Remember Hailee Steinfeld, the little girl from True Grit? The 18-year-old actress just released her first single, "Love Myself," which has a theme that's not often celebrated in pop music: female masturbation.
At first blush, "Love Myself" seems like a conventional female self-empowerment anthem. But with lyrics like "When I get chills at night/ I feel it deep inside without you/ Know how to satisfy/ keeping that tempo right without you," it's pretty obvious that Steinfeld is referring to good old-fashioned self-love.
While it's somewhat surprising that the child actress would launch her solo career with a self-pleasure anthem, it's also not unprecedented. Steinfeld is one of many female pop stars who have celebrated solo sex and its numerous health benefits. Here are nine lessons we learned about female masturbation from music — whether we realized it or not.
1. Don't be ashamed.
Britney Spears has a history of risqué songs, but "Touch of my Hand" is about as unsubtle an ode to female masturbation as you can get. With lyrics like "I love myself/ It's not a sin," the song doesn't just celebrate female masturbation — it also tells us not to be ashamed of it. Considering that studies on masturbation have found that less than half as many women as men had recently masturbated, that's an important message to take to heart.
2. Masturbation is sexy.
The Divinyls' 1990 classic "I Touch Myself" is essentially about telling a partner they're so desirable, you can't help but touch yourself when you think about them. What could be sexier than that?
3. Finding yourself sexy is OK.
What happens when you come home from a night out and catch a glimpse of how hot you look? If you're early aughts R&B artist Tweet, who recorded the 2002 single "Oops (Oh My)" with Missy Elliot, you hop in the sack for an extended solo session. Considering that more than 90% of women in some studies admit to having "I hate my body" moments, masturbation is a novel (not to mention awesome) way to boost your self-esteem.
4. Everybody does it.
According to the legendary Ms. Cyndi Lauper in the 1983 song "She-Bop," "she-bopping" and "he-bopping" (her very-1980s code words for diddling the fiddle) is the hottest trend in town. That's probably why the song was put on the conservative Parents Music Resource Centre's Filthy Fifteen. But even though Reagan-era parents might have tried to stop their teens from touching themselves, thanks to the power of Lauper's music, they continued to she-bop and he-bop nonetheless.
5. It's OK to do it frequently — and by frequently, we mean "a lot."
If "She Bop" taught us that everyone masturbates, then Janet Jackson's "If" is proof that there are some women who do it frequently. "I've closed my eyes and thought of us a hundred different ways," Janet sings in the 1993 song. "I've gotten there so many times I wonder/ how about you." And while the stigma around masturbation suggests that only sluts or bad girls touch themselves regularly, if Janet can do it "day and night, night and day," then there's probably nothing wrong with it.
6. Masturbation isn't just for single girls.
Self-love isn't just for the single ladies. That's the argument put forth by Pink's 2010 song "Fingers," in which she engages in a little late-night spelunking while her partner is beside her, singing: "When it's late at night and you're fast asleep/ I let my fingers do the walking." Lesson learned: Even if you have a partner who pushes all your buttons, that doesn't mean that you don't want to masturbate. In fact, according to some researchers, masturbation can actually help you and your partner figure out what turns you on in the bedroom.
7. Your vibrator can be your best friend.
Who else but Macy Gray would sing a love song to her vibrator? In the 2015 song "B.O.B.," the "I Try" singer warbles an ode to her favorite sex toy, featuring the chorus: "B. is for battery/ O. operated/ B. is for better 'cause he's not complicated." The tune is catchy and the video adorable, but most importantly, the song normalizes the idea that masturbating with a sex toy is awesome. And according to recent polls about vibrator use, more than 50% of American women agree with the sentiment.
8. Guess what? It's normal!
St. Vincent's "Birth in Reverse" isn't all about masturbation, but with the lyrics "Oh, what an ordinary day/ Take out the garbage, masturbate," that's sort of the point: Women touching themselves shouldn't be a taboo act that's shrouded in secrecy. In fact, it's something you can do between errands, right after emptying the trash.
According to a 2002 study from Pennsylvania State University, women speak openly about masturbation far less often than men do. So the fact that St. Vincent casually refers to it in passing as part of her daily routine is incredibly empowering. Maybe the next time you have a few minutes between doing the dishes and cleaning the bathroom, you should put on some Cyndi, Janet or Britney and give yourself a little love.