I’m the mom of 3 girls ranging in age from 7 to 15. I’ve told them the basics about sex in the terms of making babies but never anything about pleasure. Do you have any advice on how to talk to my daughters about pleasure? I don’t know where to begin.
Great question! The fact that you’re asking this says a lot to me about the kind of parent you are. 🙂
Having a conversation with our daughters about pleasure can be extra difficult because we’re culturally conditioned to think of pleasure as shameful and bad — especially in reference to females. It isn’t uncommon to hear a mother joke about her son who can’t keep his hands out of his pants. However if she said the same about a daughter others may think there’s something “wrong” with her, or that somethings been done to her to make her “that way.” The fact is that masturbating for pleasure is a part of our sexual development that begins even before birth.
“We recently observed a female fetus at 32 weeks gestation touching the vulva with fingers of the right hand. The caressing movements were centred primarily on the region of the clitoris. Movements stopped after 30 to 40 seconds and started again after a few minutes. Furthermore, these slight touches were repeated and were associated with short, rapid movements of pelvis and legs……. We observed this for 20 minutes.”
— The Story of V, Catherine Blackledge
So how do you start? Start by using correct terminology when discussing their sexual anatomy and avoid “dumbing it down” with terms like “front bum” or ”pee pee.” We use these terms to lessen our own discomfort and in fact they just feed the already imposed cultural shame around our genitals. If you don’t know the correct terms then please learn them before you talk. You can explain to them about their clitoris and how it’s the only organ in our body that’s sole purpose is for pleasure. I’d tell them that masturbating is normal and natural and that basically everyone does it and that it’s a 100% safe way to have sex. (only say the safe sex part if it’s age appropriate) I’d even go so far as to say that you and your friends masturbate so they know that you’re not just speaking rhetorically. This may feel a bit awkward to say at first but I think you’ll notice from their response that they appreciate hearing it. It also helps for them to know that pleasure through masturbation is normal at different stages in life. Of course discussions about masturbation should also include discussions about appropriateness and safety and you will most likely have a different conversation with your older girls than your younger one.
With your older daughter(s) I would also tell them that the pleasure they experience through masturbation can and should also be experienced in sexual experiences with others when they are ready. This bit of information was a missing link for me as a teen because I masturbated for pleasure alone and had sex with my boyfriend without pleasure. It didn’t even occur to me that pleasure had anything to do with sex or that I could have both at the same time because no one told me that was possible. I want my daughters to know this. Sex for my own pleasure was a completely foreign concept and I see this carry through with adult women who talk about “good” sex. When questioned on what this means it is often apparent that “good” simply means not awful and has very little to do with actual pleasure.
I hope this helps as a starting point for the conversation with your daughters. I find in my Orgasm Coaching practice that the best indicator of sexual satisfaction as an adult is if the woman masturbated as a child. If you have any other questions or would like some anatomy diagrams to print out please don’t hesitate to email me again. You’re a wonderful mother to be seeking this information for your daughters!