A Spot of D.I.Y.

Written by on 04/19/2013 in Sex

Masturbation through the agesMasturbation is good for you. And good for your partner too–he stands a small chance of pushing your buttons if you don’t know where they are yourself. I’m a big believer in getting to know your own body and your own desires. Men have no qualms about this, so neither should we.

Female masturbation has lost its taboo, with the rise of popular sex toys for women such as the rabbit vibrator making it more socially acceptable for women to admit to self-pleasuring and enjoying sex toys by themselves. Yet surveys do show that around 25% of women never masturbate [Editor's note: this varies quite a bit according to demographics, but here's the Kinsey Institute's statistics]. Either that, or they’re not admitting it. This underlying shame about masturbation goes back to medieval ideas about sex and sin, but it wasn’t always that way. . .

Masturbation through the Ages

Ancient cultures were, it seems, pretty relaxed about masturbation; archaeologists unearthed a figurine in Malta showing a female masturbating that dates back to 4,000 BC. The Sumerian civilization a few centuries later recommended masturbation as a way to increase fertility. In the ancient Indian classic, the Kama Sutra, techniques for masturbation are described in detail, such as assuming the posture of “a lion’s pounce” (I’ve tried and failed to work this out).

The ancient Egyptians regarded masturbation particularly highly, as the god Atum, according to a popular creation myth, masturbated the universe into existence, and the Pharoahs would masturbate into the Nile as part of a sacred fertility ritual.

The Greeks didn’t regard it as being quite so sacred, but saw it as a necessary and healthy function. A great deal of their art and literature included depictions of female masturbation, interesting in a culture famed for its homosexuality. Presumably Grecian women had no one to do it for them, as their husbands were reportedly too engrossed in each other!

Unfortunately, fast-forward a couple of thousand years, by which time the religious “sex is a sin” myth has firmly taken hold, and the picture is very different. By the 1700’s masturbation was being blamed for all sorts of ailments and indulging in it was believed to cause gout, rheumatism, epilepsy, madness and suicidal inclinations. It even had its own medical name; “onanism.” In Connecticut, “masturbators” could face the death penalty!

Things got worse in Victorian times when boys’ trouser pockets were stitched at different angles to prevent them touching themselves and girls were forbidden to ride horses or bicycles in case the friction “simulated masturbation.” However, this was also the era in which the first vibrator was invented. These handy devices for relieving female ailments have gone from strength to strength.

So if you needed an excuse to give yourself some me-time, you would be hard pushed to come up with a better one than doing it in the name of female empowerment. Unfortunately we can’t go back in time and hand our deprived seventeenth century sisters a three-speed rabbit vibrator, but we can certainly be responsible for our own pleasure!

Female masturbation statistics from HappyPlayTime

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Scarlett Ryan

Scarlett Ryan is a thirty-two year old former porn actress, having worked for Playboy TV, Red Hot TV and Television X, among others. She now writes erotica and, as she once stated in an interview, she aims to "turn the whole world on!" Her memoir, Sex in Stilettos: My Life in Porn is available from Peaches Press on Amazon. She also practices yoga, which keeps her sane.

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