Penthouse Retrospective

by Lonnie Barbach and Linda Levine Originally Published: November, 1980

Female Sexuality | 40 Years Ago This Month

A new study of female sexuality takes us into the private erotic world of women.

Penthouse Magazine - November 1980Shared Intimacies

As part of our interviews into female sexuality we asked women to share the special techniques, intercourse positions, and accoutrements they used to enhance their sexual relationships. Almost every woman initially said she really had nothing special to offer. The assumption was that a “really sexual woman” is someone who uses bizarre and unusual sexual techniques to enhance her sexuality. In reality we found that each woman had at least one special way of keeping her sexual relationship alive and interesting.

Often, however, the women were so focused on what they could not do that they failed to appreciate the novelty of the special techniques they already used. Since they carried, out these techniques so naturally, they did not realize that they might be interesting and innovative to someone else.

Female Sexuality: ORAL SEX

A large majority of the women we interviewed had experienced oral sex, both fellatio and cunnilingus. Most considered oral sex, particularly cunnilingus, one of their most enjoyable sexual activities.

Heather (married three years) describes how she likes oral sex:

“I guess oral sex is so nice because my husband really works at it. He knows how to use his tongue; he tongues me in all the right places, on my clitoris and my lips. I especially like it when he even sucks on my clitoris a little bit, but not too hard, because if it’s too much, it hurts. He puts his finger up my anus when he’s inside me, and that’s nice, too.”

Rosemary (divorced, living alone), describes her technique in detail:

“Being licked all over is a real turn-on for my boyfriend. He loves to have his balls and anal area licked and kissed, with my tongue in his anus and all around that area. He likes it when I almost adore it, and he can see that I really enjoy doing it. He’s particularly sensitive from the underside of his penis down to the balls and all around the anus. He also likes me to put my finger inside his anus. I put Vaseline on my middle finger, and I stick it all the way in while I’m licking his balls. Then I move, on to the penis while I’ve still got my finger in his anus, and I’m sucking and putting his penis all the way in my mouth. He reaches a climax pretty quickly this way; so it’s a real turn-on for him and for me, too.

“I use the ‘butterfly stroke,’ where I flick my tongue up and down the length of the penis and back and forth over the area under the corona. And I do a lot of tantalizing even before I get to the penis, like caressing the sensitive area on the upper thigh, near the crease. I go round and round that whole area with my fingers or my tongue. I do all that stroking early and again and again until he really wants me to caress his penis.”

Sally (married 16 years):

“I really like oral sex — both ways — when my partner goes down on me and when I go down on him. Sometimes we go down on each other at the same time, but I usually prefer one at a time. Otherwise, there’s too much going on. I feel like I’m going to miss out on something, especially since I love oral sex when I’m the recipient. I love the feelings. I feel really tingly and excited, like I’m going to burst open any minute. I like to try to stay at the edge. I actually try not to have an orgasm for a long time; then, when it happens, it’s really intense.

“When it’s my turn to go down on my partner, I love to put his penis in my mouth, massage it and take it out, and watch to see how he is reacting. I can feel when he is getting ready to come; then I stop and start all over again. That’s exciting for me. I can have an orgasm just by doing that.

Female Sexuality: ANAL SEX

We were surprised at the number of women who had tried anal intercourse at one time or another. In Kinsey’s study during the 1940s, the number of women who had tried anal sex was negligible. Hunt’s study in the 1970s found that one-sixth of the women under 25 had tried anal intercourse and that six percent had used it occasionally during the preceding year. We found that approximately ten percent of the women we talked with mentioned anal sex spontaneously when we asked what sexual positions they used or whether they had any experiences they would call unusual. One woman remarked, “We’ve even gotten into anal sex a little bit, and I never, never thought I would do that.”

Allison gave good instructions for initiating anal sex:

“Anal intercourse is an important and enjoyable part of my sex life. I know that women find it too painful to contemplate, but I was lucky, because my partner helped to initiate me in such a way that it was not a traumatic and painful experience. I’d like to share what I learned from him and from the experience. Two key factors are that the woman should be completely relaxed and that her partner should initiate penetration very slowly, always responding to the woman’s directions about whether to stop or proceed.

In comparison, Female Sexuality fills a much broader spectrum of the human condition than does the male equivalent. "Normal" means a variety.

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