From Sin to Sexual Self-Awareness: Black Women’s Reflection on Lifetime Masturbation

Shemeka Thorpe, Rayven L. Peterson, Natalie Malone, M. Nicole Coleman, Jaxin Annett, Candice N. Hargons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


To date, there has been very little empirical research on Black women’s masturbation practices and views on masturbation. This study fills the gap by exploring the messages Black women received about masturbation and self-pleasure and the sources of these messages using valence theory. Data were collected in 2021 from 242 Black women who participated in a survey during phase one of the triphasic Big Sex Study. Thematic analysis was used to analyze this short-form qualitative data. Results indicated a range of responses, with mixed messages reported more than negative, positive, and neutral messages. The three primary sources of messages were religion, family, and friends. There were several themes across the valence of messages including the development of positive messages, sexual self-awareness, masturbation as sin, health benefits and consequences, relationship difficulties, devaluation, and masturbation as dirty and gross. These results provide a basis for sexuality professionals to improve sociocultural knowledge about masturbation beliefs, practices, and message sources among Black women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1415
Number of pages13
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Black women
  • Masturbation
  • Religion
  • Sexual socialization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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