What reddit can teach us about female masturbation

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

Today I learned that some women have wanked with Barbie legs. Others with mimi M+Ms tubes. Razor handles – the squishy, textured ones you get on Gillette Venus – are pretty popular too. Others have used bedposts, bottles, pillows, blankets. If you can find it in your average house, chances are someone’s rubbed it vigorously against their sexy bits.

I knew some of this already, of course: that people are ingenious when they’re horny. But when reddit asked women for the weirdest thing they’d masturbated with, the sheer variety of implements was fascinating.

Stationery seems quite popular – squiggle pens, marker pens and the like. Toys – including a couple of things they got in Happy Meals. Anything vaguely phallic or humpable. Plus shower heads, of course – lots of different tricks with a shower head.

Some people went to quite a lot of effort to construct things which would work for them. Like Dr_Jenny_McCarthy:

“I made a contraption using a spoon with a thick plastic handle, and the spoon part cupping this little soft toy I had that had a pull string vibration motor in it. I’d have probably preferred it to be a motor with a battery but I just worked with what I had!

“I imagine if I’d ever been caught it would’ve looked like I was try to start a tiny chainsaw inside myself.”

And some even used genuine sex toys – albeit in a cringeingly unknowing way. My heart goes out to poor considerthesnail:

“When I was 14, I found a back massager in my parents’ room. It wasn’t hidden at all, just right out in the open. I had only recently heard about vibrators, I didn’t even know what they were supposed to look like (I was really innocent), so I wanted to try it. It became an addiction for about six months.

“It wasn’t til a few years later that I realized…my parents were using it for the same thing.”

So far, so completely incredible. I’m obliged to point out, for safety’s sake, that it’s generally not a good idea to wank with things that aren’t designed for wanking. Electric toothbrush heads can collect bacteria, lego dildos (no, really) could cut you or break inside. I know you know this, but if I don’t state it up front I’ll get letters. Here’s a link to some real sex toys, so you can wank like the health and safety execs do.

I see no danger with pillow-humping though, so unless your pillow’s filled with pirhanas or something: hump away, my friend.

The way we talk about female masturbation

Disclaimer: I fucking HATE the term ‘female masturbation’, but sometimes I have to use it to point out why it’s rubbish. 

Naturally I love discussions like this. Female masturbation is often presented in ways which obscure the horniness of the woman doing it. It’s either porny (masturbation as performance to an audience of straight men) or pretty (a delicate treat that women partake in occasionally, in the same way they’d slowly eat a box of expensive chocolates in front of a roaring fire). Articles on female masturbation are often peppered with words like ‘sensual’, which is the soft-focus lens of the sex writing world. The word ‘sensual’ strips wanking of urgency or lust. It makes it about exploration rather than need and in doing so (I think) sanitises and cute-ifies female desire.

But wanking isn’t always cute and pretty and sensual. My wanking is grubby, efficient, urgent, quick, grunting, bored, horny, curious – any of those things before it’s ‘sensual.’ I see far more of myself in this amazing reddit thread than I do in most mainstream discussion of it.

And yet while I see myself in those people, I have no cool ‘I wanked with this weird thing’ stories to tell. I never bothered inserting things, because I couldn’t work out what it’d do for me when my clit did everything I thought I needed. I rarely humped things, because that seemed like too much effort.

There were occasional additions: a metal anglepoise lamp next to my bedside table which, in winter, would get shockingly cold. If I were alone in the room I’d pull down my top and position the lamp so it touched one of my nipples – making it hard and tight and chilly while I wanked.

I definitely tried the shower head, at least a couple of times. But it didn’t work as well for me as my usual routine: getting onto my knees in the shower, leaning back, and rubbing myself til I came. And so deodorant cans, hairbrushes, teddies, carrots, and all the other things mentioned in the reddit thread went unused in my house: it was just me, my hands, and whatever was happening in my head.

So I’m a boring wanker. But that’s OK. What I like about this thread isn’t that it’s a list of almost any household item imaginable, alongside a woman who’s happy to admit that she’s frigged with it at least once: what I like is the honesty. The practicality. The everyday ordinariness of just having a wank because you want one.

This, I think, is what’s missing from a lot of our discussion on female sexuality. We position male sexuality as an urgent necessity and female sexuality as a sensual treat. For those of us who do wank, it rarely fits at either end of that spectrum. Whether you’ve got a drawer full of sex toys, a pillow to hump, or just a pair of hands and five minutes to kill at lunchtime, your wank is probably fairly ordinary.

In fact it’s probably one of the most ordinary things you do.


There’s a much longer discussion of this weird wanking double-standard in my latest book – if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, please do buy it! And if you’ve bought it, I’d really appreciate an Amazon review if you have time to leave one. Huge thanks to all the people who have reviewed it already and said lovely things! 


  • Lola says:

    I’ve “wanked” – as you Brits like to say – with just about everything: toilet plunger, champagne bottle, bottle of conditioner, highlighter marker (on the plane), meditation cushion (while meditating in a public place), just to name a few. Of course I’ve used “the usual” – fingers, shower-head, dildos – as well as some of the unusual insertions meant for inserting – my horse cock shaped dildo, for instance. But the best is when I use HH as my personal Sybian toy and open my phone to some steamy porn while sitting on top of him.
    Love your column, btw!

  • Elliott says:

    I hope it’s okay for a male to comment here? I read the responses to the question with interest. On Zoig, I’ve seen females use many interesting and unusual items for masturbation, as do males. Myself included. But, nothing beats my hand with a good lube combined with a cock ring. But it’s fun to try new things.

  • Curvaceous Dee says:

    I never looked at a maglte torch the same way again after I had a wanking good time with it in my late teens :)

    xx Dee

  • Gina says:

    Is it weird that I want to buy you a pint and make you my best friend? Haha sorry for the unwanted display of emotion, I simply loved this post, shared it with a couple of my gals as well.
    Thanks for the perfectly phrasing a constant thought of mine x

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hey – thank you so much! That’s a bloody lovely thing to say and I’m honoured =) Thank you for sharing it too!

  • Asrai Devin says:

    I never got off on direct clitoris stimulation. The intensity triggers fear and anxiety. So humping g is the way to go. Lol. As long so everyone has a good time no shame.

  • Jo says:

    It’s funny – mass media often mocks men for being so uncontrollably horny that they’ll use anything to jack it with (see: American Pie), but women are totally in the same boat. We’re all a hot mess of hormones and neurochemicals. A wonderful, sticky hot mess. My parents could *not* get me out of the bathroom in high school – I’d use all the hot water and it drove my family mad. The orgasms were worth their wrath!

  • Equality will have finally been achieved when we can do away with useless male/female differentiations for things like masturbation. Is there a difference between male voting and female voting? Male sleeping or female sleeping? (I’m going to avoid driving as I don’t want to open that particular can of worms… ;)

    The answer is, of course, no, there is no difference. The same with masturbation. Yes, sure, OK, we do it in different ways, because we have different bits, but that’s a very technical technicality. When all is said and done, wanking is wanking, regardless of the gender of the wanker.

    We achieved universal suffrage in the last century, can we achieve universal wankerage in this one?


  • Davey says:

    This is why the butt is so great. It’s a gender leveler. For me, wierdest was a string of tennis balls. Pop, pop, pop.

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