The option of talking about sexual pleasure and self pleasure is almost non-existent in most Indian spaces. When it comes to female pleasure, the concept is yet too taboo to discuss openly. Up until a few years ago, there was a complete void when it came to the topic of female pleasure. People, excluding a select few who have gone out of their way to do their own research, believed (and still do) that female sexual pleasure did not exist. Sex was seen as a ‘man’s thing’, and female orgasms were thought to be the stuff of trivial fantasies. Not only were women kept uninformed about the pleasure their bodies were capable of, but it was also heavily implied that they should not expect pleasure from masturbating or sex with their partner.
By keeping them in the dark and denying them the pleasure that is rightfully theirs, this narrative has hurt generations of women.
When it comes to shame around self pleasure, Indian women experience it in an unfortunately tremendous amount. When I think about this topic, one particular client of mine comes to my mind. She had approached me for help for her low sex drive which was affecting her married life. When I asked her if she masturbated or not, her discomfort towards the word itself was obvious. I have had many clients of mine, especially women, flinch at the word “masturbating”.
Many women feel like masturbation and masturbating is a perverted activity, even when done in the privacy of their own rooms. They fear that they will come off as having loose morals if they admit to enjoying self pleasure and sexual pleasure.
Much of this discomfort comes from the misinformation and stigma surrounding the topic. My before-mentioned client, for example, believed that it was the masturbation that lessened her sex drive and was constantly dragged down by that guilt. I have met and talked to countless women who are deeply unaware of their own bodies. Not only do they not know the right names for their genitals, but they are also unaware of the mere existence of many important parts of their genitals. For example, many young women aren’t even aware that stimulating their clitoris is an incredibly pleasurable act that can feel just as or even better than penetration.
The lack of knowledge often gets in the way of them being able to enjoy their sex life. It makes them uncomfortable with their own body and its needs.
The best way to push through such a phenomenon is to get women to get in touch with their own bodies. Betty Dodson, a revolutionary sex educator, once did a segment that blew me away. She made a group of willing women take a hand mirror and look at their vulva. The only reason many Indian women address their genitals is for cleaning purposes only. They feel so detached from or even ashamed of that part of themselves. This activity made them stop, take their time and truly get familiar and, most of all, appreciate their vulva. I encourage all women, young or old, to do the same.
After the visual component comes the tactile component. Once you have a relatively clear mental picture of what your vulva looks like, it’s time to feel! Many women, when they think of masturbation, they picture fingers or toys penetrating the vaginal canal. There is much more to self pleasure than the in and out motion. Gently touching and teasing the sensitive skin of the inner thighs, labia and clitoris can be extremely pleasurable. There are many masturbating techniques that a woman can use to pleasure themselves. I recommend a technique called ‘Orbiting’ for beginners as it focuses mainly on clitoral stimulation and exploration.
Once you have gotten started on this journey of self pleasure, you will realize that there is not just a single way to pleasure yourself. Orbiting helps you find out what areas you are most and least sensitive to. If your clitoral hood is not very sensitive, you might have to apply direct pressure to your clitoris to feel pleasure. If you have a sensitive clitoral hood, you might find staying away from the most sensitive part to be more fun. It all depends on your own body.
Masturbation has never been and will never be something you should be ashamed of. Wanting to feel or making an effort to receive pleasure is not wrong in any form.
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Read other articles by Pallavi Barnwal on InSync here.