Female Non-Masturbators, Not Normal? Dan Savage Seems to Think So


In this week’s Savage Love, Dan answers questions on gay dating, co-habitation, and woman-pleasing — you know, pretty standard stuff for a sex column.

Now, I like and respect Savage’s work a lot. That said, I’m not entirely sold on several bits of advice he offers up in this edition: There’s too much talk about masturbation and not enough about oral sex.

Allow me to explain.

But first, a brief recap of the letter in question is in order.

In “Devil In The Details,” a man explains that he’s been so distracted during sex that he loses his erection or ejaculates super quickly that his girlfriend can’t climax. He wants to know what Savage thinks about sex toys, which he’s considering using to pleasure her. But DITD is worried: “My girlfriend doesn’t own any, and she says she doesn’t masturbate because she tried it once and never came. How do I approach her with the idea of using sex toys during sex? Should I? I just want her to experience an orgasm even if I need to get some extra help from a vibrator.”

Savage does give DITD some good, healthy advice — use sex toys, as they are a “great way to take the pressure off your dick.”

But worth noting here is Savage’s mini-screed on female masturbation:

“A woman who doesn’t masturbate — because she tried it once and it didn’t work — has hang-ups, DITD. And a woman with hang-ups is much likelier to forgive a partner for having purchased some sex toys than she is to give a partner her advance permission to go and purchase some sex toys. So find a good local or online sex-toy store and buy whatever you think looks like fun.”

While I totally agree that sex toys can spice up things between the sheets, I call bullshit on the idea that a woman who doesn’t masturbate has hangups.

Yes, some studies claim that as many as 92 percent of women masturbate — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something weird or wrong with the other 8 percent.

As sex education material suggests, people’s masturbation patterns are like people — considerably varied.

(More broadly, the whole human variation in sex thing has been made very clear by the Kinsey Institute’s research.)

As long as people are doing what they want — even if it’s something seemingly so bizarre as not masturbating — it sure seems strange to treat their choices as evidence of a psychological problem or aversion to sexual exploration.

And as one writer recently put it, “I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to sex. I like getting spanked. I’ve had anal. I love giving blowjobs. I’m into exhibitionism. I’ve done mild knife play and I’ve had my wrists restrained…but I hate masturbating.”

Realizing that she is the odd one out, she does a great job defending her choice, explaining:

“I realized that masturbation was never going to be my cup of tea because part of what makes sex so great for me is the connection with another person. Letting someone else in, knowing that they are interested in getting me aroused…I find that beyond sexy. I love that look that all of my partners have had, that look when they’re totally focused on me and I can tell that they’re aroused by how titillated I am…that’s absolutely integral to my sexual gratification. I used to feel really uncomfortable about this. I thought I was almost…degrading myself, by, in a way, relinquishing my sexual agency to others. But at the end of the day, that is what I’m comfortable with, and knowing what I want and adhering to it is way less degrading than engaging in activity that I don’t even particularly enjoy just so I don’t feel left out.”

So yes: Savage’s linking the dislike of masturbation-hangup link does seem kinda iffy.

Also, one thing we wonder about: Why not suggest oral sex? Certainly, cunnilngus can be just as fun and satisfying as the vibrators or dildos Savage suggests.