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Women masturbate as much as men, says Cheat star Katherine Kelly

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Anna Brech
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Katherine Kelly, star of ITV drama series Cheat

Why did a female masturbation scene make so many viewers tune out? And was it gratuitous – or merely realistic? 

It’s the psychological drama of the moment that everyone’s talking about. 

But when ITV series Cheat opened with a scene of Katherine Kelly’s lead character masturbating in a toilet, it divided opinion.

People on Twitter complained that it felt gratuitous, and around half a million viewers tuned out at that moment, according to TV ratings. 

It’s not clear whether this reaction was driven by a general aversion to the use of sex in drama, or an underlying prejudice around female masturbation, which – even in this day and age – is still considered a taboo topic by some. 

Either way, Kelly herself, who plays a beleaguered tutor in the drama, was happy with the scene.

“You only get embarrassed when it doesn’t feel right, but I thought, reading the script, well women masturbate as much as men right,” Kelly tells The Sun in a new interview. 

“She is so frustrated and so pent up, I could see why that would be her only release. She is trying for a baby, she can’t even have a drink.”

Molly Windsor and Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama series Cheat

Molly Windsor and Katherine Kelly in the ITV drama series Cheat

Kelly adds that she didn’t have any misgivings about filming the moment, either.

“It really takes a lot for me to be embarrassed. I have done sex scenes a lot before, I had my fair share of them in Mr Selfridge,” she says, joking: “I have had two children and after childbirth, you are not embarrassed by anything.

“Also the practicalities of what goes on in a room is so clinical,” the actor continues. “It was a hot day, the room was blacked out and we were so hot because we had this massive duvet on us. There were 20 people in the room.”

Figures show that women masturbate slightly less than men, but doing so comes with significant health perks, including reduced stress and improved mood. 

One 2015 study found women who masturbated had happier marriages compared to those who did not. 

Model and actor Amber Rose is so sold on its benefits, she brands it “the ultimate form of self-care”

Cheat, also starring actor Molly Windsor, is a four-part drama series and reached its finale last night. 

Images: Getty, ITV

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.