Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Nanette Yanuzzi-Macias


Vaginal masturbation, Stigmatization, Sexual pleasure, Orgasm, Vaginal pleasure, Vaginal art, Vaginal representation


Starting in ancient times and continuing for the next several centuries vaginal and penile masturbation were viewed as unnatural in the religious sense as well as unhealthy. Physicians such as Galen and Hippocrates decided that masturbation caused physical damage including spinal cord deterioration. Until the mid-20th-century there was heavy punishment for those who masturbated, these punishments ranged from clitoridectomy and circumcision to straight jackets. It was not until 1948 when Alfred Kinsey published a study titled, “Sexual Behavior In The Human Male," that feelings towards masturbating started to shift. The study found that masturbation does not cause ill health. Although this case created a large amount of backlash, it paved the way for the slow progression towards the acceptance of masturbation for males. While masturbation is more accepted today, studies still show that it is more talked about among men than women and that more men masturbate than women. Studies also show an increase in sexual pleasure during intercourse for women amongst those who masturbate. Orgasming during sex for women is not always easy but usually becomes easier through masturbation. Men have a far easier time orgasming during sex and separately, masturbation is less stigmatized for them. Therefore, I have theorized that as the stigmatization of vaginal masturbation increases, orgasms during sex decrease. In my thesis exhibition, I created a comfortable and private space where viewers could learn about vaginal masturbation. Through making two installations that provided space for multiple viewers, I also stimulated conversation.