Ladies, what them hands do?

Masturbation is usually a word associated with men and pornography and it has been this way in society for quite some time. Women were told to associate sex with marriage and reproduction mostly- with a rare few being taught that it could go hand-in-hand with pleasure too. It’s only in recent years that the absurd idea that women may pleasure themselves without the help of a partner took to the stage with the introduction of mainstream erotic fiction such as the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy and more modern visual works such as the series Bridgerton on Netflix. However, outside of conversations around these mainstream books and series, female pleasure is still very much a hush-hush topic of discussion and so, for many, this remains something that they only feel at liberty to share with their partners and a select few friends.

The truth is that women masturbate a lot more than the greater society might think. We may be less vocal – in talking about it, that is – but we’d be lying if we said we hadn’t all copped a feel once or twice. 

In preparing for this piece, I asked a few of my closest friends to partake in an anonymous survey about masturbation – although some have code words for this act – and were quite surprised to learn that most of them touch themselves on a regular basis. Another interesting fact I learned was that not all women experience feelings of pleasure and release, but some even expressed feelings of guilt and shame after doing something that should, in my humble opinion, be as easy to talk about as the weather or a trip to the mall. 

So, for those of you looking to get more acquainted with either your own vagina or your partners, here are a few tips that I’ve tried and tested to ensure that I’m having just as many real orgasms as I’ve faked. And these without increasing my risk of getting STD’s or other unpleasant reactions (bladder and yeast infections after sex are real things, not to mention allergic reactions to latex and not being able to close your legs – true story).

OMGYes, aptly named because this is what I assume they’re hoping you’ll say after visiting their site, has been described as the feminine equivalent of Kamasutra for women, the site is a large-scale peer-reviewed and published research platform that interviews women between the ages of 18 and 95 about various pleasure techniques and what works for them. 

And one of the most outstanding things about their site is their desire to educate everyone who cares about women's sexual pleasure and who wants to make it even better. I’m hoping is most of the world’s population feels this way, although some of my sexual encounters have really made me feel as if my pleasure was last on the list of priorities when it came to sex.

In a world that’s always had a negative stigma around honest conversations and woman’s pleasure when it comes to sex and masturbation, not to mention discouraged it, I am all for online spaces that not only encourage these types of conversations, but do so without judgement in an unashamed way.

For those interested, there is a once off joining fee that gets you access to previous and upcoming seasons where they touch on topics such as edging and clitoral stimulation to enhance your pleasure whether you’re riding solo, or exploring with your significant other.

While I’m a firm believer that there’s always something to be learned, if I’m being honest, some days all I really want is to reach that big O. And I found that exploring the porn sites that men do, don’t offer a great selection of visual stimulation that doesn’t involve women faking it, or worse, women in unsettling & violent situations.

That is, until I was told about Bellesa – a free porn site which was created for women, by women for this exact reason and was launched, much to my surprise, in 2017. While their main focus initially was to create a site that provided porn centred on women and their desires and fantasies, they also provide their viewers with erotica, Sex Ed and a Community via their Bellesa plus subscription, not to mention a Sex Toy Store for those who are looking for alternate means of stimulation. 

And while these sites and steps towards female pleasure and opportunities to explore this in more detail are exciting, sometimes I find myself gravitating back to my original stash of love stories and erotic novels, such as E.L. James 50 Shades of Gray and Sylvia Days’ Crossfire series – which is less well-known and may be a trigger for those who’ve survived traumatic sexual experiences. 

And for those really adventurous readers – I have not forgotten about you. If you find yourself in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town anytime soon and in need of a new Bob (battery operated boyfriend), take a trip to mysexshop located in Benjamin Road in Wynberg. It’s lack of signage and plain-Jane exterior make it easy for passer’s by to think you’re just visiting a friend and if you’re concerned that your purchases may give you away, they have this neat trick that show all payments as shoe purchases, ensuring that your pleasurable purchase remains discreet and is even disguised as an online purchase in their standard, unadorned plastic packaging. 

While I do believe we have a long way to go before women can freely speak about pleasure and sex, not only in their partners and friends company, but in other open spaces and with larger groups as well, I do hope that for those of you who came along for this ride, that there will be a happy ending at the end of the day for you – whether that’s with yourself, Bob, or your boo.