The Evolution of Female Masturbation in Pop Music

5788184739_67d37015d4_oIf you still remember Hailee Steinfeld as a 14-year-old girl who rocked twinned braids and got an Oscar nomination for True Grit, prepare yourself for her transformation. The now-legal adult recently released a music video for her first single, “Love Myself,” and it’s packed with some serious sass. While the song ostensibly centers around building self-esteem and dancing like no one is watching, both the lyrics and Steinfeld’s “SELF SERVICE” leotard hint at its real subject matter: female masturbation—and how awesome it is.

Whether you’re thrilled or appalled by pop stars singing about self-pleasure, pop music has tiptoed around—and sometimes outright debated—the practice and politics of female masturbation since Cyndi Lauper sported a Technicolor hairdo. Yet the context, language and intent of the debate has changed dramatically over time. Check out the slideshow below to find out how.

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user Lucas Jorklicensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Carter Sherman Headshot


Carter Sherman is a Ms. editorial intern and a rising senior at Northwestern University, where she studies journalism and international studies. Follow her on Instagram at @heyyymizcarter.


  1. I’m a fat old lady and haven’t had a partner in more than 25 years. If it wasn’t for self love, I’d have no love at all. In my imagination I’m still 25, hot and sexy. It keeps me going. Rock on!

  2. What about Tori Amos “Icicle”??

  3. What about “Touch Myself” by T-Boz from TLC, Toni Braxton’s “You’re Making Me High” and Macy Gray just released a song about vibrators called B.O.B.

  4. Feelin Myself anyone?? or are we just going to comepletely ignore the two most prominent black female artists of the era and give all of our attention to some irrelevant young white girl

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