regular item, anyone could see and know that I have my period (SHAME!) or that they carry tampons and therefore could also have their period (SHAME!) and probably a whole slew of other shameful assumptions based on absorbency, brand, etc.

The truth is, my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer can’t hand me a tampon like any regular item because a tampon isn’t a regular item. A tampon is a signifier of menstruation aka uterus-ovaries-vagina aka woman-ness or trans*-ness aka inferiority.

Us period-havers are supposed to keep quiet about menstruating to keep the non-period-havers feeling safe, superior and unburdened with any awareness or knowledge of our bodies and how they function.

If my co-worker-turned-tampon-dealer handed me a tampon like a regular item, it would disrupt the illusion we all play into that periods don’t happen. The non-period-havers would feel unsafe and scared because they would suddenly have to deal with the fact that periods exist. They would maybe even have to grope in their brains for some of the knowledge gleaned from those sex-segregated health classes back in elementary school.

Us period-havers would feel ashamed and embarrassed that we failed to uphold our part of the illusion, and everyone around us would know that we, too, have bodies that function as bodies will, and are probably dirty and morally corrupt.

Even the company I hand over my greasy-diner-dollars to every month (that I will call Tam-pox), insists that my period is “unclean” and I need to be “discreet” about its existence.

Right on the box, Tam-pox proudly shouts (practically) that its tampons have “amazingly cleanprotection” – with the word “clean” emphasized.

Inside the instructions and usage information, Tam-pox even kindly provides tips for discreet disposal.

“After you have inserted the tampon, place the used applicator back into the discreet wrapper. Grasp the bottom of the wrapper (the end with the applicator inside) and fold upwards toward the top of the wrapper that has the used applicator inside. Although this process is optional, it will give you optimal disposal discretion.”

If I could even decipher what that meant, I might find that I already do it. But to have it included as an optional-yet-encouraged step in using a tampon is ridiculous. I CAN’T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS!

I guess what I don’t understand is how Tam-pox, one of biggest names in menstrual products, can be so period-negative? (And why, when I google “period positive” are the first results about pregnancy tests?) Is it too much to ask for a little period-positivity when I need it most?

Perhaps is about time I had some adventures in alternative menstrual products. Tam-pox, you and your period-negativity are banned from my bathroom, once and for all.

I love Gilmore Girls, but…

I just watched the episode “The Big One” (Season 3, Episode 16) and the message it sends to young, teenaged, college-bound girls is pretty puke-tastic.

Paris had sex with Jamie (and we’re supposed to be shocked) and has to hash it out with Rory to figure out if it was a good or a bad thing. The questions Rory asks that will supposedly reveal whether it was the right or wrong decision are:

– were you safe?

– was he nice to you?

– did the two of you discuss it?

Gaping hole in the line of questioning: did you have fun? did you want to? how was it? Anything along those lines is probably necessary to figure out if sex is good or bad.

Loralai overhears this conversation and finds out Rory has never had sex. She whispers to her self “I got the good kid” and tells Rory she’s going to take her shopping. Because good kids don’t have sex, bad kids have sex. And virginity of course should be rewarded with new shoes (because she’s a girl and what girl doesn’t love new shoes, right?).

Then, Paris doesn’t get into Harvard, and of course she blames it on losing her virginity. Again, because having sex is a punishable offense. If there’s no pregnancy scare or STI symptom, the TV universe will still punish you somehow for being a big, dirty whore.

Rory does get into Harvard. And Yale. And Princeton. Because she’s “the biggest virgin in the world.”

Puke, puke, puke.

Porn and Disney: providers of a stunted sense of reality since the dawn of time

I am re-posted this image that I swiped off the fabulous Julie Lalonde because, as she would say, it’s funny because it’s true.

While being a hilarious and adorable cartoon, this image also got me thinking, as most things tend to, about gender, sex, and where we all fit in.

Chicken or the egg?

This cartoon begs the question, does art imitate life (in this case, movies)? Or does art manipulate life? I think we can agree the ‘insatiable whore’ and ‘prince charming’ are fabricated ideals, or at the very least incredibly unattainable fantasies. But where do these ideals and fantasies come from? Are they identities that are simply created to further a cheesy plot line, or are they born from actual desires harboured by real people? And if this is what we really want, why do we want it? Because we saw it in a movie, and that seemed to work out nicely? In other words: do we want it because we really want it? Or do we want it because we’re taught to want it? Of course, I’m going with the latter.

The second question I found myself asking is why this cartoon is so clearly gendered. I know a man or two who have an idea of the “perfect woman.” While she isn’t necessarily an “insatiable whore,” she certainly is an unattainable ideal nonetheless. And who ever believed that indulging in a little pornography was a boys-only activity? And believe me, I’m not talking about those bullshit “porn-for-women” books about house husbands. Please.

What’s a girl to do?

Maybe we won’t ever be able to figure out why we are so easily manipulated by cheesy soundtracks and so-bad-it’s-good dialogue, but the best we can do is strive to unlearn the bullshit. My friend recently sent me this clip from an episode of Friends:

As she pointed out, this episode cleverly and humourously dealt with the unrealistic expectations a strict porn-only diet can lead to. I’m not trying to argue that there is anything wrong with porn, because there isn’t, but it just goes to show how important a real and honest sex education is to keep things in perspective.

A sexual appetite should be satisfied with a balanced diet of education and fantasy.

The same rules apply here that apply to consuming anything: if we want to be smart and responsible consumers, we have to question: where does it come from? How do we get it? And, ultimately, are we okay with the answers?

As for the prince charming problem… maybe it’s time we got a real and honest education in relationships too.

I can almost forget about “13 Going on 30″…

After a seven month hiatus, I recently returned to my home town and was able to enjoy all the perks of life at home: nothing I ate came from the microwave, for once my bank account gained some rather than lost some, and I had the distinct pleasure of getting my teeth cleaned.

Though I still maintain the dentist is often more embarrassing and uncomfortable than a trip to the gyno (um, ever had your teeth sand-blasted?) I was delighted to come to some surprising realizations.

While I don’t know exactly how many hours I spent in dentist waiting rooms over the break, I can attest that it was long enough to find myself flipping through back issues of Canadian fashion magazines. My delight came from reading about ladies with some pretty bad-ass things to say.

How bad-ass?

I bought the March issue of Flare just so I could give covergirl Jennifer Garner some well-deserved props.

“Garner’s motivation for adding ‘producer’ to her already packed resume is steadfast – she wants to showcase more strong female characters.

‘In films they really want the woman to be dominated by a male lead, or you have one woman in a movie with six men and maybe she has a kooky female best friend,’ says Garner from her home in L.A.”

Hell fucking yeah, Jennifer Garner. If I was in charge of the She-bonics column in Bust, you would so be in it.

I have more to post, but first I have to figure out how to get my hands on the February 2009 issue of Chatelaine…

Is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

The following are the best questions taken from the “Heterosexual Questionnaire” in Gender in Canada, 4th Edition. Since it is awesome I felt it needed to be re-blogged.

The Heterosexual Questionnaire

1. What do you think caused your heterosexuality?

3. Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?

5. If you have never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?

10. A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?

11. Just what to do men and women do in bed together? How cn they truly know how to to please each other, being so anatomically different?

And my personal favourite:

13. Statistics show that lesbians have the lowest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Is it really safe for a woman to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle and run the risk of disease and pregnancy?

According to the book, these are questions that homosexuals are routinely asked. Replacing “hetero” with “homo” is just an awesome and hilarious illustration of how simply reversing typical situations shows the ridiculously arbitrary ways we organize ourselves and each other.

Good girls do

Guys ‘do it’ all the time, but girls don’t really ‘do it’ that much, my sister told me, carefully tiptoe-ing around the subject of masturbation. I looked at her, thinking she’s 17, into alternative culture and fashion, and will endlessly argue her progressive views about sexual orientation and transgender rights… how can SHE still cling to the old “good girls don’t” story?

“Yes they do!” I said back, unable to hold back my surprise, and apparently baffling my sister.

“They do? I don’t… do you??” she asked.

“Yes! All the time!” I continued. “Like every five minutes!”

Okay so perhaps I was exaggerating, and on the brink of completely grossing out my sister, but the basic message is still true. Girls masturbate! I swear it’s true! I remember years ago, my friend Petra telling me proudly she’d just been to the Love Shop and got herself a vibrator. I remember in high school being fascinated by my friend Astrid’s ingenious crotch-less shorts that allowed her to masturbate in any room of the house without getting caught in an awkward position.

But, over the next week or so, I found that my sister was not the only late bloomer, so to speak. I found upon incredulously recounting this story that some of my female friends with equally liberal and progressive attitudes did not only not share my surprise at all, but confessed to never going solo until they were 18 or 19 years old. By the time I’ve heard a few similar stories, I try not to act so surprised. I don’t want to sound like I can never get out of bed with myself, but I have enjoyed the activity for a long time, even since boys my age were doing it (believe me, I checked). I don’t know too much about male masturbation, being a female and, bless my lucky stars, never had so much as a mistaken run-in with the endeavour, so maybe it’s the same for them, but to me, female masturbation is endlessly important.

When women are constantly surrounded by sexism and sexual assault, how can it not be important project to make your vagina a source of love? If we can understand our vaginas as sources of pleasure and happiness, then how can we ever resent them or hold them responsible for inequalities we may encounter on a daily basis? Perhaps we can stop feeling inferior and internalizing the sexism projected on us, and realize there is nothing wrong with me or my vagina. I’m telling you ladies, if we masturbate enough we can overcome our sexist society! Ah, if only it were that simple. But I’m serious about it being an important step in gaining general and all-around lady-respect.

One reason that women don’t masturbate is the discomfort they feel getting hands-on with their body. This discomfort is for whatever reason ingrained in us through our lifelong socialization that begins in childhood. If we are able to break down that barrier and explore our bodies ourselves we will discover the wonders and pleasures that stem from our famously mysterious loins. We will start feeling great about ourselves and it won’t be because of Dove, or Pantene, it will be because of ourselves. For body issues, I prescribe an increase in masturbation.

We use sex to bond with our partners and solidify our romantic relationships, and I’m convinced we can use the same technique to create a loving bond with ourselves. During orgasm, a chemical called oxytocin is released in both female and male bodies. Oxytocin is what is called “the cuddle hormone” because it encourages emotional attachment to your sexual partner. The same chemical is released during childbirth and helps to create the remarkable bond between mother and child, so you can imagine its strength. If women gave themselves orgasms more frequently, lovey-dovey feelings could be turned inward instead of potentially wasted on fickle partners, resulting in higher levels of self respect, admiration and confidence. For self esteem issues, try masturbation!

Masturbation will also improve partner-sex, if you are so lucky to have it. Women who masturbate are more likely to achieve orgasm with their partners because they know what is going to get them off. How can we expect somebody else to know how to get us to that peak if we can’t even do it ourselves? If you are used to achieving orgasm on a regular basis, you’ll know what to ask for, what works and what won’t. Masturbation can be beneficial in partner-sex in other ways as well. For example, my friend Petra told me she has never had an orgasm during sex with her boyfriend. Thankfully, as she assured me, she can do it herself so not all is lost. After an unsuccessful and disappointing sexual encounter, you can make an excuse to leave the room or wait until they fall asleep to ensure your satisfaction. Masturbation saves relationships and staves off sexual frustration.

Furthermore, masturbation can be a serious time-saver if the mood strikes and you don’t necessarily have time to either a) wait for someone else to figure you out, b) go find that someone else or even c) cuddle and talk about your feelings. You’ll have time for your career, errands, social life and orgasms!

With all the reasons to masturbate, I can’t see what could be holding you back any longer. Perhaps it is in someone’s best interest to keep women from masturbating as it obviously leads to a never before seen hybrid of women who have high levels of self esteem, knowledge of and control during all aspects of sex and independent and successful lives besides embarking on the eternal quest for a fulfilling heterosexual relationship. It is important endeavour for every woman, feminist or not, to gain the freedom and autonomy that can be found in this simple, pleasurable act. So spread the word, masturbation: have you tried it?