“I found out something about my housemate the other day,” a friend says to me. We’ve been sitting in Wetherspoons for the past hour, talking about porn; I feel we’re comfortably past the point of being able to shock each other. “She’s never masturbated.”
I gape. Totally amazed.
But then I wonder – why am I so shocked? Even as a woman who has been shoving her hands into her knickers since her mid-teens, I always felt hyper-aware – in my all-girl Catholic school – that if my peers were doing this too, they sure weren’t talking about it. Sex, yep. Masturbation, uhn-uh.
When I first started touching myself, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing
Besides, how does a teenaged girl even go about it? For boys, the process seems intuitive. Grab hold of the thing that’s gone all hard, and rub it in the only way you can until it not only feels great, but you can see that something has happened. There’s white stuff everywhere, you’re going soft again, and this sounds a lot like what Jason was describing during break-time yesterday.
When I first started touching myself, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The clit was an enigma. Putting a finger in my vagina felt weird and uncomfortable. Was I meant to rub up and down, or in circles? Was it even possible for a girl to do this? If I had an orgasm, how would I know? Did girls ejaculate? I had no idea. Before then, whenever I felt turned on, I would simply enjoy that feeling in and of itself. In fact, I sought it out – constantly fantasising, and reading anything I could find online that gave me that squirmy, desperate feeling.
I tell my friend this, and she agrees. Back then, both of us settled for being distractedly horny and completely mystified as to how to alleviate such a feeling. I sip on my drink and contemplate just how many women this must be true for. Surely, a lot of us. Female masturbation is rarely discussed, and even more rarely encouraged. And yet, time and time again women tell each other that they’ve been having bad sex. Their male partners don’t know how to touch them properly; penetration might feel good, but not good enough to ever achieve orgasm.
There are many oversights in sexual education, but the tight-lipped approach to female masturbation has got to be one of the most unforgivable. How absurd is it that a woman can have sex with a man before she has ever even considered how to give herself pleasure? The man, almost certainly, will have been building up the muscle in his bicep for years. A notable reason for disparity in the bedroom – for him getting off, while she perhaps feels nothing at all – is because women think that they must have sex in order to feel sexual pleasure. And then, when sex doesn’t yield a mind-blowing orgasm, assumptions are made that such a thing is unachievable. Or that their partner isn’t trying hard enough.
An answer to better sex lies at the tips of a woman’s own fingers. It would just help is we were made aware of this sooner rather than later.