Hooray for Kail Lowry! On Monday night’s new episode, the Teen Mom 2 cast member talked openly (in front of the cameras!) about female sexuality and masturbation while out to dinner with her friends. One of the main story arcs on this season of the show has been the deployment of Kail’s husband, Javi Marroquin, overseas, and how she and her two sons, Isaac and Lincoln, have been coping. When she was asked by a friend how she was feeling about her enforced celibacy, Kail replied that “that’s what toys are for.” It wasn’t a prolonged conversation, and it ended when that particular segment ended, but still, it was so refreshing. Kail didn’t dodge the question, she didn’t change the subject or act shocked that such a thing could be brought up in polite company, and she definitely didn’t pretend that she’d never even considered it. It was great to see female masturbation not only acknowledged but praised. The norm in the media, unfortunately, is either to make female sexuality invisible (particularly when women are mothers), to slut shame women for enjoying sex or refer to them as frigid. The idea that a woman could be sexual outside of a relationship with a man is incredibly threatening.
That being said, from what we’ve seen of Javi this season, I can’t imagine he’d be so into Kail openly discussing masturbation or comfortable with her doing it. His behavior has been super controlling — he’s checked her phone, been angry when Kail hangs out with her friends, and, my personal “favorite,” accused Kail of being complicit in her own miscarriage. We also know that if he had his way, Kail would be pregnant right now, in spite of the fact that she has her hands full with two boys and is trying to finish school. It doesn’t seem to me like Javi would be into the idea that Kail wouldn’t be totally reliant on him for sexual pleasure; most likely, he’d be threatened by it. Unfortunately, there is this pervasive notion that if you’re in a sexual relationship, you shouldn’t be masturbating because it implies that your partner isn’t satisfying you. It’s deeply connected to the idea that one should get everything he or she needs from one person, especially if that person is a spouse. That’s why it’s even more important for women to talk about female sexuality — it’s a reclamation of power when a taboo such as masturbation is knocked down. It’s also particularly noteworthy on a show like Teen Mom, where young parents are constantly criticized for everything they do, even if it has nothing to do with their kids. Let’s hope Kail’s openness about her sexuality parlays into equally open conversations with Lincoln and Isaac about sex, power and consent, and that she holds onto her own power, in spite of what might be going on in her marriage.