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Women's Masturbation: "It's Nasty!"

No one is encouraging young women to explore their bodies on their own, or to become more comfortable with their sexual selves. No one is giving them permission to learn about their own sexual responsiveness without a partner present. And so they think that masturbation is nasty. Read More

This is a great article! It

This is a great article! It seems that this is a feminist issue. But it's absolutely true what the article says about knowing your own body. I'd post this on facebook, but I think my husband would be embarrassed if his family saw it. I'd get a kick out of their response, but I'll avoid the drama. ;)


Thanks for your kind comment. As for posting it on Facebook, it sounds like it might be just what your husband's family needs! Then again...

There are some...

There are some who advocate masturbation for women. Try Pamela Madsen on this site. She believes in Tantric sex, with a huge element of self stimulation. Glenn

What about other countries

Is this idea of "nasty" an American thing? What about Europe? What about other regions? I live your comment about a strange combination of abstinence and porn. So true. This country has ruined healthy sex.

Excellent question

By coincidence, I received an email a few weeks ago from a young woman in Italy who enjoys masturbating, but said she was surprised to find out that her friends don't masturbate, or don't admit to it, anyway. I've asked her for her thoughts about why she thinks that is true, and will post them if she responds.

(I assume that having the Vatican a stone's throw away is probably the equivalent of abstinence-only sex ed here in the States, but what do I know...)

As for historical context, I fully appreciate that a lot of women in the 1950s probably thought women's masturbation was just as nasty as a lot young women apparently do today. But the same prohibition was there for premarital sex, or sex outside of a committed and longterm relationship. Today, few women have that prohibition--sex outside of a committed relationship is okay as long as it's with a partner. So this seems to me like a historically unique turn of events.

In France, from my POV

I guess France (my generation and the ones who come after) is much more homogeneously liberal about women's masturbation. I'd say as liberal as what americans imagine their liberal states to be. So much so that now it's the image of male masturbation that is lagging. To a girl, the culture readily says "great, you're exploring your body, you don't need a man for your orgasms, so when a man asks, you can say no, and it gives more value to your consent when you say yes".
But a boy still hears mixed messages which basically boil down to "ok, you're a male, you have your needs, you can use your right hand to take care of them, but more in a clinical pressure-release sense than an erotic experience; the gesture itself is gross, and a little pathetic, and you should really try to find yourself a girlfriend, otherwise you are a loser". Now how pathetic a fleshlite under the bed is perceived, I can only infer.
So, time for male masturbation to get out of that '50s limbo and be regarded as positively as female masturbation.
For those who read French, here's my thrapence take on the subject:

As a young woman who watched

As a young woman who watched porn at 13 (big mistake - it really screwed up my ideas on sex versus love) and had extremely poor sex education at school (romantic feelings weren't even considered it was all about the physical) I really appreciated your article. Women today need to read articles like this one and to not feel ashamed of their bodies. Thank you.

I think it's largely a

I think it's largely a regional, cultural thing. Religion and pornography are big in the US and both are two sides of the same coin. The 'virgin/whore' dichotomy is straight out of the bible and it's also the bread and butter of pornography. Women can't win in that kind of cultural milieu. They're either 'prudes' for not enjoying their sexuality or 'whores' for enjoying it. No wonder they feel so much confusion and shame about their own humanity.

How can you know what you like?

I find this hard to believe, in the U.S with the peddlers of the adult film industry. Young women are sexualised most of the time with the porn look, yet they have no idea about their own bodies and sexual pleasure- it's something that's needed to be given to you by a man.
That is insane, there is nothing wrong with masturbation, men do it all the time regardless of being in relationships, married or single. Yet women are made to feel like it's dirty! How are you going to know what you like? No wonder women are coy when it comes to oral sex. I'm an advocate of masturbation, you are guaranteed an intense orgasm. A great stress reliever, more women should!

I grew up on a farm in a

I grew up on a farm in a nonreligious house hold. I began exploring my body at an early age. I did not discover all these ridiculous restrictions on women till I was older. It really irritates me. In porn and society women are there only to give pleasure. How sad because from my experience we are capable of, what I think, much greater pleasure than any man is. The key is to know your body and be comfortable with it. This society is against that and are afraid of women's sexuality!!

I guess you haven't heard of the Dark Enlightenment.

"One of the questions she asked was whether I thought it was okay for women to masturbate. What? To me, as a sex educator, this was like asking if I thought it was okay for women to vote."

Dark Enlightenment bloggers have actually questioned the value of voting in general because they think monarchy and other undemocratic, pre-Enlightenment social-political structures deserve a second look.

I haven't encountered anything critical of women's masturbation, but opposition to it wouldn't surprise me because many DE thinkers argue that we need to roll back women's sexual freedom in general. Keeping women away from premarital sexual adventures might also require keeping them ignorant of their sexual functioning by discouraging masturbation.

Conflicts with evidence

When, according to sources cited by WebMD and Planned Parenthood, 89% of women masturbate (and 95% of men), it's hard to respect feminist claims of repression and vast inequality in masturbatory sexual freedom. There is no mention here of men's expressed feelings of shame and inadequacy tied to masturbation, something my male friends have all admitted and my female friends don't understand. If anything, it's men who masturbate ("wankers") who are made to feel inferior.

Americans obsess over sex and Europeans do it.

'Americans obsess over sex and Europeans do it'. I don't remember who said that, Mae West, Joan Rivers? I think that could include Britain, but anyway I was aware from my school years that many women think of masturbation as a men-only thing. It's certainly not something women tend to talk or joke about. It probably has a lot to do with personality type, but there is certainly a hushed culture about female masturbation. Maybe it's just female sexuality in general; in the middle ages they refused to believe women could be lesbians and wasn't therefore a crime - they are sex objects not sexual beings.

female masturbation

I'm a clinical psychologist and have found great resistance by health professionals and educators is teaching and encouraging masturbation to young women and teens, not only for mental and physical well being but also as a useful postponement of early unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy. We must do something to change this prejudice.

Vivien Wolsk, PhD

What's nasty is talking about

Look, we all know that it happens. It's a need. However, talking about it is taboo, perhaps even more than defecation or passing gas, since some people pretend that it might be possible to at least not masturbate. The fact that the author is male makes it really creepy. Actually promoting it is shameful. After all, those who need to masturbate usually find out about it.


You are sadly misguided. Seems talking about and promoting intercourse and other sexual activity and explicitly showing it as well as violence in film and media is fine with you and others yet masturbation which is a natural and healthy activity harming no one is somehow nasty.

women and sex

" those who need to masturbate usually find out about it."

Yes - but I think part of the point of the article was "if YOU don't know your pleasure points, and you are not willing to talk about it - then why are you putting it on a guy in know?"

Although, I have found young women are quite open talking about sex and self gratification. I had some much younger friends [originally met bowling, along with many others - not because I was trolling high schools or colleges, btw] [I was 50+, them about 25-30] and they just jumped into talking about sex standing around in a karaoke bar. There was no part of sex talk that was off limits.

I was a little thrown by all this - sheltered, un-experienced upbringing. But jumped right in, because things ARE much more open than my 1960s teen years.

Monica, I would suggest that you start talking to others your age [I hope you are 20-30, or at least under 40] and find out about what is now considered 'normal conversation'. AND if you have not found what it takes for complete satisfaction - LEARN - though I am sure you can find any number of guys willing to help. Just make sure you are SOBER, and make it clear - "Me First."

Funny thing, female

Funny thing, female masturbation. No chance of STDs or unwanted pregnancies, no promiscuity, no birth control - you'd think conservatives would welcome it with open arms. And unlike male masturbation, no seed is spilled so if you go down the religious path, there's nothing wrong with female masturbation either. I suppose though like with anything, if you can't control it by law then you have to Pass Judgment instead.

I was taught that it's sexy

I was taught that it's sexy and great for a woman to masturbate by a male, very late in life. I wish I had
Known earlier. I feel it would have helped with self confidence, and overall attractiveness in my early
Years. I feel the best and most attractive I have ever felt and masturbation has a great part to play in this.

nobody does it like me.

Now that I am divorced from my porn-emulating ex, I am SO much more orgasmic. Nevermind that I don't screw outside of a relationship, and haven't had many relationships since separation. I have masturbated (see, I can even spell it correctly) since I was 11, without guilt, and have only gotten "masterful" with it these last few years. Some men I've dated have become rather defensive when they learned I was more orgasmic without them than with them. T.F.B!!! Perhaps this is why a male dominated culture with male-centric religions continues to shame women for enjoying sex and pleasuring themselves. It's threatening to their (men's) egos. It isn't NASTY to self-pleasure. It's much MORE messy (and dangerous, on many levels) to have hetero sex. SO much clean-up. And often, a joke without a punchline. Masturbating cannot replace the warm feelings, intimacy and human contact. And that is huge. But for sexual tension? Everyone needs to be doing this. I think it is HOT when a man (one I'm dating) unabashedly tells me how many times a day he jerks off. YES. Own it. Let me watch. This bullshit of being embarrassed about normal human urges has passed its shelf life. Pitch it. I'm getting my teen nieces vibrators for their birthdays. Judging by their mom's Catholic, welfare mother ridden family of origin, maybe this will keep them independent as young women longer. (If she doesn't confiscate them with 40 foot tongs and remove them to the landfill.)
Lighten up folks (ladies AND men.) Lock the door, an harm ye none, do as ye please.

It starts in the womb - natural as breathing :)

There is evidence that many of us begin masturbating in utero. There is also evidence that females all have the ability to ejaculate (squirting orgasams (not pee)), have prostates, lots of erectile tissue and plumbing similar to men. Knowledge is not only power but this kind of knowledge can empower women freeing us from societal sexual repression and oppression. Female ejaculation can also prevent and treat UTIs. Once I learned more about my anatomy and what my body was capable of, I began enjoying my life more. I feel more connected, spiritual, and free. Better late than never. I am blessed and feel very grateful for the wonders of my body.

Masturbation is lovely. Congratulations for being Human.

Hey Karen

What a peaceful world it would be (or more peaceful, at least,) if everyone were as comfortable with their sexuality as we are. Namaste, sister.

you need to watch more p....

err - only happens when a penis....????
Err - lesbian porn, solo, toys - alot of men like watching women, not men !


I am really not sure if this is believable.
Been to a Spencers lately ?
Lots and lots of female play toys out there.
I have a little vibrator I keep in the shower,hell I like to work my own clit while having sex with my husband its amazing.
My friends masturbate we can even talk about it openly.
It is a basic human right why would anyone not do it,great stress relief.I think people in general just do not know how to make themselves happy with all aspects, that's why people expect others to make them happy.

God gave you a clitoris. It wasn't intended as a mean joke.

"why would anyone not do it,"

Because of repressive, usually religious, upbringing. Screw religions. They try to keep your whole big, beautiful life in a tiny, cramped box. Free yourself.

Shower massage by water pik. I still laugh when I remember their commercial from the 70's: "Why just turn on water...when the water can turn you on.." Oh, yeah, they knew exactly what they were selling, and why. Thank Goddess for my shower massage. Extra long hose, so you can lay down. Don't be without one. And bacterial vaginosis? Probiotic with cranberry. On the aisle with the tampons. You're welcome.

Everyone Has a Body

In this day and age, it is astonishing that American movies and television can be filled with violence, but people are so clueless about sex. The human body is not nasty...everyone has one, yet it still is thought of by many as this mysterious thing that cannot be explored, even by the one who lives in it. How in the world can one learn what they enjoy with a partner if they don't know how to please oneself? A big part of being in a successful relationship is intimacy. This cannot be achieved with a bunch of clueless mechanical beings.

my story

Every morning, right after I wake up, I stick this long phallic plastic thing in my mucous membrane-lined orifice and go to town. In and out, in and out. I'm really thorough about it, and it doesn't take me long to finish. This incredible amount of foamy white stuff is dripping out the whole time. As I finish, a whole load of white stuff comes out. I feel soooo much better when I'm done. Sure, it's a huge mess, but it's well worth it. I do it because it know that I need to in order to stay healthy.

Then, after I'm done brushing my teeth, sometimes I go masturbate. Not nearly as messy. But healthy, just the same. ;-)

If you don't know how, search Youtube. It's your body. Enjoy it.

Maybe It's Different in the Big City

That was beautiful, Fingers. There are so many truly nasty things we have to deal with in life. How can masturbation be considered even remotely nasty compared to them? (Not that I find brushing my teeth particularly nasty, but you know what I mean.)

I came of age in the 1980s in Chicago, and most of my peers were pretty open about how often they masturbated and what toys they used. Maybe not so much in high school, but certainly by college.

I really think the attitude of disgust toward women's masturbation must be a regional thing. Unless things have changed radically in the past 25 years. I know America is becoming more prudish and puritanical in some ways, but surely young girls still play with themselves. They must!

I agree

I was married for 18 years and never had an orgasm with my husband, I did not have sex for many years after because I felt it was not worth it until only very recently reading a similar post on masturbation I decided to try it, I was unsuccessful the first time in achieving an orgasm but I was determined before I die I had to. I decided to put on d TV on a soft porn channel and boy that was all I needed, I cannot believe I was a 49 year old woman enjoying an orgasm for d first time in my life, after that I decided to do like this lady every single day before work I had to masturbate many times too and now I am addicted. I still don't have a lover, so it works well for me and I feel great about it, owning several sex toys now because they make me happy. Reading this article I think it's important to make women aware it's natural and healthy to do so and I don't have to worry about sexual diseases

Female masturbation

I masturbated at a very young age, sometimes sharing the experience with another little girl. Each on her own, but we did exchange giggles and told each other what we felt. I grew up on a farm, where human as well as animal sex was quite visible and taken for granted.
But it was not something I´d talk about with my family. Farm children seem to learn to defend themselves from rape by farmhands just by instinct. Nonetheless, we loved to tease male workers, lifting our skirts at them and running away, fast.
Little Lolitas! Small girls have sexual feelings and tend to rub themselves against male adults' knees. It's no wonder that they DO get abused by uncles, brothers or friends of the family. It's a complicated issue. I sometimes wonder how I kept out of harm's way, and that my parents didn't keep a closer watch on me.
Now that I'm a grown woman, I find that masturbation is relaxing and even eases aches and pains.
I had some boyfriends and was married twice. Neither of my husbands appreciated it when I gently guided their hands to my pleasure spots. Their attitude was that "they knew best" and would "teach me". That's OK, but honestly I believe that's what leads many women to fake orgasms, just to get it all over with. Because if you don't orgasm men think you're frigid, or else they try and try in their own fashion until the woman is exhausted.
Thank god for sex toys and changing habits, but there's still a long way to go. Nasty?? HA.

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Paul Joannides, Psy.D., is a research psychoanalyst, author of Guide To Getting It On, and a speaker on college campuses. more...

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