“Women and wanking”

I was recently chatting to a lesbian friend of mine about the differences between gay and heterosexual relationships. She asked me what it was like to be a woman in a relationship with a man. Did I think there were differences between lesbian and straight relationships, particularly in regards to the emotional and physical aspects? Did I think that two women in a relationship were likely to be more intimate or connected with one another, particularly during sex, than a man and a woman? As the conversation progressed I learnt that these questions had been prompted by several conversations she had had with straight men who seemed to know very little about the female anatomy or how to pleasure their sexual partners.

After that conversation I started to reflect upon my sexual experiences, both with male partners and with myself. I lost my virginity when I was 16 and I’ve been in several relationships since then, but I didn’t have my first orgasm until I met my current partner at the age of 19. Looking back on my relationships with men and on my understanding of myself I realized that none of us really knew what we were doing. My partners based their entire knowledge of how to pleasure a woman on the porn industry; one of them used to say on a regular basis that ‘everything I know I learnt from porn, baby’. Needless to say he didn’t know a lot. In school Sex Ed was beyond pointless and it succeeded in teaching us nothing, whilst successfully scaremongering about pregnancy and STI’s. It’s not surprising that young people (of both sexes) seek to learn about sex elsewhere.

Girls are socialized from an early age by magazines (and the media more broadly) that their role in life is to be skinny and to please men. Magazines targeted at women are all about how to satisfy their boyfriends and it is instilled in us that we will die alone and miserable if we fail to snare one…and the way to do it? You guessed it- feed him and jerk him off on a regular enough basis. Young men learn what they ‘should’ like sexually from the media and from porn (large breasts, skinny waists and facials) and use it as an example of what they need to do to please a woman in bed.

Masturbation is seen as a male past time, making it much harder for women to develop an understanding of their own bodies and what they want sexually. In my experience it is taboo for women to talk about it and many assume that because it’s not talked about other women mustn’t be doing it and that it is wrong to explore your own body. The idea that masturbation is a male past-time means that porn films are predominantly targeted at men, creating a scarily unrealistic portrayal of what actually turns women on. Guys who use porn as an educational tool are unlikely to get it right.
o For me, the taboo around masturbation has meant that I don’t even know what I enjoy myself. At this point in time I definitely cannot make myself orgasm. I have grown up from the age of 16 always being made to feel that I need a man to be a full person. That because I have a man I can rely on him to fulfill my sexual needs, despite the fact that I don’t actually know anything about them. I have therefore assumed that because they have spent half of their lives watching porn, and porn is where you learn about sexually pleasuring somebody, that they must know what they are doing. Taken to its conclusion, the line of thought follows that because they know what they’re doing there must something wrong with me for not enjoying it.

Having come to this realization rather late in the game I feel quite disappointed in myself (and a little embarrassed to say the least). I feel stupid for not realizing or at least questioning all of this sooner. I wish I’d had the conversations I’ve had with my friend quite a few years ago and for that reason I thought I would share my musings in the hope that it would start someone else off on the road to self discovery.


Here are some links to websites that give some more details about women and masturbation:





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