Sunday, December 24, 2006

Female Masturbation and why it is a GOOD thing

Incredible; powerful; fulfilling: those three words are the ones used by 69-75% of women who masturbate. I know, I know, women aren’t supposed to talk about female masturbation (though 80% of us or more actually do it). And we all know that guys talk about endless detail. In fact, if you start a mainstream film with a guy masturbating (like say American Beauty or Bubba Ho-Tep), you almost ensure a cult classic (not to mention the cult status masturbation brought to American Pie). As for female masturbation...oh that’s right, we’re supposed to be waiting for the guy to exchange intimacy for not so great and probably not orgasmic sex (it is well known that more women will reach orgasm from masturbation than from penetrative sex alone). A 2002 study funded in part by the Canadian Government (I’m so proud to be Canadian!) sought to find out if all female orgasms feel alike? Are clitorial orgasms different from g-spot ones?

What they found out was: “gee, women are really complex, particularly when they are having orgasms” – seriously, they couldn’t create a model or context to subjectively evaluate female orgasms. What they did do was ask women out of 60 adjectives, to pick ones that represented orgasms, both with partners and in masturbation. Number one word regarding masturbation picked by 75% of the women: Incredible (add your own exclaimation marks as you please), number two: powerful (73%) and number 3: fulfilling (69%). Those are the kind of experiences worth having, no?

At this point you are probably having an “oh my god…” moment; yes it is Xmas eve, yes I could have written about peace on earth but let’s face it; you have relatives, you have stress, you have time....on your hands (will the fact that female masturbation can help cure insomnia help you read on: “an orgasm may work like a charm to help you fall asleep”). As for those relatives…a 2001 study found that an orgasm can relieve migraine pain FASTER than medication and result in relief of more than half the women with migraines (Evans & Couch, 2001). See…it IS good for you! Although most evolutionary scientists are puzzled by female orgasms; Scientist Elisabeth Lloyd wrote a book which collects the 21 different theories that different evolutionary scientists have developed and it comes down to this: “Gee, women are really complex, particularly when they are having orgasms.” - or rather that as far as they can tell, the clitoris has no function (now before you start reaching downward to prove them wrong – what they mean is no EVOLUTIONARY function) – women have orgasms, women have multiple orgasms and the clitoris is an important part of this – however, unlike men, this has NO IMPACT on their rate of pregnancy (though a possibly huge impact on their headaches, confidence, and a good nights sleep). Which just emphasises my belief that God loves women: ergo clitoris.

But female orgasms is a field in which what little is known has only recently been discovered. Until 1998, no one had even tried to empirically quantify the aspect of a female orgasm. And after a few millennium of guys building entire cultures around their orgasms and masturbation (In Greek culture the god Hermes taught Pan how to masturbate to “relieve misery”; Pan taught shephards....word spread) while it was only a few decades ago that in 1950 Ernst Grafenburg found and published about a spot in women which created orgasms (named the G-spot in his honor). Right now we live in a society where it is accepted and expected for males to “beat the bishop” (there are over 1300 different phrases in English to refer to male masturbation”) and even make mainstream movies about it, but it is not acceptable for women to openly admit to “making kitty purr” (there are only 372 synonyms for female masturbation), at least not “good girls.” A study of 178 women who actively masturbate found that 80% of parents either did not talk AT ALL about female masturbation to their daughters, or when they did, lied to them about it: “70 percent of the females reported their parents told them nothing about masturbation…six percent said their parents told them myths, and another four percent of parents told the specific myth that masturbation was something boys do but that girls shouldn't.”

Okay, what should you know: 1) Talking about it, writing about it, blogging about it and admitting it is socially taboo and has a long history of being so (London Doctor, Isaac Baker Brown, performed his “clitoridectomies” from 1858 onward in order to try and remove the possibility of females masturbating…without their consent). Linda said the one piece of advice she would give about masturbation was “get rid of the “virtual” aunt at the end of your bed” (50% of females feel guilty when they masturbate). Remember it was just over 10 years ago in 1994 when the US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired for suggesting that masturbation was okay. But be assured, it IS okay, not only that 2) females can have (and do have) masturbation experiences earlier than males: a Canadian survey with NOW magazine (who also did a great review of my book Zed), found that of the thousands of responds, 18% of women started masturbating at age 9 or before, 32% before the age of 12. We are hardwired to be able to experience pleasure genitally, but socially condition not to. 3) visual and mental aids are the number one stimulation (think pics, movies, romance books, or as this Harvard student recounts, TV shows: “I myself was quite the practiced masturbator by sixth grade, probably outdoing all of my male peers in the precocious department. I had started in elementary school, reaching between my legs during the sexiest moments of Saved By the Bell—like when Zack Morris finally met Kelly Kapowski’s lips. The habit quickly got so out of control that my mother had to ask me to please not do that when company was around.”).

That being said, over 50% of women who masturbate own and use vibrators which can range from clitoral stimulators like the Ladybug to ergonomically designed vibrators for your whole vulva like the femblossom (PLEASE do not use your electric toothbrush – while a common vibrator substitute, it can tear up the fragile vaginal skin). Vibrators are fun; like the name implies, they vibrate! Turn them on, let them vibrate in your hand; get out all of your pent up nervous laughter as you scan the room and realize that the “sex police” aren’t about to bust down your door (and hopefully neither is your mother). Look, considering how taboo this subject is, having a few hang ups is quite normal – ordering a vibrator online is a painless experience and it comes in a plain box. Okay, you have the vibrator in your hand: have a drink, relax, laugh a little, start off however feels comfortable to you. The whole purpose is to feel good, to relax, and to learn about yourself and how you best respond sexually. The one thing sexual expert agree upon is that the best way to improve your sexual experience is to know what stimulates you, so that you can better instruct your partner (The highest percentage of straight women had orgasms while on top…pass it on!). Though, that being said, in one study, 41% of females said that masturbating itself was more fun that sex with a partner (don’t worry, outside of teen years, most women masturbate 10 times a month or less – so, this isn’t going to become a “life destroying addiction” no matter what your Baptist Pastor says – as to “life altering”; I hope so, don’t you?).

There are many guides online, to help you if you want a few tips to masturbation or have questions. But you won’t know how you respond until you try some things out. Some females orgasm with their clitoris, some vaginally, some both, it’s all part of finding out. After a few times, your body will “tell” you or help guide you to what it likes best, sometimes it tries to go ahead without you (which falls under “I don’t think I’m going to read THIS book on the bus anymore”). Without going into explicit detail, this is an example of MY inner dialogue:

Body: “Mmmmmm......horny, want sex!”
Me: “Okay, that’s sounds pretty good.”
Body (now tends to view everything around with an erotic charge): go read that book, you know, THAT book.
Me: “Should I run a bath?”
Body: “GET BOOK!”
Me: moves “quickly” to find appropriate material; starts reading.
Body: the thighs tighten as they rub back and forth
Me: “Whew, did someone turn the heat up?”
Body: (suggests a variety of things from simply rubbing hands over body to going and getting a vibrator)
Me: “And how I am supposed to hold the book?” (heart rate increased, breathing increased, vagina moist)
Body: “Yes! Over there! More of that! Yes! YES! YES!”
Me: “Oh...I'm tingly all over. Mmmm....”

I imagine that for a lot of women that falls under TOO MUCH INFORMATION. But why, it is the vaguest description of what a lot of us do – masturbate. And it isn’t bad – it’s good, that’s why the number one word other women use to describe it is “incredible.” As with many things, for the best results: practice, practice, practice. I am reminded the short film we saw at a film festival: in this German funded sex aid film one lesbian finds out her partner has never masturbated to orgasm. They set themselves up on the rooftop as one instructs the other. Let’s say the lesson of the film was: “good things come to those who persist” – as the non-orgasmer is a source of humorous chatter, even during the rolling credits:
“Am I done yet?”
“If you are asking that question, then no”
“Can I switch hands now?”
(Average masturbation experience is 10 minutes for women)
So, this holiday season, try "Hitchhiking South" or "Rocking the boat" as you give yourself (and your sexual partner) the gift of finding out more about what makes you say “Wow!” or “Again!"


David said...

Ummm ... this is going to be quite off-topic (I don't think I can add any insight to a post on female masturbation, being male), but ...
I'd like to create a Livejournal account which feeds your blog using RSS - the problem is that the name is limited to 15 characters. Would you prefer "elizabethmcclun", or "screwbronze", or some other name - or would you prefer not to have an LJ feed created at all ?

Elizabeth McClung said...

you'd like to manipulate the whatisit with the whowho? Sure an LJ feed sounds fun (So fun I wish I knew what it was and why I don't have one already and what type of batteries it takes) - probably BethMcClung or ScrewBronze - I guess, unless you have a super nifty new idea. Thanks!

kathz said...

Curious that the only person commenting on this post so far is male - it makes your point for you, I think.

A good subject for a Christmas post! (I mean that quite seriously)

David said...

Ok, done ! Basically, it means anyone using Livejournal can add "bethmcclung" to their reading list (known as a "friends page", for some reason) on LJ, and they'll be able to see your posts here mixed in with those of everyone else on their list.
You can see what's coming through on the feed at

Anonymous said...

Yep. We always play up the guys and downplay the gals. Maybe it's merely because men, by the nature of their plumbing, look more ridiculous?

Here's a rare female reference for ya. For the full set-up, you'll want the transcript at . But the relevant excerpt takes place in Donna's room much later after she walked in on Eric masturbating in the bathroom (it was actually a very amusing scene):

DONNA: ... and this celibacy thing was my idea, so I need to accept some responsibility for the odd and disgusting things you do.

ERIC: That's right, you do.

DONNA: But, you know, next time, be like a normal person. Go to your room, lock the door, light some candles, put on some Al Green and make an evening of it.

ERIC: Wow, Donna, that was really detailed. It's almost like... Oh, my God! You do it, too!

DONNA: What ? No, no!

ERIC: I noticed the candles getting lower, even though I'd never seen them lit!

DONNA: All right, this conversation is over! (she leaves)

ERIC: Wow. So this is where it all happens. (he picks up a candle and leaves)

The conclusion after the commercial break is pretty good, too.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks for the tech help David (you happen to have an overwhemling desire to help me redo the webpage?)

B.V. Brus - that comes as "almost" a reference - I think it was Sex in the City which first really broke down the doors of women talking about masturbation - which for some reason I can never get MY friends to do over a latte - if not, it certainly increased the sales of The Rabbit dramatically.

Elizabeth said...

Joycelyn Elders was a voice of reason in the sea of American Puritanical hypocrisy.

And...I want one of those shoehorn looking thingys. Of course, that would bring my collection up to six. Since I live in Texas I have to be careful about such things. Owning six vibrators is a mis-der-meemer down in these here parts. We gotta keep the streets safe from the master-baters.

Anonymous said...

how does one masturbate well and how does one know its successful?

Anonymous said...

i usually try the thick end of a screwdriver, but the shoehorn is a good idea as well

Elizabeth McClung said...

I'm not going to hold myself up as a sex expert but it seems that the raw/rude/thick end of the screwdriver is asking for trouble a) germs - aka lots of hands touch here and b) vaginal and clit and hood are not made of teflon - good high grade silicone or at least a good bio soap wash I would recommend (NO ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES)

Anonymous said...

y'know - I've heard tell that on some random school trip at my old school, girls were banned from taking electric razors with them. The girl who told me this had a very clear theory as to why this was so.

leitapow05 said...

Thank you so much for writing this, it is honest and funny and much like the way I talk about masturbating with my friends and mom. I am completely open about my sexuality, I am an 18 year old girl, I own a vibrator and I've never had sex. I believe masturbating is amazing, I would feel so dependent in a way if I couldnt pleasure myself alone, what kind of world would that be? what sort of feminists are we, if we want to be equal and independent, but we let female mastubrating be viewed as unladylike and wrong! I think it is such a shame to women.
A few more comments
I really hate how male friends always say silly things to virgins how are sexual (me) like oh well I'm sure you can find someone to sleep with you, well that was NOT the point.
also I prefer having phone sex-- to me it is the best way to masturbate. I have a long distance lova' as I call him that I have really great phone sex with, both of us can get off several times, there is no pressure or akwardness it is just fun masturbation and in a way it is so much easier than laying in bed alone trying to think of some way to get wet.
I think the solution is more girls/women need to be open and honest about their sexual behaviors, and more tolerant of others, no judging, no lying. Lets just put it out there, more power to the women!