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Thy likeness begets such strange self flattery,
That touching myself, all seems done to thee.
Myself I embrace, and mine own hands I kiss,
And amorously thank myself for this.
- Sappho 600 BC
Most women who are currently without a sexual partner tend to ease their loneliness through the intense study of bubble baths, romance novels, and chocolate. Some women also attain emotional release during these times of stress by exploring their nether regions in solitude.
The history of female masturbation is largely one of censorship.
During a brief period of confusion, Victorian doctors prescribed vibrator-like devices for women suffering from 'female hysteria'. Some even administered the therapeutic touch themselves2.
In 1994, US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was dismissed because of public condemnation over her casual aside at an AIDS conference that perhaps masturbation should be taught in school.
In 1999, the state of Alabama in the US passed a law penalizing sex toy retailers with as much as one year in prison plus a $10,000 fine. Alabama stores package sex toys as massage devices while the constitutionality of the law is decided in court3.
Common euphemisms for female masturbation include frigging, fingering, diddling, jilling off, petting the kitty, flicking the bean, rolling the trackball, tickling the tulips, and unbuttoning the fur coat.
Compared to male masturbation, female masturbation is far more variable. Some women report multiple orgasms and many others report an inability to climax. This may have something to do with the complexity of female genitalia. The part you see is actually just the front end of a very complicated system. Comparing men's genitalia to women's is somewhat like comparing your common kitchen sink to the plumbing within a British hotel.
Techniques among women are similarly variable. Many women simply caress themselves or squeeze their thighs together. Others employ running water from a bath or shower, or utilize household items and/or vegetables. Some women also purchase devices designed specifically for their sexual pleasure. These tools can be found under the broad header of 'marital aids'. This term is perhaps ironic since the huge majority of pilgrimages with these appliances are solo trips.
In fact, a great deal of the problem with women's sexual gratification is their own general ignorance of the anatomy involved. A woman who is totally unacquainted with her own body is relatively unlikely to find someone capable of satisfying her, even to her own apparently inferior standards.
While some women can achieve orgasm through vaginal insertion, the majority climax primarily through friction to the clitoris. In the end, most women find that female masturbation involves more than just poking fun at yourself.