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Real Talk: Ménage à moi

I love a good wank. There. I said it. I know I am not alone. In the last few years I have spoken more openly about this topic, and it’s great to know that there are lots of lasses out there doing it daily, nightly and ever so rightly. These conversations have helped open me up more and more to the joys of giving yourself a very necessary gift – sexual pleasure. They’ve also made me increasingly aware of the complex narratives and feelings around female sexuality. Especially when that sexuality doesn’t involve an active male participant, or a partner of any kind. In mainstream movies female masturbation is often portrayed as a steamy self-seduction. In porn it is usually (often unwittingly) seen through the male gaze, as though done for an audience, rather than oneself. It’s usually in a similar setting, and almost always in the same post (one that is accessible for the voyeur) and most of the time it really doesn’t in any way represent the reality of female masturbation. So today I’m departing from my usual content, and I am just going to have a little chat about masturbation. Expect a bit of my masturbatory history, a few musings (hopefully some humorous ones), and some toy recommendations. 

*I found a list of 21 euphemisms online, that I am going to attempt to pepper throughout this post, because I am so bored of writing 'female masturbation'*

I’m not sure that my experience with paddling the pink canoe mirrors that of many of my peers. I grew up in a conservative country, where female sexuality was very much repressed and represented in extremely narrow terms. However, even with the freedom of living in the UK and the comparatively liberal sexual culture here, I still think that female masturbation just isn’t something we talk about very often. 

South Africans (white ones in particular – I can only speak from my own experience here) have a complex moral relationship with sex and sexuality. When I was growing up sex before marriage was frowned upon and rarely spoken about in 'polite' company, and casual sex for women was seen as morally repugnant. In fact I was more than a little startled when I moved to the UK to see just how freely women spoke about their sexual conquests. And it took me a while to get used to people discussing sex, especially one night stands and the like, in such a cavalier manner.

In high school I had two really close girlfriends, and we shared everything. And I mean everything! Despite the fact that no one else I knew seemed to be talking about it, we sometimes discussed finger painting in whispered tones late at night during sleep overs. I tended to be pretty ill informed in these discussions – I had tried a couple of times, but really couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t seem to make myself have the same strange, flushed feelings I had when making out with a boy I liked (even if he was clumsily fiddling with my bra, and making my boobs feel like they were being milked rather than fondled). While one of my friends was frantically rubbing one out every night, the other two of us had experimented a bit, but that need just wasn't there yet. Cosmo (urg, insert eyeroll) occasionally mentioned the art of visiting the safety deposit box in rather wishy washy, girl power terms (nothing so helpful as a diagram or a how to, just saying that this new Sex and the City generation should be double clicking their own mouse) but at 14 I was more interested in reading, gossiping and watching Dawson's Creek than I was in furtively auditioning the finger puppets. Despite the certain amount of shame associated with fanning the fur in my culture (it was always discussed in awed terms, in the same breath as nymphomania) this early exposure left me feeling like I had a low libido and an unadventurous nature. Even the (comparatively waaaay more progressive) magazines I ordered from the UK, Bliss and J17, that were talking about all sorts of issues we weren't discussing in SA, were not talking about dialling the rotary phone. I just had no yard stick for what was "normal". 

At uni, despite having a really tight knit group of girlfriends, the big M just wasn't something we talked about. For a lot of girls the shadow of conservative families and religious upbringings meant diddling Miss Daisy was something they saw as shameful and wrong. One friend of mine, by far one of the most open minded people I knew at that time, told me point blank that she wasn't judging anyone else but the thought of doing it might her feel really gross and uncomfortable. She felt like it was wrong and she would never try it. I struggle to believe she kept that promise long term, but how can anyone have such strong negative feelings about something so right? A lot of the women I knew were having a lot of casual sex (more power to them!) but late night heart to hearts revealed it was pretty unsatisfying. Probably because they had no idea what they needed to get them off! 

And so in my third year of university I discovered the absolute joy of self-pleasure! Jesus, I was insatiable. It's an absolute miracle I didn't end up with carpel tunnel. I rubbed that poor thing raw! Late at night, a pillow over my face lest anyone hear my stifled moans, I figured out a hundred ways to give myself an orgasm. But despite my comparatively liberal upbringing and generally open minded outlook, I felt so guilty. I felt a real sense of shame. A burning shame that took me a long time to shake off. And I think it’s just because at this point I thought I was the only one who had these urges and gave in to them this often. Whether I was sexually active with a partner or not, I was still going for it regularly. 

It truly confounds me that this part of life and sexuality is still so profoundly caught up with this ridiculous sense of scandal. Buttering your muffin is such a healthy expression of sexuality, and all jokes aside - self-love. And having been single for the majority of my adult life, by shaming masturbation we are essentially saying that anyone without a regular partner or partners shouldn't have sexual impulses, and if they do they certainly shouldn't satisfy them. To this day, I have friends who say when they are in a relationship they have no need for visiting the bat cave because all their sexual needs are being met. I mean, that’s great. But for me sex and making myself come can be seen as two quite separate things. Sure there are times when you just need to scratch that itch, but really masturbation is about being connected to my own body and fulfilling my own needs and looking after myself. 

In my early twenties there seemed to be this aura of romance and seduction around DIY time (which I think still exists today) - the idea that a woman couldn't get herself off unless she had run herself a bath full of bubbles and had enough candles burning that her pussy being on fire should really have been the least of her worries. Now I am no stranger to a good old fap in the bath, but really? I am sure there are women who need a bit of ritual to get themselves into the right headspace for pleasure - and, no shade hunty, you do you! But is this honestly how every woman gets herself off, every time? Popular cultural largely neglected to represent any other kind of wank - where are the 'just to help get myself off to sleep' wanks? The 'bored on a Sunday afternoon' fiddles? Or the 'anxiety busting' fondles? (Nothing dispatches my anxiety faster than a big orgasm - little tip there for my fellow over thinkers. Rub one out and have a nice little nap - you'll feel better after I promise.) Why are we so set on selling getting lost in the deep end as being high maintenance? (I'm guessing it's because men mostly wrote those scenes, and they're imagining that if we expect a bit of romance from them before we let them into our panties, we're the same with our own hands - not so sir!)

Moving on! My early forays were shame fuelled, but exciting. Do you remember that early realisation of just how thrilling a self-inflicted orgasm could be? Knowing that you had the power to make your brain go blank, and your body hot and cold, and little stars pop behind your eyelids, all by rubbing one spot over and over. I quickly became incredibly dexterous, and other than a few self-inflicted injuries (cramp, god damn you!) I would have been happy to spend the rest of my life just using my fingers. I've heard many tales of cucumbers, hair brushes, deodorant cans (teenagers are so fabulously deviant and resourceful) and even school shoes used to get off, but I was generally pretty unadventurous in that arena. All I needed was a finger or two and I was good to go. 

And so I came to the world of sex toys late. In some ways because I didn’t need them – I was doing just fine by myself – but also because buying sex toys in South Africa is harder and scarier than buying hard drugs. Not even kidding. I'd bought and done coke before owning a vibrator - for real. Now I haven’t lived there for the last 9 years so maybe (hopefully) this has changed. But when I lived there vibrators were sold in sex shops. Sex shops were always in the sketchiest part of town, always had blacked out windows, with giant red sign writing that said things like “Adult World” and “Luvland”. There also always seemed to be a massive open expanse between the parking and the shop. Meaning that it was quite clear to anyone driving past exactly where you were headed. And they certainly weren’t geared towards their female clientele. No soft lighting and pink fluff here. I never made it inside one. Rumour has it they were usually lit with fluorescent strip lighting, sticky and seedy as fuck, with everyone attempting to not make eye contact and most of the interesting stuff kept in glass cabinets, so you had to ask an awkward spotty virgin if you wanted to have a proper look at anything. Needless to say I was absolutely equal parts thrilled and scandalised when I learnt of Anne Summers. Do you English girls have any idea how incredibly lucky you were to have had a safe, female friendly environment to shop for all your toys? You can pop in there, pretend to look at the marabou trimmed teddies for a minute and be up to your eyeballs in dildos and butt plugs in no time! 

And so, at the not so tender age of 27 I bought my first vibrating dildo. God did I feel racy. What a sexual pioneer! I figured a dildo was the way to go, because in movies that always seems like the toy de jour and what did I know! I have to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed. My little see-through pink vibe looked hella cute, but somehow wasn’t what I needed. I started researching, and discovered there was a whole world of toys and treats available, and halleloo! most of them were just a click away. Man do I love the internet. 

And so, from the fabulous freedom of the internet, Lovehoney brought me my next solo sexual surprise. In the rather cumbersome form of the Magic Wand Vibrator. This hefty beauty changed my life. It’s not small, and it’s not discreet. But oh my god. It works. Every. Single. Time. And with barely any effort too. It’s earth shattering. Initially designed as a body massager (yeah, whatever) the Magic Wand has a large domed head and flexible neck that emits vibrations that vary from delicate flutters to a seriously powerful, almost too much to take buzz. The vibrations are stronger than anything I have ever experienced with any other toy, and the easy to use dial means you can very easily turn that power up or down to suit you.

 The first time I tried it, after about 6 orgasms, I actually felt like I was operating on a higher level of consciousness. And I am in no way exaggerating. It was incredible. It almost felt like a first time it was so intense and unexpected. I burnt my first one out late last year (that really says more about me than the poor magic wand) and hadn’t yet got round to replacing it, so was absolutely thrilled when I won a new one in Curvy Girl Thin’s competition last year. It’s not the cheapest toy out there, it plugs into the mains (which is a little cumbersome, but on the plus side you don’t have to worry about batteries or charging) and it’s a little on the noisy side (the wand and pretty much any woman using it I reckon) but for all those little drawbacks, it just works so well. Honestly, the Magic Wand really is the gift that keeps on giving. And I would recommend to any one – I’ve not heard anyone not love it.

While all my friends aren’t massively open to talking about this sort of thing, some are, and I love sharing product recommendations. It was based on a recommendation last year that I decided to purchase a Satisfyer from Amazon last year. Another truly earth shattering toy, the Satisfyer has a suction head that fits over the clitoris and sucks and releases, at varying levels of intensity, depending on the setting. Again, this is another toy pretty much guaranteed to get me off every time. And it also needs to be used with care – some of the higher settings are so intense they’re almost unbearable. In a very delicious way. Yet another product I would whole heartedly recommend for personal use, or for playing with a partner. 

I promised you recommendations, and there they are. I am not sure what else to say really. Except that I think we should talk about these things. Not in ways that make us uncomfortable, but in ways that remind us that this is healthy and normal, and that there is no right or wrong way to do it. But that if you feel the need to, the do! Because there is nothing wrong with spending some good old quality time with yourself! I hope sharing my thoughts and tales might encourage some of you to share yours. With me, or with others. You don’t have to beam it out into the internet, but maybe next time you’re with your friends and on that second glass of vino. Or hell, at you baby and me coffee morning. Or around the water cooler with your work bestie. Wherever women gather! 

For those just wanting to learn a bit more about masturbation, there is an incredible website, called OMG Yes that actually has instructional videos about different ways to pleasure yourself, different techniques, how to practice edging (which is essentially orgasm control, that allows you to stay at a high peak of sexual arousal for a long period of time without climaxing), and things to do with your partner. It is subscription based, but well worth a look if you are wanting to learn a few more things, or if you've never quite figured it out. 

If you have any questions (I am no expert) please feel free to drop me a line. And do let me know if you try the Magic Wand or the Satisfyer – I wanna know it blew your mind! Mwah!


  1. I dont' think I've ever snort laughed my way through a post so much before - I love "visiting the safety deposit box" - I'm definitely stealing that one! ;)

    1. My fave is paddling the pink canoe - amazing!

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