girlfriend_janFrom Mindfulness to Masturbation: Girlfriend’s January issue

‘Switched on: Sorting out the small things’ provides readers with 10 things they need to know about 2013, which ranges fascinatingly from the Australian Federal Election and our troops exiting Afghanistan, to One Direction’s World Tour and actors Ryan Gosling and Robert Paterson in Australia.

‘Are you a late bloomer? : That awkward moment when all your friends are talking about boys and you’ve got nothing to say’ looks at why some girls are not into boys yet. Readers are told that girls usually start to think about boys romantically and sexually from the ages of 9-16 but that it’s OK to be a romantic late bloomer – there’s “no shame in that”. Good advice from clinical psychologist Serena Cauchi: Don’t force yourself, because “being an individual and doing things at your own pace is a much healthier option than conforming with others.”  Girls are assured it’s fine to be single take note Dolly – see January review and that maturity means she will be better equipped for relationships and setting boundaries later on.”  In light of this sensible observation, I’m not sure about the term ‘late bloomers’. Girls might make a rational and considered decision to focus on their education, or engage in causes, rather than pursue dating relationships in their early teens. It doesn’t mean anything is ‘late’, it could be perfectly ‘on time’ when and if it happens.

‘Relationship Resolution’ is related to this. Readers are told they can focus on giving themselves the time and space away from relationships that they need. “It might seem like you need a relationship to feel validated, but it’s important not to base your happiness on someone else.”  Girls can achieve great things without needing to have a boyfriend. Advice is given on how to about a relationship merry-go-round. With all the pressure on girls to feel they must have a boyfriend, it was refreshing to read these articles.

Three readers agreed to go on a self-imposed makeup, social media and mirror ban. The experience of Lily, 13, who gave up social networking, is insightful: “I liked the freedom of not worrying what other people were thinking. For example, when I post a photo on Instagram, which is usually once a day, I worry about who’s going to like it or comment on it. With Twitter, I post at least 50 or 60 tweets every day, and since I couldn’t, I felt isolated from the world, but it also made me talk to people in real life more. ..I definitely think I was using social networking too much. I’m not as interested in it any more, to be honest….I could definitely do the challenge again – maybe for a month!”

Real Life stories this month includes Stacey,20, who initiated an anti-cancer fundraising and awareness campaign by selling shorts she created herself from casperandpearl.com with all proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. She lost her dad to lymphoma and her mum has had the same disease for ten years.  Then there’s child-abuse survivor Delilah, physically and emotionally abused by her father. She’s seeing a psychologist now and realising the abuse was never her fault. She encourages other girls to get help and not put up with it. Teia, 15, became suicidal after being severely bullied.  Nine months ago she had planned to end her life. A friend alerted police and her life was saved. “Everybody needs to trust me when I say it does get better and that nothing is worth giving up your life for. Let the people closest to you know what you’re going through. It might not seem like it sometimes, but they really do care, and they will do whatever they can to help you out.”

There’s a helpful article on how to avoid being a people pleaser. While it’s nice to help out friends, it can be dangerous to let their needs come before yours every time. Practical advice is given on how to say ‘no’.

Another helpful piece is on mindfulness, helping girls be in the moment by focussing on the here and now which can reduce depression and anxiety, improve sleep and energy levels, help girls cope better with pain and boosting performance.  There’s advice on how to manage negative thoughts, deep breathing and taking time out.  Websites such as mindfulness.org.au and smilingmind.com.au are recommended.

From one ‘M’ to another – ‘Masturbation myths’ in Girlfriend’s sealed section. Accompanied by a giant image of a halved mandarin (and on the next page, an illustration of the non-mandarin version of female genitalia) the piece aims to provide “cringe-free answers to your masturbation questions”. ‘True or False’ questions are: ‘Only boys do it’, ‘It’s wrong’, ‘You must be desperate’, ‘It will ruin you for sex’, ‘You have to orgasm’, ‘It’s completely normal’ (the only ‘True’ in the line-up) and ‘There’s a right way to do it’.

It’s important for girls to known and feel comfortable with their bodies and to know how they work. So many girls are alienated from their bodies and any sense of pleasure. Porn culture has taught them they exist primarily for the enjoyment of others, and getting a guy off is the most important thing. But there are some big claims. The article says research has shown “girls who masturbate are much more in charge of their sex lives” and that girls will have “better quality sex” if they masturbate (also described as ‘solo sex’).  I’m not sure masturbation automatically turns boys into sensitive and thoughtful lovers.

This article might not be so ‘cringe free’ for mothers of younger GF readers as this could be their first detailed exposure to the issue.  (I’ve pointed out before readership appears to be getting younger, with girls as young as 12 profiled in its pages GF does say that if you don’t want to masturbate there’s nothing wrong with that.