The pussy palace: A woman’s pleasure

By: Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)

Simply put, no clitoris no climax.

Overt sexuality is embarrassing. I know a lot of my friends will be embarrassed to read this title, and my family will be mortified to know that I even use the word ‘pussy’. It’s true, because overt sexuality is a personal thing and how dare you share your personal opinion?

As women, and especially as women in South Africa, we have been conditioned into a culture of submission. We have a well-documented history of gender inequality and one cannot mention inequality without remembering 9 August 1956 when about twenty thousand brave women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to present a petition against the then law of carrying passes by women.

We may now have constitutional equality, but one of the ways we continue to find ourselves limited as women is in the freedom to enjoy our sexuality openly. My learned-candidness about the topic of self-pleasure was met with a mixture of nervous giggling and indignant feminism by some of my friends. Responses ranged from “It’s personal and I’d rather not talk about it here” to “yeah I flick the bean, sometimes I wake up at night because I’m so horny I’m literally vibrating”.

According to WebMD, “masturbation is a very common behaviour, even among people who have a sex partner and according to Health24’s Great South African Sex Surveys for 2008 and 2009, the figures for women were between 67 and 75 percent confirming that they masturbate (compared to 71 and 82 percent of South African men). Masturbation is often the first sexual act experienced by most males and females.

So while it seems ‘everyone is doing it’, the sanctuary that is the ‘Pussy Palace’, namely, masturbation, remains a taboo. I cannot fault my dear friends on these responses, after all, openly expressing female sexuality is somewhat of a taboo in my great republic, and the Holy Bible, a truth for many Christians, speaks against self-pleasuring, which it refers to as an immoral ‘violation’ of your body. From a personal perspective, you can either hide behind that, or like my vibrating friend, you can gracefully fight against it.

I am a fourth year medical student at Wits, so I can shed some light on the female anatomy: the clitoris is a pea-sized spongy structure. It can be found just above the urethra (where women ‘pee’ from) and immediately below the junction of the labia majora (basically, your pubic lips) which are the downwards extensions of your mons pubis (the first part you see when you pull your panties down too low).  Anatomically, the clitoris is the female equivalent of a male penis. It develops embryologically (in-utero) from a homologous structure and it therefore has the same sensation and function of eliciting sexual pleasure.

As a woman your clitoris was made for enjoying pleasure; that is its most chief function: it is the gurgling fountain of sexual pleasure. In order for a woman to orgasm, the clitoris needs to be touched, stroked, caressed and coaxed along with all that crass finger-banging some people think it’s just about. Simply put, no clitoris no climax.

Although I am training to be a medical doctor and well versed in the theory of the female sexual organs, like many women in the comparatively conservative Republic of South Africa, I too am a bit “shy” about masturbation and speaking openly about female sexuality. So, I spoke to Jade Zwane, a bold sex therapist and life coach, about the “m-word”. It is tempting to think that she picked up the phone with the sultry confidence of a refined escort, but, instead, she sounded quite ‘normal’.

Zwane is professional and frank in her approach such that even the more reserved of us gals would be comfortable with her recommendations; her first being that anyone looking to start masturbating, should start in the shower.

Why should we start in the shower? Zwane says“It’s private and it will help you overcome any initial shyness because nobody will be watching. A warm, steamy shower is also relaxing so it will give you a leisurely and luxurious environment to explore yourself.”

As a woman I have always seen masturbation as an adjunct to sexual pleasure and Zwane agrees. She continues by saying “I encourage women to learn about their body’s pleasure points through masturbation so that they can communicate it to their partners and have a more fulfilling sex life.”

Zwane says masturbation should remain private and like all good things, should be kept in moderation. “Women must use vibrators properly so as not to over-stimulate themselves. The vibrator should not be kept in one place for too long on the clitoris as it can over-stimulate it and literally kill off nerve endings which do not regenerate.”

Aside from the vibrator, Zwane recommends using your hands: “When using your fingers to masturbate, use lubricant, stroke your clitoris, insert a finger or two into the vaginal canal. You can interchange between the two actions”. Zwane also emphasised the importance of lubricant once more and played with the idea of using toys when masturbating; namely fleshlights for men and vibrators for women.

Before signing off with her trademark “yours in all things sensual”, Zwane told me about her favourite sex toys which include a masturbation barbell and a body massager for clitoral stimulation.  These and other fun toys are available at the women-orientated Honey Honey and Lola Montez. Toys range from the price of about R140 for a clitoris vibrator to about R2500 for a bunny vibrator made famous by Sex and The City’s character, Charlotte.

As I pen off, I am having thoughts of vibrating bunnies and I am tempted by the thought of leading a march to the Union Buildings to demand sexual empowerment. Far-fetched, perhaps, so I will do the next best thing which is to encourage you to explore this private journey. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about a sexually liberal woman, so instead of hoping your partner might get it right, I encourage you to explore yourself and to explore your truth.

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