Female masturbation - real women talk about how and when they masturbate

Her pleasure, her way!

ILLUSTRATIONs  Azad Mohan ILLUSTRATIONs Azad Mohan

Smita Sharma was on a trip to Europe when she discovered the joys of masturbation. “All those good looking men all around, plus the fact that I was alone in a room far away from the rest of the family, gave me the privacy I needed,” reminisces the 44-year-old homemaker from Mumbai, who was 22 at the time. 

Smita even remembers the date and time of her momentous self-discovery as she spills the details, “The palpitations were bloody worth it. Up until then, 

I used to feel cosy with a pillow in between, but didn’t explore further. But that day I just knew I had to because I had the privacy I needed. No one can beat fingers to it!" After experiencing what it was like to get an orgasm, she never went a single week without it. 

While we did find a few women who revel in self-pleasure, it was not easy. Not all women masturbate and it was tough to find women who do it and were willing to speak about it to THE MAN despite assurances that their names would be changed. 

What women feel?

Syeda Ruksheda, psychiatrist and psychotherapist from Mumbai, explains, “Masturbation is mired in misinformation and stigma. For a majority of people, it is still not acceptable for men, let alone women. They feel that though men shouldn’t do it, men will. However, for women to even be aware of their sexuality is taboo. Even now, in movies, a woman is supposed to be innocent and pure and untouched.”

Also read: Male masturbation beyond myths

While Dr. Ruksheda didn’t mention any specific movie, one is reminded of the character played by Swara Bhaskar in the Bollywood movie Veere di Wedding. In a so-called progressive film, Swara’s character Sakshi was overcome by guilt because she was “caught” by her husband when she was in the middle of an explosive orgasm while using a vibrator. The movie goes on to show that Sakshi was so ashamed of using a sex toy to masturbate that she preferred to start drinking heavily rather than reveal the “wrong” thing she did. This leads to a situation where the couple is not only headed for divorce, but the ridiculous settlement terms include a few crores to the husband in exchange for keeping her “shameful act” under wraps.

From reel life to real life, educated and supposedly feisty women in an urban setting can be guilt-ridden or terribly afraid of masturbating because of their conditioning.

Even if they are not afraid of masturbation, some may worry about things like keeping their hymen intact (losing virginity) like 28-year-old Ankita Dixit, a doctor from Jaipur. She explains her source of fear: “My biology teacher in 10th standard told our class that our reproductive organs are fragile like peeled watermelons. So we should take proper care to not hurt ourselves. I was so scared that I only tried clitoral stimulation for years.”

Also read: Confessions of a serial first dater

When, Where and How do Women Discover Self Pleasure?

Not all women have a eureka moment like Smita, and achieving orgasm may involve trial and error. Tania Dutta, a 29-year-old a yoga expert from Kolkata, had no patience to masturbate, and she finally discovered it at the ripe old age of 23. “A friend explained the right way to do it when I was staying in a hostel. I had tried it a couple of times before that, but the technique was wrong and I gave up too easily,” says Tania about the time when she did not know how to do it.

Practice made it perfect and she claims, “Now I know all the right spots and I can squirt too. My tip is to stimulate the labia!”

Not all women discuss such topics with their friends and might not even know about the ways to masturbate and how one technique doesn’t fit all. Some can orgasm by merely rubbing against a pillow or some surface and don’t even need to use their fingers.

Dr. Ankita accidentally discovered masturbation as a 13-year-old while cleaning up during her periods. At the time, she didn’t even know what she was doing and just liked the feeling. Years later she knew that she was experiencing an orgasm. However, after the scarring description by her school teacher, she confesses that it took a lot to overcome the fear of using her fingers to penetrate and explore further. “Mind you, I was in medical college and knew our bodies are capable of taking much more than that. But, it was always at the back of my mind. I never tried penetration (with fingers) until I was in my second year of college.”

Why no guilt for some?

Despite all the stigma around female sexuality and the myths surrounding masturbation, there are women who don’t experience any guilt or shame and are just happy to experience mind-blowing orgasms.

When asked about why she is not embarrassed, Smita describes why she owns the experience, “Well...to put it simply, in happiness and in grief, I know how to fix myself and to reward myself. It is the biggest stress buster anytime, anywhere. No need to find another pair of hands.” According to her, it is a “must-do” activity at least once a day to keep stress at bay.

That is backed by research too. Different studies show that orgasms through sex or masturbation can not only help reduce stress but even help cope with pain. Some even claim that it can help alleviate pain during periods. 

Also read: Here's all you need to know about female orgasm

Says Tania, “Men just can’t accept that they can’t make us orgasm. They finish too early and don’t understand that it takes way longer and you are simply wet, which is not the same as getting an orgasm.” Tania had aced the art of achieving an orgasm at 23 and never felt guilty even for a second. In fact, she wonders why she didn’t discover it earlier.

How does the not-so-typical man react?

We have heard about the fragile male ego and some women did mention that the men in their lives felt hurt when they found out they couldn’t satisfy them.

Dr. Ankita says, “I had pretty understanding partners. Never had to explain masturbation. I always got some help with it. I think it is mostly because guys think giving the woman an orgasm is their responsibility and they will take whatever route is available.”

Smita exclaims, “So far, only one man could ever please me using his fingers the way I could please myself.”

Dr. Ruksheda points out that younger adults who are used to sexting or phone sex find masturbation more acceptable. After all, even though a partner is involved, ultimately you would need to masturbate to orgasm because the partner is not physically present.

It’s so natural, even kids do it!

Dr. Ruksheda says that kids as young as 4 or 5 touch or fondle themselves and discover what pleases them. They don’t know what they are doing, but the stimulation makes them feel happy. This is completely natural and sometimes kids may do it and forget all about it or it may become a habit.

Also read: What women talk about

At this time, it is important for parents and teachers to let the kids figure it out themselves and not have a knee jerk reaction. According to her, in most cases, “Their first instinct is to scold the child and tell them not to do that because it is wrong or dirty. Then most parents worry that their kids have been molested, which is how they got to know about it. Sometimes, teachers get really offended wondering where the kids are learning to do such things. They speculate that the parents might be showing them something inappropriate. Some may also worry that other kids will start doing it.” 

Such reactions can obviously be scarring for kids who might grow up fearing that they are doing something wrong. The biases of parents and teachers who grew up with these fears may influence the attitude of the children. But, this may be changing slowly as there is information to dispel these myths.

According to Dr. Ruksheda, most millennials and Generation Z who grew up with more exposure don’t think of it as a big deal compared to those who are older. By the time they are 12 or 13, there is a natural curiosity and awareness to know more about their body. She says, “These days girls have menarche earlier and they have more access to information. We are talking about sex education in schools with topics like good touch, bad touch, no touch and consent are discussed. Having this kind of conversation around them helps kids these days. They don't feel that these thoughts or their own bodies are alien.” 

How Men React

The Good

Feel like helping her orgasm as she masturbates

Focus on her pleasure 

The Bad

Feel sad or hurt for not being able to satisfy her

Focus on ego 

The Ugly

Feel angry that she is aware of how to pleasure herself

Focus on virginity and purity

Barriers to Female Masturbation

1. Don’t know how to go about it

2. Taboos and myths 

3. Knee-jerk reaction of parents 

4. Body shaming 

5. Lack of privacy

6. Fear of losing virginity (breaking the hymen)

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