“We don’t trust women to be the experts on their own bodies,” goes a quote by Maya Dusenbery. It’s a poignant quote, one that clearly depicts the puzzling reality that often has women being strangers to their bodies and plagued with shame and guilt for desiring to explore themselves. For a sociey that praises itself as being ‘pro sex education’, it’s ironic for self-pleasure to be reduced to whispers and blank stares of shock and discomfort, especially where women are the subject.
According to a study, only 25% of women are consistently orgasmic during vaginal intercourse. In another study, over 70% of women who are sexually active reported not having vaginal orgasms during intercourse. Research has also revealed that women who masturbate are more likely to have fulfilling sex lives, better health, better marriages, and an overall increase in self-confidence.
Surprisingly, many women do not know these facts, even their partners. In fact, some women do not even know how their clitorises feel like. Myths about female orgasm are abound, many of which intend to shame women for enjoying sexÔÇöfrom stories of demon possession, it being an act of ‘loose women’ to it being described as produced only by a phallus. Contrary to popular belief; scientifically, masturbation has proven to have some health benefits.
One of the barriers that always have women shying away from stimulating themselves is their partners. Often men report feeling as though they aren’t performing well if their women masturbate more than once a month.
Society still rampantly conditions women to believe sexual pleasure is a privilege designated solely for men through its cultural and religious norms; something which leaves many women sexually frustrated and even depressed if intercourse doesn’t make them orgasm.
Arts & Culture asked a few women about this issue.
“I have never reached an orgasm in my life, no matter the size of my past partners’ manhood. I thought something was wrong with me or that maybe women just aren’t meant to orgasm. I’m too ashamed to touch myself,” said Tebogo.
Khumiso, a counsellor at Tebelopele, says women need to know their bodies for them to know how to be pleasured. “Masturbation gives women an understanding of their own pleasure points and this helps many women find it easier to share their ‘hot spots’ with a partner. It allows communication to happen which normally doesn’t between partners on how to make sure they are both satisfied,” she explained.
“Women who masturbate become more confident and sexually aware of their bodies. Learning to control and deliver their own sexual pleasure, women are more sexually confident with and without their clothes. Turning from a borrower of her body to an owner of her pleasure, each woman learns that it is acceptable to be confident in her sexual fulfillment,” says Hunter who is a blogger on sexual issues.
The topic of masturbation remains taboo mainly due to reservations cultivated by moral norms. While many women go through their lives faking orgasms or with no orgasm at all, they might just be a hand or a personal toy away from learning what makes them tick.