Women who masturbate to orgasm rarely talk about the pleasure they enjoy for a number of reasons. Most other women react with evident disgust if masturbation is ever mentioned. If a woman tells a male partner, he may interpret it as a turn-on and want to have intercourse. Women are also embarrassed to admit the nature of their fantasies. This quite natural.
Our fantasies represent aspects of sex that we find most arousing, taboo or embarrassing. Even men do not admit the explicit and crude sexual images that they need to focus on for orgasm. These are our most private and personal thoughts. This is why we can be fairly sure that women who boast about orgasm have never had one. Women are unembarrassed because they don’t understand that arousal (and the consequent orgasm) must arise from thinking about something crude. Women assume that arousal arises from emotional interaction with a lover or as a result of physical stimulation.
Women’s sexual fantasies involve taboo themes with unreal sexual partners and surreal activities. A woman can imagine engaging in surreal sexual activity with complete strangers. Women use fictitious men in their fantasies who can be depersonalised and made into ‘sex objects’ to be used for arousal rather than beings with their own needs. This contrasts with sex where she is aware of her lover as a social person who she loves.
During masturbation a woman uses surreal but explicitly sexual scenarios with a complex psychological context. Typically, they involve taboo acts that are highly embarrassing to admit to. Women’s fantasies include taboo themes such as sadism, domination and rape. They are impossible to relate to everyday sexual opportunities and, therefore, unsuitable for use with a lover. Moreover the presence of another person interferes with the mental focus needed to generate sufficient arousal for orgasm.
Women may have misgivings about the nature of their fantasises and consciously avoid masturbating, feeling that it is unhealthy in some way. It is likely that the opposite is true, when we fantasise we release from our minds the subconscious thoughts that are there whether we consciously focus on them or not.
A woman knows that the scenarios that she uses for orgasm would be unpleasant and possibly abusive to her if it were acted out in real life. Having a fantasy about a particular sexual activity does not mean that a person wants to engage in that activity in real life or that they would enjoy such activity in reality. Nor does a fantasy represent an unconscious desire. This is why women are reluctant to tell anyone, even a lover, what they fantasise about. Women may fantasise about rape. But such scenarios are a long way from the real thing. Specifically, the sense of violation, the aggression and hatred are missing. Such fantasies are really no more that the woman releasing herself from the need to take the sexual initiative. She puts herself in the hands of a man who does all the work.
A fantasy involves imagining impossible or improbable things. We can fantasise about anything but we fantasise about positive scenarios that we enjoy. In fantasy a woman can simultaneously imagine herself as both giver and receiver. Women use extremes, such as domination and sadism, to achieve arousal. The fact that BDSM (Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism) can be used for arousal is a reflection of our fascination with the idea of control (of ‘doing something’ to someone else). Aspects of control and domination, as well as the idea of a man negotiating his own pleasure, are core to arousal. BDSM may be useful for arousal but it does not cause orgasm.
Women’s fantasies are surreal because, in the absence of any sex drive, women need to focus on the more indirect consequences for women that arise from men’s sex drive. Using fantasy allows a woman to be the woman but also to identify with the man at the point of orgasm as he thrusts and ejaculates to orgasm. A woman herself is in part the man in the scenario penetrating the woman. Perhaps this ability to superimpose the act of male ejaculation on her own orgasm produces her sense of sexual release.
Once a woman’s mind tunes into an explicit fantasy she can orgasm within less than a minute or two. Fantasies develop in stages. The most critical stage in female masturbation comes right at the beginning. When a woman considers whether her genitals are responding to the possibility of orgasm. She has to assess whether she is capable of orgasm. This involves thinking about possible fantasies.
There is the initial build-up or scene-setting where a woman determines whether her mind is responding to the anticipation of sexual excitement. Women have a very limited menu of fantasies to choose from. This seems to be a result of a natural apathy towards making any effort to find erotic material. A woman may have only a handful of fantasies that she uses on a regular basis, some of which originate from when she first started masturbating.
Reality and fantasy are further apart for women than for men … (Rachel Swift 1999)