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Can the Gamification of Female Masturbation Remove Its Social Stigma? – GCo Exclusive

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HPT-1

Can HappyPlayTime Free Masturbation from Shame?

Masturbater. Master Baiter?

Whether you’re an expert animal trapper or a normal person who enjoys self-pleasure, the mere sound of the word masturbation isn’t pleasant for anyone. The clunky quadrisyllabic term meant to describe personal relief is so socially awkward that it’s ostensibly forbidden to talk about, despite being something every human being has engaged with at some point in our lives. Masturbation as it relates to women is an even bigger taboo to discuss, as a result of widespread dogma pushing absolute female purity throughout the development of most modern societies.

The act of masturbation is an important step in our sexual development as human beings, yet this dogma still exists. As a result of this many females feel a societal pressure to live up to these outdated beliefs and suffer from negative self-image and lowered self-esteem for their natural desires. The fact remains that many women and girls don’t masturbate at all and may not even know how to but does it need to be this way?

HappyPlayTime is a pet project by designer Tina Gong that seeks to rebrand the entire concept of female masturbation through education and light-hearted games. The game is a mobile app currently in development that will teach female anatomy and provide lessons on masturbation techniques through a number of minigames. At the heart of all this is HPT’s mascot: the pink, fleshy, and gleeful personification of a vagina.

When I inquired about the nature of the mascot, Tina explained that it goes back to rebranding our preconceived notions about masturbation. Teaching an anatomy lesson with a mission to educate about female masturbation is too much of a serious topic when taught in the traditional education model and it is difficult to separate the idea of empowering females to masturbate from a feminist perspective. HPT’s approach to education involves a quick demonstration of different masturbation techniques for each level, followed by a freestyle portion that has the player perform each technique on the mascot. Completion of each level builds up to a fantastically funny and wacky climax upon completion.

Tina commented that the game’s success isn’t relient on having people understand her vision of freeing masturbation for females, which cleverly follows Nicole Lazzarro’s design philosophy for the successful Tilt World social impact game. If users can pick up the game, play it, laugh, and share it with their friends, then the inherent taboo surrounding the conversation about female masturbation has been lifted; you don’t need to bash your beliefs over the heads of your players in order to make a point. By representing the whole process around a lighthearted and comical character and games, the masturbation topic at hand is easier to discuss. Tina also mentioned future plans for making an arduino-powered vibrator companion to work with HPT.

HPT is still in early development but Tina is aiming to have a playable alpha version available later this summer. To learn more about HappyPlayTime, sign up for its newsletter and get access to the alpha when it comes out.

What do you think? Is making light of masturbation the right path for releasing the stigma around it?

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  • Lucy Johnson

    Interesting thought I reckon if you need a game to get going on this you ain’t doing it right!

  • Rachaelsaurus

    Most of us just use porn…

    • chanela

      i dont watch porn. they only show the fake moaning giant fake breasted woman and her boobs. i don’t want to see a woman when i’m turned on.lol

    • Thae86

      Porn is the WORST place to learn about sex….

      • Rachaelsaurus

        Who said anything about learning? I know how to sex.

        • Thae86

          …okay?…

  • Ac-Cent Tchu-Ate

    Is the mascot a vagina or the labia? It’s not correct to refer to the whole area as ‘vagina’. Two different things. Is this about both clitoral and vaginal masturbation?

    • Batatalord

      I’d be willing to argue that the head is the clitoris and the body the vulva. it’s a bit anthropomorphised but it’s easy to spot those two features.

      • Ac-Cent Tchu-Ate

        My point was that just calling the whole thing a vagina is incorrect. The vagina is one part, the clitoris/vulva are another part. The creator, in their attempt to rid society of this kind of ignorance, is guilty of it.

        • kitty

          What do you call the vulva and vagina and clitoris altogether, besides genitals? Do people not just generalise so they dont have to say ‘female genitals’… I’m a woman and I do this all the time. “My vagina” … meaning, everything. If we weren’t able to generalise, surely life would be piteously boring, what with having to explain every side note and exception to everything we say? It would take forever to have a conversation…

          “…for most married women. Except for lesbian spouses. And tranvestites. And those in long distance or unconventional setups or…” catch my drift?

          Sometimes you gotta just generalise to get on with it. Anyone with a brain knows that the clit isn’t the vagina and vice versa. Or else they wouldn’t be named as such. Lets not take away from the fact that this app is a BRILLIANT idea to destigmatise female masturbation. LOVE love love it.

          Peace xxx

    • 2Hairy4U

      Yep, people generally refer to the vulva as a “vagina” now.
      Guess they don’t teach that sort of thing in Biology class any more! :)

    • Women Who Wank

      Doesn’t the word vagina originate from the sheath in which Roman soldiers kept their swords? I heard this recently. If it’s true, we definately need new language for the whole thing. Or perhaps we should just keep on reclaiming that ancient word ‘cunt’ which was indeed used to revere the female genatalia.

  • Solidus

    maybe it’s because of the fact that women don’t have the same sex drive as men, so they don’t masturbate as much. no social stigma should be attached to something done in private and nobody partaking in said private activity should give a shit what anyone thinks about it.

    • star

      This is a complete myth!!! Men do not have a higher sex drive than women. Some people have higher than other, but it isn’t dictated by gender.

      • Solidus

        what about this right here? http://www.webmd.com/sex/features/sex-drive-how-do-men-women-compare

        it discusses how men think about sex far more often than women in comparison, according to a study done by a social psychologist at Florida State University. this would seem to indicate that males have a more active desire for sex than females do. it also talks about the fact that gay men have a higher frequency of sex in their relationships than lesbian women do.

        to me, those studies that the article references seem to conclude that males desire sex more than women do, it’s just how we’re genetically built. what do you think?

        • Arf

          It could also be because men are socially conditioned to be more open and forward about their sexual desire…

    • ms_elroy

      your comment is totally a perfect example of a myth about female sexuality which is why they are trying break these types of myths down. Women do not have lower sex drives than men. That’s myth. All humans have varied sex drives. You can’t generalize based on gender. That’s not the way it works.

  • AreisReising

    “Pet project” Oh come on.

  • HiGramma

    This is a strange mission, considering the truly serious problems in the world. The reason I don’t talk about masturbation — when I don’t talk about it — is that I don’t discuss anything sexually pleasurable with anyone I don’t want to have sex with, or am not very extremely intimate with. I have a close friend who won’t masturbate out of frustration, not over inability or ignorance of technique, and not due to this theory of social stigma, but because she needs the entire story of how she met the person she’s fantasizing about before she can get to the part where they take their clothes off in her imagination. By then she’s not horny any more. I suspect the reason more women don’t masturbate is that we tend to crave social interaction during sex. Men are more likely than women to prefer solitary orgasm: they like to look at their preferred sex partners’ bodies, and the visual is wired straight to the penis. They don’t need a story or social bonding to achieve orgasm. Even after having sex with a partner men are not as likely as women to replay the interaction. I disagree with the author’s proposed theory that taboos and social stigma are the root of societal failure to discuss masturbation, as well as the cause of women not masturbating as often as men overall. Failure to acknowledge the adaptations of evolution in our sexuality is poor sexual science. It’s very sloppy for an academic intellectual to blame every common characteristic of women and men on sexist, arbitrary, constructed rules. There will be no advance in human rights unless innate differences are recognized, understood, and accepted.

    • ms_elroy

      I’m hearing a lot of gendered stereotypes here. Men being a certain way, women crave social interaction to get off, men prefer to do it alone, men are visual not women, etc etc.
      These are all stereotypes about genders. They are all wrong. We, as in human people, have a variety of tastes, kinds, preferences, sexual habits, desires etc. You cannot make an assumption like that based on gender. False. Not true. Can’t lump people into a group like that based on gender.

    • jpal

      What you’re saying is true for many women, although not all of them. The researcher should use a more balanced approach by considering more factors such as the ones you mentioned. I’m kinda surprised that she didn’t include them

    • Patrick Elliott

      The problem is, they are *not* actually differences. They are “cultural”. A few examples from non-western cultures:

      1. One group builds huts for their teen daughters, with the clear intent that they spend time with boys, in private, and, yes, that means sex, and no, that doesn’t mean the boys get to decide who visits. Its 100% the girls responsibility to decide who, or if, some guy drops in to “chat”, while the parents are no where in sight, and intentionally not checking in on them.

      2. Another tribe, the women get together, each day, pick one of their number to spend the night with one of the men, usually not the same one two nights in a row. The men only “get” this privilege if they are successful on their hunt for the day, so, of course, the men get together, before coming back, and divvy up the catch/hunt, so that everyone comes back with something.

      3. There is the one where they have no concept of how sex actually works, and think that babies are “formed” from sperm, so, as a result, have as many partners as they can manage, all during their pregnancy.

      Or, if you want one not human related, but a genetic “cousin”, there is a hilarious research done recently with bonobo, where they introduced the concept of “buying” their food, with special “money” items, and the female bonobo, not the males, but the **females** immediately invented the idea of, “OK, you want some fun? Then you damn well better pay me for it for now on!”

      All the “research” on this stuff has, generally, been done in the west, within western ideas of shame, and sexuality, and all of the baggage that comes with it, and, as a result, its been horribly skewed. In the rare cases where you can find people that have thrown out the concept of what is “normal”, which is bloody hard to do, when nearly everyone is telling you that you shouldn’t be that way, or you can actually get women to admit, without shame, what they really think, the result is vastly different. But, most of us are constrained to “fit in” to what ever is “normal”. This means that, even if you don’t want to be, men tend to be pushed to act over sexed, and women, even if they would otherwise choose different, are nearly scared to death to even admit that they are not all sexless drones, or, worse, the might want to jump everyone they come across, at least as often as men do. Its just, “not done”, so, you can’t get any sort of straight answers.

      In fact, some studies show very different results. Such studies involve, when possible, tracking what people actually “do”, as apposed to what they are willing to admit to. Which, tends to be very problematic. But, one I find kind of hilarious was based on night clubs, “women’s night out”, trips, and both when those took place, and what the result actually was. What they found was that, almost entirely independent of background, social status, education, etc. women where most likely to have these nights when most likely to get pregnant, more likely, even when married, to end up sleeping with something, and significantly less likely, even if they always used on, even at home, with their own husband, to forget the condom. Seems like a rather odd set of results, for people with, “less of a sex drive”. Other, similar, non-self-reported, studies would seem to imply that, without the social stigmas of being sexually active, which women have to deal with, and the expectation that they shouldn’t want it as much, it wouldn’t just be during , “that time of the month”, that they where chasing tail.

      No, the current, “model of human sexuality”, we use was built up by people looking for it to show what they wanted, not what was actually true. Many of the studies where biased, usually unintentionally, they almost all “self reported”, which doesn’t work well, if there are social biases in place to make people deny the truth, especially to themselves, and, finally, even some of the “core” text on the subject are being called into question. In fact, several of the things in the list I give above are “based” on new studies on human behavior in tribes that where either missed by the “experts”, or where the original “studies” where in error, because they either a) oversimplified the social systems in question, or b) misinterpreted them, based on the personal bias of the researcher. In fact, one such study the researcher may have even started an inter-tribal war, between otherwise peaceful groups, by breaking one of their strongest taboos (all so he could try to figure out, before genetics was available, who people where related to in the tribes).

      Source of “some” of those listed:

      http://www.amazon.com/Sex-Dawn-Stray-Modern-Relationships/dp/0061707813

      The culture with the huts, was talked about, instead, on some program on human sexuality, on Discover. I think… I wish I could remember to link it.

  • Anne E. Peng

    Yes!! OMG, YESSSS!!! There needs to be more open discussion about female sexuality and less slut-shaming. A light-hearted game is one (of many) ways to get the message across that masturbation, for both men and women, is completely NATURAL!

    • chanela

      how is someone a slut for playing with THEMSELVES???

      • wow

        you’re not very smart, are you chanela? She didn’t say any one was a slut for playing with themselves. She only said that there is too much shame centered around masturbation and making women feel bad if they choose to do anything sexual, whether by themselves or with another person.

        • http://denimanddorkyhats.blogspot.ca/ remi

          So true. Just the idea of a girl doing anything sexual, even just by herself, can get her stuck with a slut label. I remember once at a girl’s birthday party I went to in high school, we were all in her basement playing truth or dare. Her boyfriend picked truth, and I don’t remember exactly what she asked him, but it was something about masturbation. What he thought about or how often he did it or something. There was no shame for him, he wasn’t embarrassed to answer, nobody in the room thought he was weird or should be ashamed for masturbating. But then when it was his turn on her, she picked truth too and he asked the same question, and the room went dead silent. She didn’t answer the question, but she was almost in tears and begged us not to think any less of her and not to tell anyone about it, just because it was suggested that she did the same thing though nobody cared that her boyfriend did. Just the difference in reaction was unbelievable. He masturbates? Haha, who cares, everybody knows guys do that, no big deal. She masturbates? It’s a humiliating reveal that, worst case scenario, could have destroyed her reputation and turned her friends against her, leaving her crying in the middle of her own birthday party.

          Amazingly, what happened next was almost inspirational. One by one the rest of the girls spoke up, “You know what? Who cares! I do it! You’re not weird at all!” We all thought we were so dirty and gross for doing it, we all thought nobody else did it and that we were alone in our shame. But when one of us admitted that she did too, and that she felt as embarrassed about it as we did, we realized that if we all did it there wasn’t anything wrong with it, and we shouldn’t have to be so scared of admitting it in a room full of friends who care about and love us. The act of talking about it and bringing it into the open just immediately shed any fear or shame connected to masturbating, it was really cool to experience. I hope this game can create the same sort of honesty and freedom in girls now, because it’s something we desperately need.

        • Women Who Wank

          There is not really any need to discredit any one’s intelligence. I think Chanela, is right to be surprised that this ‘slut – shaming’ exists. Misunderstandings are everywhere.

    • Pillbug

      Everyone talks about female sexuality all the damn time.

      • Mags

        No, everyone talks about the sexualization of women. Women having sexual agency is actually pretty taboo.

        • nina

          the theme is not discussed enough, not open enough.. there is still a taboo subject. what’s your problem pillbug???

  • ms_elroy

    I disagree with the “we can do better” because people shouldn’t be shamed or pressured for the sex acts that they are or are not doing. however if this site helps girls to feel less shamed and guilty about their bodies then I’m all for it. So much myth continues today around women and our sexuality.

    • HappyPlayTime

      Yes, I agree! Now I see that was really short-sighted on my part. :( I’m probably going to amend that graphic sometime this weekend. Thank you lots lots lots for pointing this out.

  • Kim

    Looks like someone really needs to grow up, get a life, and a boyfriend.

    • eldargal

      What’s stopping you then?

  • Samizdata

    I guess I just don’t really see any reason for such stigma to be attached (nor do I see any such stigma personally).

  • Nagurski

    Playing the banjo should be a competition sport.

  • http://theperfectnose.wordpress.com/ theperfectnose

    46.6% of women lie on surveys about masturbation XD

  • @Ludictador

    Sorry about that but the character looks like a creepy Clive Barker’s Nightbreed design (The gutted chicken-babygirl)

  • Beth Case

    Sorry, that’s not something I want to discuss with my girlfriends! Not that I’m ashamed, but there’s such a thing as TMI! I don’t talk about my sex life, the regularity of my cycle, or other personal things. That doesn’t mean there’s a stigma against it, just that my private life is just that. Private!

  • CLoux

    I don’t think this is really to “get you going” but more of a “how to”. As a girl growing up in a strict household/a household where we don’t really talk about this, I think this is a great app for girls!

  • Fierce Femme

    Ugh. Does your blog hire no women willing to write about this? The fact that the writer refers to women as “females” (ugh) and tries to suggest most women and girls don’t masturbate (we do, we just dont talk about it because we live in a horribly sexist society where we’re told our bodies and vaginas are gross) suggests no. Maybe next time find someone to write the story who has a bit more expertise.

    • Ivan Kuo

      I referred to women as females because I wanted to be both inclusive of women and younger girls — what would be a better term for this description? And the presumption behind women and girls not masturbating was based off HappyPlayTime’s goals as a game, not my personal observations.

      I think HPT is being made to address those exact points you’re trying to make about sexism in society.

  • Iluvparis101

    What phone can you have it on? i have the iphone and cant find it.

  • Rachel

    When I was growing up there wasn’t anyone I felt that I could talk to about sexuality. School? Teachers? Yeah right, the most we had was a talk about periods and how we’d develop. At home? I never felt comfortable talking to my mum about it- that kind of thing just wasn’t ‘done’. There should be a lot more done to teach girls in particular to have a healthy attitude towards sex and masturbation and that includes being able to talk about it with others in a safe environment. Not talking just gives the appearance of shame. (Also, that character is rather disturbing- it looks like a weird chicken). I’m slightly weary of that graph as well- what was the age group investigated? How many women were included? Were they following a religion that prohibits masturbation etc.

  • Ann

    Maybe? It’s a nice effort for sure. It’s thought out, the heart’s in
    the right place, and the design is aesthetically pleasing. …but I’m
    sorry… It’s incredibly awkward to me that you are “masturbating” a
    cartoony character that looks like infantilised genitalia with a
    friendly face on your phone to sexual release. Imagine a counterpart to
    this game… about a jolly anthropomorphic penis that looked like a cute little baby boy. I’m pretty open about
    sexuality with my friends and family (we casually discuss the strangest
    sex stuff on occasion, but never about OURSELVES, personally, and that’s
    the way we like it), but this game made me cringe horribly when I saw
    it because of the mascot. I’ve seen dildos with faces on them and I have
    the same reaction… repulsion.

    I’m female and the things the
    vulva mascot (mascunt? hehe) says are way too cutesy/awkward for me. If I
    were a young teen I would have probably not been drawn to this game.
    Maybe it wold work for some girls I don’t know, but this is a turn off
    to me. It’s also a turn off for me personally because I’m hetero and
    find it near impossible to be interested in playing with a vulva that is
    not my own. No way I’d EVER use a game like this with a vibrating
    attachment. Sex toys and phones should be separate… phones have a lot
    of microbes on them from all the public handling, last thing you need is
    cross contamination. Plus… you’re masturbating with a cutesy cartoon
    character that looks kind of like a baby. Also what if someone phoned
    you while you were doing something on screen, and then you accidentally
    picked up and then… “what’s that sound?”

    I don’t think we should shame people
    for masturbation. Loving yourself is healthy, and I encourage it because
    people tend to be in better moods when they aren’t sexually frustrated!
    However I also don’t think we should shame people for not masturbating,
    not masturbating enough (!), or for being embarrassed about if they do
    or don’t. Not being interested in masturbating, for whatever reason, is
    ok too. Not wanting to talk about masturbation, is ok as well. Not
    everything has to be “out there” for discussion. Not everyone holds sex
    to the highest priority in their life. Not everyone sees sex as a casual
    thing. Not everyone has a raging sex drive. It’s not really a bad thing
    if you’re happy otherwise.

    Women don’t poop, fart, or
    masturbate, right? No, of course we do. It’s silly. I’d like to
    generally see men a bit more embarrassed, and women a bit less
    embarrassed about bodily functions. These topics shouldn’t be socially damning,
    but I also don’t care to discuss masturbatory or toilet habits with
    others.

  • Women Who Wank

    This is very exciting for me. I began working on my one woman show this year, an improvised show called Women Who Wank, which deals with just this. The time is right.

  • ML

    This is an AWESOME idea! I remember feeling so guilty for my drive for clitoral orgasms, that I would try very HARD to break the habit. Part of my idea for “starting high school properly” was to eliminate the practice before I started in the fall (that didn’t last). This would be GREAT as part of sex education. They pass out condoms, don’t they? ; ).

  • Dremora

    there five words, TABOO.

    • War Apocalypsewriters

      That’s one word with five letters.

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