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Name: Skye
Gender: Female
Age:
Location:
The reason I am writing is because my boyfriend and I have been together for about a year, and we’ve been having some problems with sex. The problem is that I have difficulty getting to a climax. The problem with this is that my boyfriend feels like he has not accomplished anything if he can’t get me off (which generally nobody is able to do). The only way that I am able to climax is during anal sex and my boyfriend does not want that all the time and has become skittish about doing it at all because of some difficulties with this earlier in the relationship (I am not very experienced).
This issue is starting to drive a wedge between us, and neither of us wants to break up over this. So we are asking for some advice as to what we can do, or what we can try. One thought that I have had is that maybe I am nervous when I’m with other people because while I have difficulty climaxing when I’m with somebody, I have no difficulty at all when I’m alone.
Please give us any advice you can, or point us to somebody who might be able to help us.
~Skye

Ok, let’s take this apart piece by piece, shall we? You’re unable to cum through partnered sex, despite the willingness of your BF to try and please you as much as humanly possible, right? But you are orgasmic; I mean you can cum when you are by yourself, right? This suggests to me that you are suffering from performance anxiety. a150455_xlf

While performance anxiety is mostly talked about in terms of men and their erection problems, they don’t have a monopoly on the annoying issue. It’s an arousal phase concern and we all have an arousal phase regardless of our gender.

I’d be willing to guess that since you say you are not very experienced with sex, you may be creating a level of anxiety that short-circuits your pleasure. Sad to say, this often plagues younger women the most. Young women tend to have less self-esteem. And if they are new to sex, they may not know what they are doing, which can be not only frustrating, but also distracting.

So let me ask you a few questions. First and foremost, what’s going on in your mind when you are having sex with a partner? Are you focused on the pleasure you are giving and receiving? Or are you focused, like so many people on something other than that?

a96261_xlfIf your mind is busy with how you look, or how you smell, or if you are wondering if that birthmark of yours is too obvious. Or if you’re worried about how accomplished you are at performing a particular sex act; then you may have performance anxiety. If you anxious about what your partner thinks of you, if he’s turned on by you, or loves you, or is just bangin’ away at you like a side of beef; then you may have performance anxiety. If you’re afraid to let go and have a screamin’ meme of an orgasm, because it might not look lady-like, or you’re not sure you can trust the person who’s bumpin’ you enough to just relax and enjoy the ride; then you may have performance anxiety.

It also appears from what you say that your BF could also be developing a complex since he’s unable to pleasure you to climax. So let’s see if we can nip this in the bud before it gets to be a full-blown dysfunction.

Many women report that their partnered sex is not as satisfying as their solo sex, because they’re not able to stimulate themselves in the same fashion in partnered sex as they do when they’re jillin’ off. If you are self-conscious about showing your partner the particulars of gettin yourself off, or too intimidated to incorporate a vibrator in your love making, you might not be getting the kind of stimulation you need when you need it. Thus you might be aroused, but not to the point of lettin’ one loose…if ya catch my drift.a6402_xlf

I am also very curious about another thing you mention. You say; “The only way that I am able to climax is during anal sex and my boyfriend does not want that all the time and has become skittish about doing it at all because of some difficulties with this earlier in the relationship.” That’s downright amazing. Butt fuckin’ get you off, but not traditional, cock in cooch, sex? Holy cow! How did you come to be so well acquainted with anal sex when you claim you are not very experienced with sex in general? I’d be very interested in hearing more about that, don’t cha know.

Finally, may I suggest that you and the BF take advantage of Dr Dick’s How To Video Library. It is chock full of swell videos that you guys can watch together. This might be the very thing ya’ll need to break open a conversation about the kind of sex you are having as opposed the kind of sex you both desire.

a168705_xlfA lot of the videos in my library will teach you how to ask for what you need and want. How to shake things up and add some spice to your sex play. You’ll learn new ways of pleasuring one another. And, most importantly, how to relax and enjoy yourselves. Once you guys learn how to effectively communicate with one another about sex, you will have gone a great distance in clearing the air of unnecessary sexual anticipation. You’ll both be able to relax into the event itself and enjoy yourselves more. Here is just a tiny sampling of titles to look for:

Women’s Sexual Satisfaction
Personal Touch: Toying With Pleasure
Nina Hartley’s Guide To Couples Sexploration
Expert Guide To Female Orgasms
Guide To Bondage For Couples

In my How To Video Library you’ll be able to search by stars, like Nina Hartley or Tristan Taormino. You can search by Directors, like Michael Perry or Jamye Waxman. Or you can search by topic, like cunnilingus, toys or anal pleasure. And the best part is that this wealth of information is right there at your fingertips.

Good luck

Solstice Salutations

To greet and celebrate the first day of summer here in the Emerald City…

Look for my new Product Reviews!

REVIEW #9

Lucky Lube — 4 oz Tub — $9.99lucky.jpg

For review purposes the ever-so-sexy Eyal Feldman from BBL LLC sent me three teeny-tiny sample packages of his newest lube, Lucky. It’s a water-based, hypoallergenic, non-staining, female friendly, latex-safe personal lubricant.

What’s so great about Lucky is that Eyal has managed to make a water-based personal lubricant in a creamy form. And that, sex fans, is nothing short of revolutionary.

…full review here


REVIEW #8

Three products have cum my way, so to speak, from the folks at BeAMonStar.com. (They get extra credit for the clever name.) The three products are ExtenZe, XploZion and Sweeten69. Let’s talk about these “supplements” one at a time.

ExtenZe — one week supply — $16.99extenze.jpg

For review purposes, I received a two-week supply (14 capsules) of ExtenZe. The manufacturer claims that: “ExtenZe is a powerful 100% natural male herbal enhancement pill that is safe, effective, and it is made with high quality ingredients known to aid in improving the health of the genital region.”

XploZion — 1 Single Package — $4.99xplozion.jpg

For review purposes I received two packets containing two capsules each of XploZion, which equals two doses. The manufacturer claims that: “XploZion naturally improves the health of body systems that make the male orgasm happen. You’ll begin to notice results within one hour of your first use.

Sweeten69 — 1 Single Package — $4.99sweeten69.jpg

For review purposes I received two packets containing two tablets each of Sweeten69. Which equals four doses. The manufacturer claims that: “Sweeten69 works with your body’s natural processes to improve the way you taste to your partner when you’re getting really close!” (How’s that for a swell euphemism for cocksucking and pussy-lickin’?)

…full reviews here


U. B. Goode

As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge. — Henry van Dyke

Name: Victoria
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: San Diego
I love sex with my boyfriend. It is great but sometimes it can be a real pain. I can’t seam to stay wet for to long even if it feels really good I still tend to dry up. I have tryed lubrication even lotion and it still only helps for a few mins then I dry up again. I can cum but even then after a few I get dry again. It makes it so hard cause my boyfriend tends to think I’m not wet cause he dosen’t please me. When it is not true. He is in fact the best lover I have ever had. Please is there anything I can do to help so I don’t dry up so fast?

Bummer, Victoria, a chronically dry pussy is no fun. First, lets put your boyfriend’s mind to rest.wet_pussy.JPG

Hey Bub, it ain’t you, darlin’. Listen to your woman. You’re pleasing her just fine. The problem resides in her inability to produce sufficient lubrication to make fucking fun and effortless. But lets see if we can get to the bottom of this AACS — Acute Arid Cunt Syndrome — and maybe we’ll find a solution along the way.

Ya know, Victoria, if you’re using the wrong kind of lube for the job it’s gonna dry out, sure as shootin’. And since I don’t know what you are using, I’m gonna employ the scattergun approach. There are several different types of vaginal lubricants available over-the-counter, as well as estrogen-based creams available by prescription. Vaginal lubricants come in tubes, plastic squeezie bottles, and some women swear by the vitamin E vaginal suppositories.

If I had to guess, I’d say you were trying to get the job done by using a water-based lube, right? If that’s the case, I suggest you switch to a Silicon-based lubricant. They don’t dry out as quickly as water-based lubes. They tend to be a bit more expensive. They’re not water-soluble, so clean up can be a bit of a chore. Here’s a tip: you’ll want to avoid using a Silicon-based lube while fucking on the brand new Laura Ashley’s, don’t ‘cha know. But all these minor drawbacks pale in comparison to some mighty fine slippery fucking. Look for Pjur Woman Bodyglide, 100 ml (B305), in Dr Dick Stockroom. Mind as well plug one of my favorite sponsors, right? If that doesn’t work, I’d ask a doctor about an estrogen-based cream.

dry_pussy.jpgBut before we go there, maybe you should be asking yourself what gives with your Acute Arid Cunt Syndrome anyway. Is anything about your lifestyle that contributes to the problem? You know lot of very popular meds interfere with natural vaginal lubrication including:

• Halcion
• Xanax
• Ativan
• Calcium channel blockers
• Beta-blockers
• and especially prescribed and over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.

High levels of stress and depression, as well as a hormone imbalance, can cause vaginal dryness too. If this sounds like you, you can combat some of this by boosting your water intake. If you’re not adequately hydrated — at least ten 8-oz glasses of water a day — kinda hydration, you know you’re gonna have a problem.

Also, many hand and body soaps and a lotta laundry products contain scents and other chemicals that will irritate the delicate mucosal tissues that line your pussy.

A healthy diet and proper exercise is also important to maintaining a healthy level of natural lubrication. Ya know those low-fat, high-carb diets many women are on these days? Well, they literally starve your body of the nutrients it needs to make sex hormones. For example, the estrogen needed for vaginal lubrication is made from cholesterol, something women on low-fat diets are woefully lacking.

Name: LARRY
Gender:
Age: 23
Location: MYRTLE BEACH SC
WHERE DOES SEMEN COME FROM? THAT IS TO SAY WHAT ORGAN (ORGANS) MAKE IT AND WHERE IS IT STORED. WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENS AT CLIMAX? IF YOU CLIMAX WITHOUT CUMING IS THAT SOMETHING THAT SHOULD CONCERN ME

Semen is the technical name for male ejaculate. However, we here at Dr Dick’s Sex Advice like to refer to this man juice as spooge, spunk, jizz or cum. Semen contains sperm, of course, which is produced in your testicles. It also contains a complex “soup” called seminal fluid, which is produced by various sex glands in your body. But, despite its complexity, baby batter is 90% water.

Your most important sex glands, the seminal vesicles, produce 70% of your joy juice. This seminal fluid iscum_shot99.JPG viscous and alkaline. The alkaline quality is very important because it neutralizes the acidic environment of your urethra and a woman’s vagina, which would otherwise kill all your little sperm-letts or at least make them inactive. And what good is inactive sperm?

Seminal fluid also contains a simple sugar, which provides the energy your seed needs to survive and wriggle about like crazy. Oh and precum. the stuff that often drizzles from your man meat while you’re being aroused, comes from the Cowper’s gland, and it too paves the way for a healthy ride for your delicate spermatozoa.

About 25% of the volume of your spooge comes from your prostate gland. This gives your spunk its milky appearance. Your prostate also adds substances, which increase the survival rate of your baby seeds.

On average, a man ejaculates between 2.5 and 5 ml of jizz per wad, which contains about 50 – 150 million sperm per milliliter. Just think of that next time you shoot your business into that dirty sock at the side of your bed. And here’s another thing, if a dude’s sperm count falls below 20 million per milliliter, he’s likely to be infertile, or as we like to call it — shootin’ blanks.

The amount of goop a guy gushes varies greatly, and has lots to do with how long his arousal period lasts before he shoots. Ya see, the longer the arousal period the more time there is for your fluids to build up. That’s why Dr Dick always suggests a nice long foreplay session. The greater the build up of spooge, the more powerful your ejaculatory contractions will be. Which, in turn, makes for a more intense orgasm.

You will notice that I am going out of my way to separate the two events — ejaculation and orgasm. For a most guys they happen simultaneously. But for the lucky few, and those who practice the art of tantra, multiple orgasms are possible before the ejaculation.

crreampie1.jpgYou’ll notice your spunk tends to be sticky and thick right after you blow your load. But soon there after it begins to separate and become more runny. This is pretty normal. It is also normal for the color and texture of your jizz to vary from time to time. Sometimes it can be real milky, sometime it’s clearer with only streaks of milkiness in it. It can also contain gelatinous globules from time to time. A lot of this has to do with how hydrated you are, how many times you’ve cum recently and of course your age. Spooge production diminishes as we age.

Each ejaculation is actually a collection of spurts that send waves of pleasure throughout your body, but especially in your cock and groin area. The first and second convulsions are usually the most intense, and propel the greatest quantity of jizz. Each following muscle contraction is associated with a diminishing volume of cum and a milder wave of pleasure.

Most of us men folk can’t resist increasing manual or thrusting stimulation when we get to the point of ejaculatory inevitably. Which is too bad, because if we practiced some simple edging techniques — that is coming right up to the point of shooting, but then halting direct cock stimulation till the urge to pop subsides — our pleasure would increase. We’d last longer and our expected orgasm would be more powerful.

The typical male orgasm lasts about 17 seconds but can vary from a few seconds up to about a full minute. A typical ejaculation consists of 10 to 15 contractions.cum_drip.jpg

I know that I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating here. A recent Australian study has suggests that frequent masturbation, particularly as a young man, appears to reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life.

If you’re chokin’ the chicken a lot your sperm count will be low and the amount of jizz you produce will be less. But also age, testosterone level, nutrition and especially hydration play a big part in that too. Just remember, a low sperm count, is not the same thing as a diminished volume of cum.

When a guy blows his wad before he wants to, it’s called premature ejaculation. If a man is unable to ejaculate when he want to, even after prolonged stimulation, it is called delayed ejaculation, retarded ejaculation or anorgasmia.

An orgasm that is not accompanied by ejaculation is known as a dry orgasm. And that may or may not have anything to do with semen production, because some men ejaculate into their bladder, and that, my friend, is called a retrograde ejaculation.

Name: Ernie
Gender:
Age: 50
Location: Atlanta
I love to taste cum. However sometimes it is quite bitter. I’ve worried that it’s because someone is taking medicine that comes through in the semen. Am I at risk swallowing some cum if the guy is on heart medication or other meds?

Well, darlin’, like I always say, we are what we eat…or in this case…what we consume.

facial006.jpegAbsolutely, you can be assured that there are trace amounts of unmetabolized drugs — pharmaceutical as well as recreational — in cum. This is not as much of a concern for jizz lappers, like you, as it is for piss guzzlers. But you oughtn’t fool yourself into thinking there will be no residue.

Here are some fun spooge facts. It’s protein, baby! And It contains only about 12 to 15 calories per cum shot. That’s same amount found in an egg white.

Alcohol, drugs and nicotine will make a guy’s spooge bitter. If you want your spooge to be sweet tasting, void junk foods and have lots of fruits and greens in your diet instead. Fruit juices like pineapple, citrus, and cranberry are also known to make cum taste sweeter. The higher the sugar content; melon, mango, apple, or grape, the sweeter the spooge. Likewise, vegetables like parsley and celery are also recommended. And just so you know, consumption of these things, even 20 minutes before a blow job can effect the taste of the cum produced.

— — And ya know what? The same is true for effecting the taste of pussy juice. How sweet is that? — —

Avoid fish and red meat, they produce a bitter, fishy taste because of their alkaline content. Chemically-processed alcohol can also make your joy juice taste bitter. Naturally fermented drinks are less likely to do so. Garlic and onion are likely to produce strong odors in your spunk since they are high in sulfur; so lay off these. And of course, asparagus is to be avoided pre-blowjob too.

Good luck ya’ll

The Joys of Muff Diving

Name: Carol
Gender: Female
Age: 28
Location: Montreal
I like oral sex, but my new BF doesn’t know what he’s doing down there. He’s really sweet and I like him a lot. Unfortunately, he thinks he’s like this really great lover when actually he sucks…and not in a good way. I know he reads your column, he was the one that turned me on to your site, so could you give him some pointers on how to orally pleasure a woman. He doesn’t listen to me.

keep-calm

Alrighty then, Carol! Instead of me, who has no pussy, pontificating on the joys of muff diving, I turned to my #1 friend of the lesbian persuasion, Joy. Not only does she have her very own pussy, she sure as shootin’ knows her way around other pussies as well. I shared your letter with her and asked her for her advice. I figure, if you wanna learn how to do something right, ya talk to a pro. Simply put, no one sucks cock as good as a homo; no one gobbles clam like a dyke. Enough said!

Joy’s first comment was…and I quote; “What’s this chick doin’ with a dude? If she wants good head, he should bed a dyke. Once you go lezzie, you never go back.” Ahhh, Joy is such a…joy!

Ok, so giving a chick some head is about the most perfect sexual thing you can do for a woman. It makes her feel special. What woman doesn’t groove on knowin’ her partner finds her finger-lickin’ good? And maybe that’s a real good place to start this tutorial. If you don’t like the taste or smell of pussy juice, give up on the idea that you’ll be a fabulous lover. However, if you want to give this whole eating out at the Y thing a try, but you don’t know if you can handle your partner smell, or she’s unsure about you bein’ down there, thinking she might smell, you guys could start off by showering or bathing together.

Many women prefer oral to intercourse, because it has the potential to give her an exceptional orgasm. And for all those gals out there who need loads direct clitoral work to get off, mouth-to-clit stimulation is one of the easiest, most enjoyable ways to get make that happen.

Joy says that the biggest mistake a guy can make with a pussy is divin’ in without knowing his way around. And like I always say, ladies, it is absolutely up to you to introduce your partner to your particular beaver. Remember, just because he might have been with other women, don’t make him an expert on your parts. Get it? Got it? GOOD!

muff2The novice cunt lapper will do well to approach this amazing piece of human anatomy very gently…at first. If the woman you’re eatin’ wants it more vigorous, she will ask for it. So relax and enjoy! If all this licking and sucking isn’t a turn on for you, it won’t be much of a pleasure for her, either. So, if you’re heart is not in it; don’t bother.

Don’t make the mistake that Carol’s boyfriend makes. Listen to the feedback you’re gettin on the job you’re doin’. If you’re not gettin feedback, ask for it. Just don’t talk with your mouth full. Once you hit on something that works with the gal you’re with, stick with it for a while. Unless of course you’re trying to drive her wild with some tongue teasing.

Joy insists that a soft tongue and a relaxed jaw works best. And holy cow, she knows of what she speaks. She always starts out licking her pal from vaginal entrance up to her clit. She follows the outer edges of her pal’s pussy along both sides —s lowly at first, then more rapidly. Sometimes she’ll even throw in a little raspberries. You know, the vibrating sound you make when you force breath through lightly closed lips. Joy stands by this technique, don’t cha know! Sounds like so much fun I kinda wish I had me a cooch.

Don’t be caught with idle hands while you’re eating out at the Y. Gently press the two outer vaginal lips together then run your tongue between the inner and outer labia one side at a time. Try poking your tongue into her vagina. The extent of the nerve endings for the typical woman’s vagina are around the opening and within the first couple of inches inside. Target them with a darting tongue motion. Insert a hardened tongue into her hole. Try moving your tongue in and out, as well as in circles around the inside of her opening.

Spread her outer vaginal lips with your fingers. With your tongue pointed, gently flick your tongue around her clit. Feel free to roam around in there, but keep coming back to her clit, because it’s the most sensitive area…just like your dick head, you dickhead! Some women find the direct approach too intense. If this is the case with your woman, blow a stream of warm breath over and around the clit. This lighter breathy touch might just do the trick. Again, be sure to ask for feedback and then do precisely what she says.

Once your partner is good and hot and juicy wet, Joy suggests you kick things up a notch. Spread her lips, expose her clit and give it a quick little suck. If this hits the spot, you might want to lightly pull back her clitoral hood and repeat the quick sucking motion. Joy assures me that this feels incredible, and it’s just the thing to do if you feel like tormenting your partner. Now take her exposed clit into your mouth and gently suck on it, simultaneously flicking your tongue over and around it. This combined with fingering her vag, will usually produce an intense orgasm.

Keep your tongue and hands busy flicking and massaging, poking and prodding lapping and kneading. In other words, find out what she likes and how she likes it and let her have it just that way.

Finally, Joy suggests you surprise the little woman by having a mint or an ice chip in your mouth while you eat her out. These can create a very intense tingling sensation and will enhance your performance immeasurably.

Good luck

A handy history

Condemned, celebrated, shunned: masturbation has long been an uncomfortable fact of life. Why?

by Barry Reay

A handy history

The anonymous author of the pamphlet Onania (1716) was very worried about masturbation. The ‘shameful vice’, the ‘solitary act of pleasure’, was something too terrible to even be described. The writer agreed with those ‘who are of the opinion, that… it never ought to be spoken of, or hinted at, because the bare mentioning of it may be dangerous to some’. There was, however, little reticence in cataloguing ‘the frightful consequences of self-pollution’. Gonorrhoea, fits, epilepsy, consumption, impotence, headaches, weakness of intellect, backache, pimples, blisters, glandular swelling, trembling, dizziness, heart palpitations, urinary discharge, ‘wandering pains’, and incontinence – were all attributed to the scourge of onanism.

The fear was not confined to men. The full title of the pamphlet was Onania: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences (in Both Sexes). Its author was aware that the sin of Onan referred to the spilling of male seed (and divine retribution for the act) but reiterated that he treated ‘of this crime in relation to women as well as men’. ‘[W]hilst the offence is Self-Pollution in both, I could not think of any other word which would so well put the reader in mind both of the sin and its punishment’. Women who indulged could expect disease of the womb, hysteria, infertility and deflowering (the loss of ‘that valuable badge of their chastity and innocence’).

Another bestselling pamphlet was published later in the century: L’onanisme (1760) by Samuel Auguste Tissot. He was critical of Onania, ‘a real chaos … all the author’s reflections are nothing but theological and moral puerilities’, but nevertheless listed ‘the ills of which the English patients complain’. Tissot was likewise fixated on ‘the physical disorders produced by masturbation’, and provided his own case study, a watchmaker who had self-pleasured himself into ‘insensibility’ on a daily basis, sometimes three times a day; ‘I found a being that less resembled a living creature than a corpse, lying upon straw, meagre, pale, and filthy, casting forth an infectious stench; almost incapable of motion.’ The fear these pamphlets promoted soon spread.

The strange thing is that masturbation was never before the object of such horror. In ancient times, masturbation was either not much mentioned or treated as something a little vulgar, not in good taste, a bad joke. In the Middle Ages and for much of the early modern period too, masturbation, while sinful and unnatural, was not invested with such significance. What changed?

Religion and medicine combined powerfully to create a new and hostile discourse. The idea that the soul was present in semen led to thinking that it was very important to retain the vital fluid. Its spilling became, then, both immoral and dangerous (medicine believed in female semen at the time). ‘Sin, vice, and self-destruction’ were the ‘trinity of ideas’ that would dominate from the 18th into the 19th century, as the historians Jean Stengers and Anne Van Neck put it in Masturbation: The Great Terror (2001).

There were exceptions. Sometimes masturbation was opposed for more ‘enlightened’ reasons. In the 1830s and 1840s, for instance, female moral campaign societies in the United States condemned masturbation, not out of hostility to sex, but as a means to self-control. What would now be termed ‘greater sexual agency’ – the historian April Haynes refers to ‘sexual virtue’ and ‘virtuous restraint’ – was central to their message.

Yet it is difficult to escape the intensity of the fear. J H Kellogg’s Plain Facts for Old and Young (1877) contained both exaggerated horror stories and grand claims: ‘neither the plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of Onanism; it is the destroying element of civilised societies’. Kellogg suggested remedies for the scourge, such as exercise, strict bathing and sleeping regimes, compresses, douching, enemas and electrical treatment. Diet was vital: this rabid anti-masturbator was co-inventor of the breakfast cereal that still bears his name. ‘Few of today’s eaters of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes know that he invented them, almost literally, as anti-masturbation food,’ as the psychologist John Money once pointed out.

The traces are still with us in other ways. Male circumcision, for instance, originated in part with the 19th-century obsession with the role of the foreskin in encouraging masturbatory practices. Consciously or not, many US males are faced with this bodily reminder every time they masturbate. And the general disquiet unleashed in the 18th century similarly lingers on today. We seem to have a confusing and conflicting relationship with masturbation. On one hand it is accepted, even celebrated – on the other, there remains an unmistakable element of taboo.

When the sociologist Anthony Giddens in The Transformation of Intimacy (1992) attempted to identify what made modern sex modern, one of the characteristics he identified was the acceptance of masturbation. It was, as he said, masturbation’s ‘coming out’. Now it was ‘widely recommended as a major source of sexual pleasure, and actively encouraged as a mode of improving sexual responsiveness on the part of both sexes’. It had indeed come to signify female sexual freedom with Betty Dodson’s Liberating Masturbation (1974) (renamed and republished as Sex for One in 1996), which has sold more than a million copies, and her Bodysex Workshops in Manhattan with their ‘all-women masturbation circles’. The Boston Women’s Health Collective’s classic feminist text Our Bodies, Ourselves (1973) included a section called ‘Learning to Masturbate’.

Alfred Kinsey and his team are mainly remembered for the sex surveys that publicised the pervasiveness of same-sex desires and experiences in the US, but they also recognised the prevalence of masturbation. It was, for both men and women, one of the nation’s principal sexual outlets. In the US National Survey (2009–10), 94 per cent of men aged 25-29 and 85 per cent of women in the same age group said that they had masturbated alone in the course of their lifetime. (All surveys indicate lower reported rates for women.) In the just-published results of the 2012 US National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 92 per cent of straight men and a full 100 per cent of gay men recorded lifetime masturbation.

There has certainly been little silence about the activity. Several generations of German university students were questioned by a Hamburg research team about their masturbatory habits to chart changing attitudes and practices from 1966 to 1996; their results were published in 2003. Did they reach orgasm? Were they sexually satisfied? Was it fun? In another study, US women were contacted on Craigslist and asked about their masturbatory experiences, including clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration. An older, somewhat self-referential study from 1977 of sexual arousal to films of masturbation asked psychology students at the University of Connecticut to report their ‘genital sensations’ while watching those films. Erection? Ejaculation? Breast sensations? Vaginal lubrication? Orgasm? And doctors have written up studies of the failed experiments of unfortunate patients: ‘Masturbation Injury Resulting from Intraurethral Introduction of Spaghetti’ (1986); ‘Penile Incarceration Secondary to Masturbation with A Steel Pipe’ (2013), with illustrations.

‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level’

Self-stimulation has been employed in sexual research, though not always to great import. Kinsey and his team wanted to measure how far, if at all, semen was projected during ejaculation: Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, Kinsey’s biographer, refers to queues of men in Greenwich Village waiting to be filmed at $3 an ejaculation. William Masters and Virginia Johnson recorded and measured the physiological response during sexual arousal, using new technology, including a miniature camera inside a plastic phallus. Their book Human Sexual Response (1966) was based on data from more than 10,000 orgasms from nearly 700 volunteers: laboratory research involving sexual intercourse, stimulation, and masturbation by hand and with that transparent phallus. Learned journals have produced findings such as ‘Orgasm in Women in the Laboratory – Quantitative Studies on Duration, Intensity, Latency, and Vaginal Blood Flow’ (1985).

In therapy, too, masturbation has found its place ‘as a means of achieving sexual health’, as an article by Eli Coleman, the director of the programme in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, once put it. A published study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1977 outlined therapist-supervised female masturbation (with dildo, vibrator and ‘organic vegetables’) as a way of encouraging vaginal orgasm. Then there is The Big Book of Masturbation (2003) and the hundreds of (pun intended) self-help books, Masturbation for Weight Loss, a Womans Guide only among the latest (and more opportunistic).

Self-pleasure has featured in literature, most famously in Philip Roth’s novel Portnoys Complaint (1969). But it is there in more recent writing too, including Chuck Palahniuk’s disturbing short story ‘Guts’ (2004). Autoeroticism (and its traces) have been showcased in artistic expression: in Jordan MacKenzie’s sperm and charcoal canvases (2007), for example, or in Marina Abramović’s reprise of Vito Acconci’s Seedbed at the Guggenheim in 2005, or her video art Balkan Erotic Epic of the same year.

On film and television, masturbation is similarly pervasive: Lauren Rosewarne’s Masturbation in Pop Culture (2014) was able to draw on more than 600 such scenes. My favourites are in the film Spanking the Monkey (1994), in which the main character is trying to masturbate in the bathroom, while the family dog, seemingly alert to such behaviour, pants and whines at the door; and in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Contest’ (1992), in which the ‘m’ word is never uttered, and where George’s mother tells her adult son that he is ‘treating his body like it was an amusement park’.

There is much evidence, then, for what the film scholar Greg Tuck in 2009 called the ‘mainstreaming of masturbation’: ‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level.’ There are politically-conscious masturbation websites. There is the online ‘Masturbation Hall of Fame’ (sponsored by the sex-toys franchise Good Vibrations). There are masturbationathons, and jack-off-clubs, and masturbation parties.

It would be a mistake, however, to present a rigid contrast between past condemnation and present acceptance. There are continuities. Autoeroticism might be mainstreamed but that does not mean it is totally accepted. In Sexual Investigations (1996), the philosopher Alan Soble observed that people brag about casual sex and infidelities but remain silent about solitary sex. Anne-Francis Watson and Alan McKee’s 2013 study of 14- to 16-year-old Australians found that not only the participants but also their families and teachers were more comfortable talking about almost any other sexual matter than about self-pleasuring. It ‘remains an activity that is viewed as shameful and problematic’, warns the entry on masturbation in the Encyclopedia of Adolescence (2011). In a study of the sexuality of students in a western US university, where they were asked about sexual orientation, anal and vaginal sex, condom use, and masturbation, it was the last topic that occasioned reservation: 28 per cent of the participants ‘declined to answer the masturbation questions’. Masturbation remains, to some extent, taboo.

When the subject is mentioned, it is often as an object of laughter or ridicule. Rosewarne, the dogged viewer of the 600 masturbation scenes in film and TV, concluded that male masturbation was almost invariably portrayed negatively (female masturbation was mostly erotic). Watson and McKee’s study revealed that their young Australians knew that masturbation was normal yet still made ‘negative or ambivalent statements’ about it.

Belief in the evils of masturbation has resurfaced in the figure of the sex addict and in the obsession with the impact of internet pornography. Throughout their relatively short histories, sexual addiction and hypersexual disorder have included masturbation as one of the primary symptoms of their purported maladies. What, in a sex-positive environment, would be considered normal sexual behaviour has been pathologised in another. Of the 152 patients in treatment for hypersexual disorder in clinics in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah, a 2012 study showed that most characterised their sexual disorder in terms of pornography consumption (81 per cent) and masturbation (78 per cent). The New Catholic Encyclopedia’s supplement on masturbation (2012-13), too, slips into a lengthy disquisition on sex addiction and the evils of internet pornography: ‘The availability of internet pornography has markedly increased the practice of masturbation to the degree that it can be appropriately referred to as an epidemic.’

Critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce sexual selfishness rather than sexual empathy and sharing

The masturbator is often seen as the pornography-consumer and sex addict enslaved by masturbation. The sociologist Steve Garlick has suggested that negative attitudes to masturbation have been reconstituted to ‘surreptitiously infect ideas about pornography’. Pornography has become masturbation’s metonym. Significantly, when the New Zealand politician Shane Jones was exposed for using his taxpayer-funded credit card to view pornographic movies, the unnamed shame was that his self-pleasuring activities were proclaimed on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers – thus the jokes about ‘the matter in hand’ and not shaking hands with him at early morning meetings. It would have been less humiliating, one assumes, if he had used the public purse to finance the services of sex workers.

Nor is there consensus on the benefits of masturbation. Despite its continued use in therapy, some therapists question its usefulness and propriety. ‘It is a mystery to me how conversational psychotherapy has made the sudden transition to massage parlour technology involving vibrators, mirrors, surrogates, and now even carrots and cucumbers!’ one psychologist protested in the late 1970s. He was concerned about issues of client-patient power and a blinkered pursuit of the sexual climax ‘ignoring … the more profound psychological implications of the procedure’. In terms of effectiveness, critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce individual pleasure and sexual selfishness rather than creating sexual empathy and sharing. As one observed in the pages of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 1995: ‘Ironically, the argument against masturbation in American society was originally religiously founded, but may re-emerge as a humanist argument.’ Oversimplified, but in essence right: people remain disturbed by the solitariness of solitary sex.

Why has what the Japanese charmingly call ‘self-play’ become such a forcing ground for sexual attitudes? Perhaps there is something about masturbation’s uncontrollability that continues to make people anxious. It is perversely non-procreative, incestuous, adulterous, homosexual, ‘often pederastic’ and, in imagination at least, sex with ‘every man, woman, or beast to whom I take a fancy’, to quote Soble. For the ever-astute historian Thomas Laqueur, author of Solitary Sex (2003), masturbation is ‘that part of human sexual life where potentially unlimited pleasure meets social restraint’.

Why did masturbation become such a problem? For Laqueur, it began with developments in 18th-century Europe, with the cultural rise of the imagination in the arts, the seemingly unbounded future of commerce, the role of print culture, the rise of private, silent reading, especially novels, and the democratic ingredients of this transformation. Masturbation’s condemned tendencies – solitariness, excessive desire, limitless imagination, and equal-opportunity pleasure – were an outer limit or testing of these valued attributes, ‘a kind of Satan to the glories of bourgeois civilisation’.

In more pleasure-conscious modern times, the balance has tipped towards personal gratification. The acceptance of personal autonomy, sexual liberation and sexual consumerism, together with a widespread focus on addiction, and the ubiquity of the internet, now seem to demand their own demon. Fears of unrestrained fantasy and endless indulging of the self remain. Onania’s 18th-century complaints about the lack of restraint of solitary sex are not, in the end, all that far away from today’s fear of boundless, ungovernable, unquenchable pleasure in the self.

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