BOOK REVIEW: THE CLITICAL GUIDE TO FEMALE SELF PLEASURE
BY JENNE DAVIS
AMBER LOVE 22-MAY-2015 I stumbled upon THE CLITICAL GUIDE TO FEMALE SELF PLEASURE: HOW TO PLEASE YOURSELF SO YOUR PARTNER CAN TOO in NetGalley. The book’s author, Jenne Davis is the founder of the women’s sex positive website, Clitical.com. This guide is published by the Harper Impulse division of Harper Collins which is for their romance/erotica line.
*Here in this review like in Davis’ book, “woman” and “women” refers to people with clits, vulvas and vaginas. I’m not out to step on anyone’s identity if they don’t have a clitoris, but are a woman. There are various reasons why one may not have the text book “parts” of the anatomy.
I highly recommend this book for women of puberty ages through senior years. This is educational without being boring. Having this guide can also keep your computer history clear of visiting Clitical.com if that is a concern for your privacy.
Jenne Davis presents fourteen chapters about self pleasure in a neat and organized way. She openly discusses her own preferences and quite a lot of real stories by participants of the Clitical.com site. Female anatomy, the quirky and awkward history of masturbation, techniques, and safety are included. Not only are the personal stories given a dedicated chapter at the end of the book, but there are some included in other chapters.
The author emphasizes a few important factors about masturbation: guilt and safety. The Introduction through the first few chapters explains the tremendous shame that is still put on the acts of self pleasure. The history lesson shows how absurd the embarrassment got.
There were some very minor issues I had with the author’s grammar, in particular when she states that using anatomical terms correctly are important to remove stigma and to talk to doctors, but then she didn’t stick firmly to her own advice. On more than one occasion, she also uses the phrase that makes me cringe, “female species.” Female is not a species. It’s a sex identification. You can’t really talk about the importance of choosing your words and then make a blunder like this. Our species is homo sapiens. It’s what we have in common regardless of genitals. Another faux pas occurs much later in the book where Davis seems to credit Bill Gates with inventing the Internet. I think she was she pointing out is that the home PC and Windows have made buying toys and watching porn easily accessible.
Davis does a great job trying to make sure the readers accept that there is no one definition of what perfect bodies and experiences are. She makes sure that readers know some of these tips for stimulation might not work on them. She addresses different age stigmas in a variety of ways. One way is that she emphasizes how women often have dryness as they age. The other is through the personal stories where women talk freely about experimenting with their bodies as young as seven and eight years of age.
The chapter about masturbation history is something I found fascinating. I recently learned a little about this from an episode of the new YouTube channel, Under the Knife. There’s a connection between masturbation being seen as a medical abnormality and self-abuse to the invention of Graham crackers and Kellogg’s cereal.
Dr. Kellogg himself lived a celibate life even when married. His own feelings about sex biased his work that sex was dirty. Davis is probably not the first to theorize that Kellogg may have had klismaphilia, “an anomaly of sexual functioning traceable to childhood in which an enema substitutes for regular sexual intercourse. For the klismaphile, putting the penis in the vagina is experienced as hard, dangerous, and repulsive work.”
The Clitical Guide keeps going through the history of sex through our modern times of Betty Dodson’s sex education and the present day celebrations like Masturbate-a-Thons and Masturbation Month (May).
Common myths about self pleasure are crushed, such as: Women do it because they can’t get a man and are desperate.
Davis is excellent at talking about safety considerations throughout the entire book. Sex toys, store-bought or improvised, have a lot things to take into consideration. Some items can cause infections; toys can transmit STIs; you should still use a condom even with objects that aren’t connected to another human.
Privacy safety – whenever the author talks about making your own at-home porn, she reminds readers to delete it and never to send it to anyone you don’t know very well.
Due to the number of personal stories where women talk about masturbating in public spaces and even in cars, Davis reminds people to use caution and common sense.
As I mentioned before, Davis acknowledges that bodies are different and have different needs, experiences and reactions to stimuli. She points out that media outlets responsible for removing the shame of masturbation have also caused a different shame for women who feel like they have something wrong with them if they aren’t having mindblowing orgasms all the time.
The three types of recognized orgasms are discussed: clitoral, vaginal, and blended. I’m sure she’s only addressing the physical process here because women can orgasm without even being touched or touched in places that aren’t between the legs. Some of the personal stories back this up. After Davis discusses fantasies and porn, she even explains “aural sex” and the joys of listening to erotica audio books.
Even within the common types of orgasm methods presented, Davis points out that the clitoral orgasm is seen as “too easy,” basically cheating the process and the least desired. This is another kind of shame. If you need to have this stimulation to come to climax, that’s your body and your body isn’t wrong. Davis explained that this particular kind of shame likely came from Freud who had a lot of assumptions about sex.
The G-spot is given some pages. Again, Davis tries to make the readers comfortable by stating: “It is worthy noting here that whilst the g-spot can be a wonderful extension of your orgasm play, not everyone enjoys having it stimulated.”
Another chapter delves into fantasizes and the importance of having your mind in the right mood. Watching porn to get in the mood is brought up a lot by the women who shared their own stories. Davis talks about porn too, but at the end of her promotion for porn, she reminds readers that the people they’re watching are paid actors and it’s not reflective of real life (in regards to budgeted studio porn, obviously).
Chapter Ten gets into the facts about sex toys even though there were plenty of personal stories about them prior to this. This chapter is organized and like most of the book, you don’t have read the chapters in order. If you need a quick reference and reminder about what lube works best for which situation, jump to Chapter Ten.
“The simple truth is that many women have lived fulfilling lives without ever owning a vibrator, dildo, or any other type of sexual enhancer, and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Owning a vibe should not be seen as some kind of rite of passage into womanhood, any more than not owning one makes you less of a woman.” ~ Jenne Davis, Clitical
Davis gives the pros and cons of different style toys. Things to consider are the power supply – battery, rechargeable, or AC. Size and material are also major considerations, as are what is waterproof or not. She even brings up that some sex toy reviewers will point out what products are noisy in case that’s a consideration.
I like the way Davis gives the breakdown of the sex toy products by material. It’s an easy to follow list covering glass, silicone, jelly, rubber latex, TPR (thermoplastic rubber) and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), hard plastic, metal, Cyberskin and Softskin. Her biggest caution is against jelly rubber and anything that is not internally safe to use because of phthalates.
Even though the book and website are called Clitical, the clitoris is not the only organ and body surface explored. Davis gives plenty of attention to breasts, vaginas, and anal play. Her warnings are important and should be the things taught to us in schools, but we know that sex education is not equal. So if you start getting turned on and think it might be fun to explore butt play, keep reading through the chapters until you get through all the pages of what is safe and what is not.
There’s an entire section where Davis explains the types of lubricants. Again, this is something that some women can feel shameful about because through erotica and porn, we’re taught that being turned on makes women wet even though that’s only true for some women. If you can use lube, make sure you pick the right one. You never want to use silicone lube with a silicone toy.
Improvised toys like food or bathroom items can be fun, but Davis also goes in a lot of warnings about them in Chapter Eleven. Using condoms and avoiding foods made of sugar are things to remember.
PARTNER OR NO PARTNER
Davis works hard to remove the myth that people who are in relationships would no longer need or want to masturbate. Throughout the book, she mainly is talking about being solo, but there are sections where she gets into partners watching each other or using it as foreplay. Long distance relationships and the advent of new technologies are other areas where Davis is trying to break the stigma that self pleasure is for the lonely and desperate.
Chapter Fourteen is dedicated to Clitical personal stories submitted to the website. As I said, there are a lot of personal stories in other chapters, but when you get to Fourteen, it’s basically like reading flash erotica.
Only one story grossed me out and turned me off. A woman said she loves to masturbate in store dressing rooms, but she confessed that she tries on the underwear for sale, skanks it up, and then puts it back on the racks for sale.
Even Chapter Fourteen is organized by style. There are stories about using bathtubs, shower heads and hot tubs and then stories about humping pillows.
At the end of the book, readers will find a list of websites for sex education and sex bloggers, then a list of online shops for sex toys and supplies, and finally a few general sites for information such as Planned Parenthood.
An easy to follow, clearly organized approach to educating readers about self pleasure in a positive way.