As the freethinkers of the world and the internet move to normalize conversations about sex, a topic that still brings on the blush is masturbation. Especially in connection with women. Look up the Intertubes and you’ll find educational videos targeted at men and boys. Female masturbation? …crickets…
Comics will regularly make content directed at male masturbation. But if you want to talk about female pleasure, the world starts pretending that women who masturbate are mythical beasts, imaginary and quite non-existent. Ask a woman if she pleasures herself and you will get a) a gasp followed by a horrified ‘NO’, b) a noncommittal shrug, c) an embarrassed ‘Yes’ tinged with fake bravado. We are a long, long way from a simple, “I do.”
Why Are Women Still Embarrassed To Admit They Masturbate?
As understanding grows and shame diminishes, more women are willing to talk about their self-pleasuring routines. 92% in the US now say they take time out to masturbate, up from 74% in the last survey conducted in 1979.
In the East, statistics are still grim. For example, in India, researchers studying first-year college women who self-identified as virgins found that 30% of those who masturbated described feelings of guilt, anxiety, and shame associated with masturbation.
Echoing this statistic, Dr. Avani Tiwari, Psychiatrist and Sexologist with Metro Hospital, Noida, says that the frequency of masturbation in women ranges from 20-70% in various studies. Lack of awareness, embarrassment and cultural taboos play a decisive role in underreporting.
Related reading: History of Vibrator
The keywords are guilt and shame. In a culture where saying you have sexual needs automatically proves you are morally debased and undeserving of respect, admitting to self-pleasuring is fraught with even greater risks and is a huge no-no.
Countries in the East, once rich with depictions of female masturbation and pleasure in literature, sculpture, and other arts, is now a victim of social taboos and restrictions. And female masturbation seems to have been one of the worst victims of it all.
In the US, while the statistics shine brighter, it is still a truth well-acknowledged that you just don’t talk about pleasure, especially if it is female, in polite company. Perhaps that is why, despite so much talk of eco-conservation, female pleasure devices still come wrapped in millions of layers of dark paper and plastic just to make it all seem discrete.
But the tide may be turning. Dr. Tiwari reports awareness levels are up, thanks to media exposure. Women are beginning to ask questions. They are exploring their bodies and discovering the joy of self-love. On sexuality forums, questions like Do women masturbate? How? Is masturbation healthy for women? etc. pop up regularly.
Typically women use their hands and fingers to make circular, back and forth, or up and down movements against the mons and clitoral area.
Related reading: The 10 Biggest Turn-Offs For Women
Most of them avoid direct stimulation of the glans of the clitoris because of extreme sensitivity. Some women thrust the clitoral area against an object such as bedding or pillow, others orgasm pressing thighs together and teasing the pelvic floor muscles that underlie the vulva. Contrary to what is depicted in pornography, vaginal insertion to reach an orgasm is not common.
Some women can reach orgasm by pressing the breast alone and a few women (2%) by fantasy alone. Some people use vibrators for added enjoyment and variation. Women typically need less than 4 minutes to reach orgasm while masturbating.
Dr. Tiwari adds that women are known to use all body parts and all senses as well as fantasizing to achieve orgasm. What do women think about when they masturbate? It varies, really. Moods, kinks, and sexualities play a part in the same. Some may imagine their newest crush while others replay memories of their ex. Contrary to what some believe, women don’t often need long-drawn vivid fantasies to be part of the deal. Not when their hands, often unlike their partners, know exactly what works and where.
One of the pioneers of sexology, Alfred Charles Kinsey, stated, “Among all types of activity, masturbation is, however, one in which the female most frequently reaches orgasm.”
Related Reading: Sex Positions For Maximum Pleasure For Women
But masturbation is not all about enjoying La La Land by oneself. Is masturbation good for women? Definitely. Research shows women who masturbate regularly experience a reduction in menopausal symptoms, enjoy improved mood, and have a better body image. Self-esteem and overall sexual satisfaction also get a much-needed boost.
Plus it’s safer and practical too. Safe, because you can’t get infections enjoying by yourself (unless you’re using toys and don’t keep them clean). Practical, because being totally dependent on a partner to get off is setting oneself up for frustration. When the partner is not up to it, is traveling, or is generally a selfish moron, your finger can do the magic and keep you sane.
Sometimes self-love is the best love, we found. Also, Priya Chaphekar suggests that maybe learning belly dance might help with releasing your sexual spirit.