So, I’m guest blogging at Feministe right now and, in my first post, I pointed out how annoyed I get about the sexual double-standard when we talk about kids exploring their sexuality for the first time. When boys start to masturbate, it’s just natural; when girls do it, it must be a sign of abuse. This is the concern lots of Slate readers are having about the masturbation scene with Sally from the most recent episode of “Mad Men.” From my post:
Child abuse is a serious issue and, truthfully, is most often perpetrated by family members and friends. It’s not impossible Gene was an abuser, and maybe that’s where the show’s producers are taking it. But honestly, a ten-year-old boy masturbating wouldn’t arouse the same suspicions, and it’s not crazy that a ten-year-old would start exploring his or her sexuality. We have a tendency to think of the middle part of the last century as this pristine era, right before the sexplosion of the 60s, in which girls wouldn’t have known how to do those things. But think about it: did anyone have to tell you what to do? We certainly don’t talk much about masturbation now, and lots of girls do it.
It doesn’t mean, of course, the premature sexual knowledge isn’t a cause for concern. But that’s not what masturbation is. Masturbation is pretty normal, and it’s pretty normal for pre-pubescent girls to start figuring out their bodies. That’s particularly true if they have a creepy boy-neighbor-friend-who-has-a-crush-on-their-mom that tells you sex is when the boy pees inside the girl.
Are you all suddenly suspicious of Grandpa Gene, too?