Female masturbation: it isn’t always what you expect

Wank (Interior Door) - Sophie Crow, 2012National Masturbation Month has come around again – hooray! What better way to welcome the spring, and look forward to summer, than with a whole month dedicated to self-pleasure?

Petra and I were talking about the best way to celebrate the month, and we decided that as we’ve recently discussed male masturbation in porn, it’d be great to highlight some of the more unique methods of female masturbation. Even though most mainstream porn shows women wanking frantically air guitar style whilst staring into the camera more focused on doing a great performance than genuinely getting off, Petra told me that:

“Alternative porn is great for celebrating new ways to document self-pleasuring. There is a legendary scene of Annie Sprinkle having an earth-shattering megagasm using a Hitachi Magic Wand on herself in her classic film “Sluts and Goddesses”. Annie is completely absorbed in the self pleasure and seems to have forgotten that she is on a film set. I also love the ground-breaking film “Orgasm – Faces Of Ecstasy” that features women (and men) of all ages pleasuring themselves but all we see are their faces, uncut. The range of emotions is beautiful and this intimate glimpse of other people’s self-pleasuring is liberating and inspirational.”


You can check out some unique and awesome female masturbation in some of the Her Porn compilations.

Before we start it’s worth highlighting that these techniques don’t apply specifically to women, but to anyone with a vulva, clitoris and vagina, which naturally includes a lot of trans and non-binary people too. I think the tricky thing when talking about masturbation (and this applies to sex toys too) is that, despite the fact that anyone and everyone can masturbate in a variety of different ways, we still have rigidly gendered ideas about it. The idea that women all have the same kind of genitals and respond to the same kind of stimulation combines with other misconceptions we have: that men wank in a particular way for relief, women wank usually for performance on camera or in front of a partner, etc.

So let’s use National Masturbation Month as a way to challenge some of those ideas, and celebrate all the gorgeous and varied ways in which people masturbate.

Wank (Two pairs of knickers and a hairbrush) - Sophie Crow, 2012Masturbation positions

Often women are depicted masturbating while lying down face-up – reclining on a bed, legs spread and ecstatic expression on their face. While that’s pretty much how I do it (with the exception that my face probably looks more screwed-up in concentration than ‘ecstatic’) many women find it more comfortable to wank lying on their front, or in the doggy position, or sitting in a chair at their desk while they watch a great porn scene.

This time last year, an artist named Sophie Crow released a book of illustrated masturbation techniques, as explained to her by female contributors. The result was a diverse and fascinating mixture of masturbation techniques, as well as interesting positions. One of the illustrations that Sophie kindly allowed us to publish in this blog is from a woman’s story of masturbating by frotting against the edge of a doorway – holding the handles on either side to keep balance as she came.

For as many positions as you can think to have sex, there are equally as many in which you can wank – the only limit is your imagination!

Clothed and naked masturbation

Personally, I’m rarely naked when I masturbate. Nor am I wearing a sexy outfit. Maybe on special occasions or when I have time to put the effort in, I might wear a corset (yes, really – it’s more about the squeezing sensation than the look!) but mostly I’m in jeans and a sweater.

I feel like it’s important to highlight this because so often female masturbation is portrayed as performance, done mainly for the person who is watching. In porn this usually is the case – the person is aware they’re being filmed and is putting on a performance for the audience. But just as it’s important to recognise the difference between ‘porn sex’ versus ‘real sex’, so it’s also worth noting that the vast majority of wanks are done for function and personal pleasure rather than for the pleasure of an audience.

Masturbation tools that aren’t sex toys

One of the fascinating things that comes up when you talk about masturbation is just how inventive people are. While often women are depicted using sex toys for masturbation (and, in fact, there seems to be more of a stigma surrounding men using sex toys than women), there’s an even broader world out there of women who use found objects to masturbate with.

Sophie’s book highlights a woman who used a hairbrush to rub herself through two pairs of knickers – the friction made for really interesting orgasms! I once had a friend who told me one of her formative sexual experiences involved a china ornament that she had on her bedroom windowsill. At a certain point, having been used to looking at it for years, she realised that the size and shape was perfect for the right kind of stimulation. Other women have told similar stories – from remote controls to tennis balls, to shampoo and deodorant bottles, vegetables and fruit, there are plenty of objects that have been used for masturbation.

I should point out here that safety always comes first! There are certain objects which can be dangerous to wank with, or cause infections, so be aware of what you’re choosing. However I’m a firm believer that – particularly with women masturbating – we’re often encouraged to do so if and only if someone can make money out of it. Awesome sex toys are all well and good, but there’s no obligation to use one if you have something clean and safe that you prefer.

As with lots of sexual things, as soon as you look beneath the surface – the standard images and videos that are used to represent it – you find the act itself is far more interesting. Female masturbation may often be depicted in one way in porn, but the truth of how we masturbate in the real world is much more fun. Creative, interesting, unique, and never entirely what you might expect…

If you’re curious about other masturbation techniques, please do check out Sophie Crow’s book WANK: an illustrated book of female masturbation, which you can buy direct from her on Etsy.

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