female masturbationFor starters, did you know that May is National Masturbation Month? Probably not, though let’s be honest, there’s a good chance you’ve been celebrating without even realizing it.

1. About 85% of women aged 25-29 have masturbated at least once.
According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior from Indiana University, most women masturbate, or at least have. Shocking, I know! According to that same 2009 study, these are the percentages of women in each age group who masturbate at least a few times per year—18-24: ~63%, 25-29: ~72%, 30-39: ~63%, 40-49: ~65%, 50-59: ~54%, 60-69: ~46%, 70+: ~31%. And I’d be willing to bet that those numbers have gone up even in the past six years.

2. There are at least 519 euphemisms for “masturbating.”
Manist put together a rather comprehensive list of every euphemism for masturbation, of which I’ve heard less than a quarter. A few of the most absurd female-specific ones: checking the status of the I/O port (so much easier to just say masturbating), dialing the rotary phone, flossing the cat (ew), sending Muffin Morse Code (WHAT?), shining the diamond, seasoning your fish (gross), tossing the pink salad (I really do not enjoy the food-related ones), wading in the Bermuda triangle. You’re welcome!

3. Ancient civilizations were chill about it.
While ancient Greeks and Romans did value male masturbation above female (naturally), there are prehistoric rock paintings depicting women masturbating (and enjoying it) all around the world. A clay figurine from the 4th millennium B.C., found at a temple site on the island of Malta, depicts a woman masturbating, “one hand languidly supporting her head.”

4. “Masturbation “frequently practis’d” by women makes ‘em look pale…”
Jokes, you guys. But this is an actual excerpt from the 18th century pamphlet ONANIA; OR, THE Heinous Sin OF Self-Pollution, AND All its Frightful Consequences, in both SEXES, Considered. WITH Spiritual and Physical Advice to those, who have already injur’d themselves by this Abominable Practice. Let’s read on, shall we?

Masturbation “frequently practis’d” by women makes ‘em look pale, and those who are not of a good Complection, swarthy and hagged. It frequently is the Cause of the Hysterick Fits, and sometimes, by draining away all the radical Moisture, Consumptions. But what it more often produces than either is Barrenness, and at length a total ineptitude to the Act of Generation itself, Misfortunes very afflicting to them, because seldom to be redress’d.

Shoot, no wonder you can’t get tan! Not to mention those hysterical fits you’ve been having…LOL. Needless to say this pamphlet was a major part of the negative attitude shift toward masturbation, especially for women.

5. Speaking of hysteric fits, vibrators were invented as a treatment for hysteria.
There are few invention tales more fascinating than that of the vibrator. Victorian-era Europe and America were bad times for female libido, being that common knowledge dictated that it didn’t exist. Since women were believed to have no sex drive whatsoever, the byproducts of their sexual lack—anxiety, irritability, nervousness, erotic fantasies, wetness between their legs—were diagnosed as “hysteria.” (The Greek for “uterus,” because, lucky us, being a women has always been inherently associated with borderline psychotic mood swings.)

Anyway, mostly useless 19th-century European doctors were overjoyed to find a condition they could actually treat! All they had to do was apply some vegetable oil to a woman’s genitals, put two fingers inside, and massage the clitoris with the heel of their hand, and bingo! Women experienced a sudden, dramatic release from hysteria, aka an orgasm, which doctors called a “paroxysm.” Miraculous! Unfortunately by the early 1800s those brilliant doctors’ fingers were getting cramped and tired from all that…healing. Finally, in 1880, Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville patented the electromechanical vibrator, for those poor doctors of course. If that’s not a story you’ll want to tell at your next dinner party I don’t know what is.

6. The vibrator market is um…booming. 
A 2009 study by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that about 52.5% of women aged 18 to 60 had used a vibrator at least once. More amazing? The vibrator market in the U.S. alone is about $1 billion. Compare that to the condom market? Less than half at $450 million. I mean yeah condoms are cheaper but still….wow.

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