Sunday, October 21, 2012

Female Masturbation: Loving Self

I’m always troubled, and more than a little sad, when women I speak with in 2012 continue to express feelings of shame and guilt about taking their own pleasure in hand. Let’s face it: puritanical and repressive views of female masturbation continue to rob many women of the ability to see sex for one as the viable, self-affirming and celebratory act of pleasure-filled empowerment that it was always meant to be.

Depending upon where we live, our cultures of origin, and even our ages, there are lots of terms out there that describe the same thing. Some of the ones you may have heard include sex for one, flying solo, self-cultivation and of course, plain, old, lovely and exquisite masturbation.

Whatever it’s called, you might find it interesting to know that aside from providing tangible health benefits such as headache relief, increased vaginal health and better muscle tone “downtown,” there have been several recent studies showing that women who engage in sex for one actually have higher self-esteem in general than women who don’t.

Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, at a time when many of us were in our early or middle childhoods, Alfred Kinsey and his colleagues published the historic and groundbreaking Kinsey Report, a wide-ranging and highly respected study of sexual behaviors the US.

Some of the aspects they focused on were the masturbation techniques of women at that time, reporting that 84% of women who masturbated stroked or stimulated the inner lips and or clitoris, and 10% crossed their legs and exerted a steady rhythmic pressure on the whole genital area. Breast stimulation was involved for 11% of women, although none reported that solely, 20% inserted dildoes or various “household items”, and 11% reported using other techniques, including 2% who could orgasm from fantasy alone, while others used vibrators, pillows and other objects upon which to apply pressure. On average, it took women about 4 minutes to orgasm using whichever masturbation technique they preferred.

Fast forward to the present, and as author Martha Cornog reports in her 2003 book The Big Book of Masturbation, not much has changed in terms of technique over the past fifty years. Women still use their hands most often to stimulate themselves. However, techniques have begun to diversify a bit due to recent changes in the culture as a whole. One such change is the internet, which allows greater access to the accounts of the experiences of others, often across cultures. For example, in some rural areas of China as well as Oceania, where venerated old ways and cultural wisdoms have withstood the onslaught of Western influence, many women continue to masturbate with their feet by sitting on the floor, bending the right leg and pulling the heel of the right foot against the vulva.

Have you thought about whether or not outside pressures have influenced your freedom to fully explore ways to love your body? Has this changed as you’ve gotten older?

photo credit: <a href="">~FreeBirD®~</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>


  1. I think being raised Catholic did or does influence my ideas about masturbation, but it did not stop me from participating. My perspective has changed a bit as I got older.

  2. I would much rather use the masturbation technique than going out meeting someone and those feelings take hold of you and before you know it, you are having sex to just relieve yourself for the moment.

  3. Masturbation is a great way for women to relieve some pressure. I have explored many of the techniques mentioned in this blog and self stimulation of the breast helps. I must admit I have never tried the Chinese foot technique. Humm. I say what ever floats your boat.