We spoke to five women about their masturbation habits

Article by Jessie Stephens /
Mamamia /
April 21, 2017 /
Click here to view original /

It’s time we celebrated one of the best sexual experiences a woman can have: sexy time with yo’self.

Despite male masturbation being a fairly ordinary feature of pop culture, from television to movies and song lyrics, female masturbation remains bizarrely taboo.

Just this week, a woman decided to pack a vibrator when entering into a couples swap on Seven Year Switch. Rather than congratulating her on owning her sexuality on prime time television, many clutched their pearls and yelled; “WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”

(Despite the obvious fact that if women were devoid of sexual impulses there likely would be no children).

Is Monique Bowley a prude if she doesn’t want to see vibrators on television? Mia Freedman and I say yes, on the latest episode of Mamamia Out Loud.

In a world where you can get ogre, tentacle and even pterodactyl porn on demand (…or so I’ve heard) apparently it is still off-limits to openly and comfortably discuss the fact that women masturbate.

So in the interests of breaking down taboos, and normalising this utterly normal experience, we spoke to five women about their solo sex lives and here’s what we found.

How many times a week do you masturbate?

For all women, as expected, it varies.

Melissa said she masturbates three to five times a week on average, and Laura estimated three to four.

Fatima, Alice and Elle said it was generally once a week. According to a study in The Journal of Sex Research, that’s about average.

Do you watch pornography? And if so, what category?

Three of the five women had no interest in pornography, although Elle said she reads erotica because, “imagination is more fun anyway”.

Laura said that although she doesn’t watch pornography online, she does look at photos. “The photos are generally of women’s butts in G-strings,” she explained. “I’m not gay, that’s just what turns me on.”

Alice doesn’t watch pornography all the time, but when she does she watches lesbian porn. “I think it’s because it focuses more on female pleasure,” she reflected, adding, “It’s the only category I find arousing, to be honest.”

Alice’s habits are corroborated by research, which has found that the most popular porn category for women is ‘lesbian’.

In 2014, Cosmopolitan magazine surveyed 4,000 women and found that 85 percent of their straight, female audience had watched some form of lesbian pornography.

Interestingly, the second most popular category for women is male gay porn.

Researcher Dr Lauren Rosewarne suggests that this is because gay porn does what straight porn fails to do: It sexualises the male body. It would appear that women very much enjoy looking at beautiful male bodies, as evidenced by what she has termed the ‘Magic Mike phenomenon’.

How old were you when you first masturbated?

Laura says she must have been about 5, “I had no idea what it was called. I thought I was the only person in the world who’d figured out that if you put your hands between your legs and rub it feels good.”

Fatima thinks she was around 10 or 11 when she started to ‘feel’ something, which eventually became masturbation. Melissa says she was about 15 when she consciously masturbated for the first time.

Alice and Elle estimate 18.

Do you use, or own, any sex toys?

Two women simply answered no, with Laura responding, “Nah. My hand does a pretty good job.”

Ellie said she owned a few sex toys, and the Lelo Ina wave is her favourite. Alice uses a vibrator about half the time, but said she generally has better orgasms by just using her hand.

Are you comfortable speaking about masturbation openly? Or do you sense there is a stigma?
This was a question just about everyone could agree on.

“I have literally never discussed it out loud with another person!” Laura said. “My friends would like occasionally joke about masturbation as if it’s hilarious and no one owns up to doing it.”

Alice said she only ever speaks about it with her girlfriends, and “my husband still doesn’t know I do it!”
Melissa agreed that it’s still widely understood to be a secret, “I’m starting to begin to work it into conversations to test the waters, however, I definitely sense there is a stigma among my friendship group at least.”

As part of my research, I spoke to five men about their assumptions regarding female masturbation.

They were fairly spot on when it came to how many times a week women masturbated, and said men probably do it twice as often. When it came to the subject of pornography, almost all of them assumed women watched it frequently, but none identified lesbian porn as a popular category. Most assumed it was straight, one thought male gay porn and another said amateur or solo women.

The average age men guessed women began masturbating was 13, and when asked if they think women regularly use sex toys, four of the five answered “yes”.

But most agreed, yet again, on the subject of stigma. Three assumed women don’t discuss masturbation at all with their friends. Two added that while they talked about it with their girlfriends, socially, it’s not encouraged for women to be open about their habits.

So today, let’s open a conversation about female masturbation, and acknowledge that it’s part of a normal and healthy sex life – in exactly the same way it is for men.