A lot of my theories about misogyny, sexism, patriarchy, and generally why things are the way they are go back to how we're treated as children and the messages we receive. I've studied a lot of psychology and one thing that always stood out to me was just how powerful the human subconscious is and how well it absorbs everything that happens around you. And the younger you are, the more this is true. Little kids may seem oblivious, but they are fantastic observers - it's how they learn. And they are very sensitive.
The only reason why certain words, ideas, and actions are considered taboo by our society is that each generation is raised to believe it by a generation that were themselves raised to believe it. One of these things is masturbation, especially female masturbation. And when we do talk about it, we do so based on the belief that it's something you do when you're older, completely separate from childhood.
But the fact is that there's a stage of early childhood where kids start to explore their bodies. It's completely normal. Kids aren't born with any kind of shame for their bodies, and at certain stages they become curious about themselves. They want to touch and examine their own genitals to figure out what they're like and how they work. Many of them discover that a certain kind of touching feels good, so they want to do it.
That's right. Little kids masturbate. Even infants do sometimes. It's normal.
The problem is that this behavior is considered shameful even in adults, so when parents see their kids doing it, their reaction is often shock and horror. They react with shame and tell their kids to stop. The kids observe this reaction and learn that their bodies are shameful. Girls get this more than boys, and combined with the constant bombardment of images of women used as sex objects, this is very confusing.
That's why I'm 100% in favor of the concept that the blog Becoming SuperMommy calls "Sex Positive Parenting."
Note: I know that the term "sex-positive" will make a lot of feminists suspicious, and I had the same reaction, but this is a great piece and I think that this type of sex positivism - teaching kids that their bodies are not shameful - is important.