Sister Margaret Farley published a book called Just Love, a Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, and because of its content (in addition to supporting both male and female masturbation, she also endorses gay marriage and doesn’t look down on divorce), she’s coming under fire for preaching “radical feminist ideas.” We think it’s important to note that Sister Farley did warn that the book shouldn’t be used by Catholic educators, so it’s not like she was deliberately, directly, nor overtly preaching against the church’s beliefs to its followers.
With all due respect to the Catholic church and its followers, what her higher-ups are calling “radical feminist ideas,” a lot of us call “common sense.” Because guess what? Masturbation is pretty popular, not all marriages work, and not allowing gays to marry is sort of creating a “separate but equal” doctrine that was tossed out with the first Civil Rights Movement. It’s one thing to be too scared or complacent to want move forward, but this kind of outdated thinking is setting people back.
The other thing is, the people who oppose Farley’s teachings in the book probably haven’t even read it through carefully and just had knee-jerk reactions to words like “masturbation.” In the tome, she actually says masturbation–especially female masturbation–wouldn’t necessarily be a substitute for sexual relationships among committed partners, but actually a way to make them better. She explains that both male and female masturbation let partners figure out what gets them off, which will make sex with their partner better later on. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
But that’s exactly what bugs them the most. The excerpt they cite most in badmouthing Farley’s work is the following bit on female masturbation, in which she explains how female masturbation benefits not only women but their husbands: “[Many women] have found great good in self-pleasuring–perhaps especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure–something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers.” She finishes by saying that female masturbation “actually serves relationships rather than hindering them.”
We agree! If masturbation can help you in your sex life, it’ll inevitably help your relationship as well–because if you’re with a guy who makes sex feel less than stellar, you’re not going to be happy. And when you’re miserable, what’s the point of being attached? It sounds like Farley may have been pointing to the fact that maybe–just maybe–female masturbation may actually prevent the also-looked-down-upon divorce epidemic.
We understand the thinking that sex should only be for procreation (though goodness knows a lot of us don’t agree with it). But the reason sex is supposed to feel good is because if it didn’t, we as a species wouldn’t do it–and then we’d probably die out. We also understand wanting to adhere to old standards and traditions, but that’s not always a good idea to sustain a system or institution–think of it this way: If we didn’t change our thinking at all over time, girls still wouldn’t get an education or be allowed to vote, and women and girls wouldn’t be allowed to wear pants. Ridiculous, right?!
Whether or not you think evolution is what got us here, sometimes it’s necessary to survive. Perhaps if the Catholic church evolved its thinking on female masturbation–among other things–there would be less conflict between nuns and the Vatican–and more women and girls devoted to its teachings.
Do you think that female masturbation is wrong? Do you think Sister Margaret Farley was wrong to write about female masturbation in her book, knowing that the Vatican wouldn’t be happy with it? Do you see moral issues with masturbation? Tell us in the comments!