Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird perfectly portrayed the tumultuous, complicated and profound relationship most girls have with their mothers. Your mother is your first friend, who is often entrusted with the responsibility to inform you about all the ordeals you’re expected to face as a woman, from getting your period to dealing with your first heartbreak. She’s your friend and confidant. But one thing that remains to be a taboo in most households and society, in general, is the act of a female pleasuring herself. In a country where sex education is non-existent or limited to abstinence, the thought of a woman masturbating is appalling, to say the least. Not just masturbating, women have been vilified for centuries for doing anything beyond ‘what their job is’ in a man’s world. Oh, you want to heal people suffering from illnesses no one can cure? You’ll be burned at stake for witchcraft! Oh, you want to prioritise ambition over starting a family? You’re suppressing your maternal instincts, you power-hungry woman! It’s no secret that many women feel shameful about their sexuality. As a woman, you’re not allowed to have sexual desires whatsoever. Particularly, masturbation has a deep stigma surrounding it. Even if a woman is entitled to an orgasm, it must come from a man, because we live in a society that’s laced with sexism and misogyny. But why are we still talking about masturbation in hushed tones? Female masturbation is just as normal as its male counterpart. It’s not dirty and definitely doesn’t taint your character. In fact, masturbation has an expansive range of health benefits. For one, masturbation has shown to reduce stress, improve quality of sleep and even helps with menstrual pain relief. And if the guy you’re casually hooking up with isn’t making sparks fly, then masturbation is an easy way to climax and take charge of your own euphoria. Moreover, communication is key to a successful sexual relationship. But how will you convey your likes and dislikes in bed when you are yourself unaware of them? Masturbating is a way to embrace your sexuality and discover your preferences. If you’re curious about masturbating but never had the courage to do this, take this as a sign from the universe. But how do you get started? First, find something that gets you excited. It doesn’t necessarily have to be porn, since most of it is produced for cis men and might not do anything for you. You can go old school and indulge in an erotica or just let your imagination run wild. As far as techniques are concerned, there is no one technique that works for everyone, give different things a try to find what works for you. Masturbation is the safest way to get an orgasm. But if you’re thinking of taking it to the next level and involve sex toys in to the play, then it’s important to be smart about it. Make sure you buy high- quality sex toys from verified retailers and avoid cheap toys at all costs. Luckily, things seem to be turning around, especially with female-centric movies and shows in popular media. Audrey Plaza’s summer of sexual exploration in The To Do List and Natalia Dyer’s attempt to navigate shame and confusion for feeling aroused in an intense catholic environment in Yes God Yes are two great examples. That being said, watching a movie or a few words of encouragement isn’t going to suddenly rectify the regressive state of female sexuality. But it’s important to start conversations in your circles and explore ways to get to know your body better. And it’s never too late to take Hailee Steinfeld’s advice to love yourself.