Beliefs about women’s supposed orgasms with a lover are based on a mix of anatomy and stimulation techniques that men provide. Achieving orgasm depends on being able to stimulate the sex organ continuously. Kinsey concluded that masturbation was not only the quickest way for a woman to orgasm (4 minutes on average) but also the most reliable way (95% success rate). Women’s masturbatory activities provided the clearest evidence for female orgasm. Kinsey found that 20% of women masturbated regularly. Women clearly mistake emotional sensations for orgasm with a lover. So his work indicates that around 20% of women may be capable of orgasm.
But the percentage of women who do truly orgasm is likely to be much lower than this in the general population. Women are under such pressure to have orgasms that they also assume mistakenly that they orgasm from masturbation. He found that two out of every five women (42%) never masturbate while a similar number (38%) try masturbation but are not motivated to continue. Kinsey’s sample included university educated women who are likely to read more and be more imaginative than average. This may increase the likelihood that they discover orgasm (if they are responsive). Kinsey remarked on the taboo over masturbation among the less educated.
Research inevitably involves women who are confident enough to come forward and talk about sex and orgasm. The silence of women in the general population over sex suggests that female masturbation is much less common than this. Reading Shere Hite’s book is a tremendous relief to any woman who masturbates. Her work is the only evidence that women orgasm easily alone but that they cannot achieve the same thing with a lover. The fact that her book is largely unknown is clear evidence that few women masturbate.
Shere Hite listed a variety of positions that women reported using during masturbation. Only 5% of the women in her sample who masturbated, did so by lying on their front. This means that the rest (the vast majority) were not actually achieving orgasm. Kinsey noted the technique of lying face down and thrusting with the hips, which only related to a few of the women who said that they masturbated. Kinsey also commented that many women do not use fantasy. Clearly many women are not masturbating to orgasm.
Even without mentioning sex directly, there are signs that indicate a person’s attitude towards eroticism. Most women ignore or are offended by sexual references, which is a sign that they are not receptive to discussing orgasm. Women can be strong in their condemnation of explicitly sexual activity. Many women simply do not understand why anyone would masturbate. Neither men nor women appear to be aware of the fact that before anyone can orgasm they must first be aroused. Men’s arousal is fairly automatic but women have to work much harder at generating their arousal consciously. Most women react with self-righteous disgust if masturbation, genitals or fantasies are mentioned. A responsive woman is inevitably alienated by such attitudes. Female masturbation is so rare that she has no one to compare notes with. Other women react negatively to any mention of the clitoris and fantasies. Men also avoid referring to masturbation for the same reason.
Most women dislike explicit references to genitals and so they say ‘front bottom’ or ‘down there’ by which they mean anywhere between their clitoris and their anus. Most women consider the clitoris to be too sexually explicit for a heterosexual woman. Orgasm is associated with women (because male orgasm is so automatic). Both the clitoris and the word orgasm are taboo, being associated with porn more than with women’s own sexual pleasure.
From the universal silence and ignorance over female orgasm, we can conclude that female masturbation and hence female orgasm are rare. Women allow men to portray their sexual responsiveness in completely unrealistic ways without ever commenting. Most women have little confidence in their own experiences so they accept all the fictional accounts as possibilities for other women if not for themselves. Few women even know that they have a clitoris, let alone know what to do with it. Men explore the female body as they always have done. Armed with the latest news of the clitoris men convince themselves that, as a new breed of male lover, they provide women with amazing pleasure for the first time in human history.
Some men feel threatened by women’s success with masturbation alone. They may conclude that by having orgasms alone a woman is less likely to orgasm with a lover. This is not the case. Women are just not aroused with a lover. The surgical removal of a girl’s clitoris (grossly misnamed female circumcision) certainly ensures that she will never discover masturbation. This practise, which is accepted by women, indicates the rarity of female masturbation and therefore of female orgasm. Female circumcision is clear evidence that clitoral stimulation does not cause orgasm with a lover. Men would never eliminate a means of women having an orgasm with them.
Women never comment on the different stimulation techniques and anatomy that are supposed to cause female orgasm. If women knew how to masturbate themselves to orgasm, then more women would realise that intercourse does not cause female orgasm. Also their lovers would realise. Clitoral stimulation is associated with lesbians who cannot engage in intercourse and so tend to engage in more explicit genitally focused sex play.
Also because of its small size and the limited protrusion of the clitoris, many males do not understand that it may be as important a center for stimulation for females as the penis is for males. (Alfred Kinsey 1953)