Judy married in the late 1950s; well before the average woman was informed about what a sexual relationship might involve. Judy’s aspirations were to provide a comfortable home for her family and to enjoy being a wife and a mother.
When I talked to her, Judy was in her mid-sixties with grown up children and a relationship of over 40 years.
When it was suggested recently that UK schools should explain the role of the clitoris, mothers were up in arms. They objected to their daughters knowing that a girl might find it pleasurable later in her life to touch her clitoris.
There was no uproar over boys’ genitals.
Carolyn, a relationship counsellor in her fifties, told me she thought it unwise to positively encourage female masturbation. She did not give her reasons.
“Many women think of masturbation as unnatural and disgusting and a complete waste of time, and don’t understand why anybody does it and are unsympathetic to the view that people might continue to do it even though they have sexual partners.
Many couples, both men and women, find any discussion of their sex life intensely embarrassing. This lack of discussion leads to difficulties in enjoying sexual pleasure and exploring sexual fantasies.
Sex is associated with pleasure (through sexual arousal and orgasm) as well as with reproduction (through family and relationships). However male and female sexuality are, often implicitly, defined differently in terms of the importance of the relationship aspects of sex.
For example, men are motivated to enjoy their own sexual arousal and orgasm regardless of a relationship.
William Masters and Virginia Johnson’s research in the 1960s focused on intercourse but even they acknowledged that the clitoris is the source of female orgasm (NOT the vagina as is often assumed).
To explain female orgasm during intercourse, they suggested that the hood of the clitoris is pulled each time the penis thrusts into the vagina, thus providing enough clitoral stimulation for orgasm.
As our bodies develop through puberty, young men and women become aware of themselves as very different sexual beings.
Boys have erections as early as 8 or 9. During puberty the penis increases substantially in size and becomes much more responsive to stimulation, both mental and physical.