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Women Masturbation

A Blog By Nancy Underwood

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Nancy Underwood

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Society's view of female masturbation throughout history

Depictions of both male and female masturbation have been found in cave paintings, rock paintings, and in other prehistoric artifacts. In ancient Egypt, masturbating was believed to have been the act that created the universe and enabled the god Atum to bring to life the Egyptian equivalents of Adam and Eve. Researchers have also found depictions of female masturbation from as early as the 4th millennium BC. It's a clay figurine discovered in a temple site in Malta. The ancient Greeks, regarded masturbation as a healthy alternative to other forms of sexual pleasure - and depicted the act in many of their art forms and writings.

However, in the austere middle ages, when much of what we perceive and believe about sexual practices were formed, the only thing less tolerable than male masturbation throughout much of Europe was female masturbation, and the woman found to be indulging could at best expect a session on the village ducking stool being fully submerged several times in freezing cold water, or at worst, to be whipped, spat upon and burnt at the stake as a witch.

Advance several millennia and in the highly restrained and puritanical environs of Victorian England and 19th century New England, both male and female masturbation was viewed as the closest thing to moral bankruptcy. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the man famous today for bringing the world Corn Flakes, was actually more famous in his life time as an advisor on sexual matters and for running a successful health sanatorium. In 1881 he wrote the first edition of a book called 'Plain Facts for Folks Old & Young'. Among many of its lengthy chapters was a chapter on 'Solitary Vice' which was widely regarded as a pernicious evil: "That solitary vice is one of the most common causes of insanity, is a fact too well established to need demonstration here. Every lunatic asylum furnishes numerous illustrations of the fact. "Authors are universally agreed, from Galen down to the present day, about the pernicious influence of this enervating indulgence, and its strong propensity to generate the very worst and most formidable kinds of insanity. It has frequently been known to occasion speedy, and even instant, insanity."

It was common practice beginning in ancient times and continuing well into the 19th century, even as the likes of the good Dr. Kellogg was railing against it, for doctors to diagnose any number of female symptoms and to prescribe a stimulating pelvic massage as a cure-all. The massage would induce "hysterical paroxysm" administered in the belief that sexual release would provide temporary relief from the patient's symptoms. This was female masturbation administered in the name of medicine.

Of course today Western society's views on both male and female masturbation have become considerably more relaxed but arcane and inflexible belief structures still result in several 'nicely brought up girls' feeling guilty about the practice and it is still regarded as a taboo subject in all but the most liberated of modern civilizations.


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