Penthouse Retrospective

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

Female Sexuality | 40 Years Ago This Month

The penis should be well lubricated. Some people use K-Y jelly, but I like to use the lubrication from my vagina. For me it was helpful to have vaginal stimulation from my partner before anal, sex — to take my mind off the anxiety. Friends of mine say that they like to have an orgasm in foreplay beforehand to be completely relaxed for the anal insertion. When your partner does start the insertion, he must again respond to your directions. Another important factor to remember is never to have vaginal intercourse after, anal intercourse. The fecal matter from the anus could start an infection in the vagina. So I make my, partner wash his penis before we have vaginal intercourse after anal intercourse. If your partner gets carried away and does penetrate your vagina after anal intercourse, just wash out your vagina with your fingers, using soap and water or douching”

Sara has used a unique position for anal intercourse in her 26-year marriage to Sam, a college professor:

“My favorite position for anal intercourse is where I’m on top, straddling my partner, who’s lying on his back. My weight is on my hands, which are next to his arms or shoulders. His penis is well lubricated either with lubrication or vaginal secretions. Then I move my hips toward his shoulders so that his penis is at an angle of about 45 degrees and can easily be inserted into my anus. I lower myself slowly onto his penis, allowing it to penetrate as far as is comfortable. Then I can move my body back and forth along his penis to suit my own pleasure. I also like having my breasts fondled and my nipples sucked at the same time. What I like most about this position is the control I have and the fact that I’m facing my partner and able to have so much contact with him.”


Several women said that one of their most powerful sexual experiences was being able to masturbate in front of their partners. As sex therapists, we have also found this to be true of many women. Masturbation for many of us has been associated with words like dirty, shameful, or, at the very least, private; so masturbating in front of another person may seem like a big step to take. It can, however, be a very positive one. It can be a learning experience for your partner in terms of what you like and need sexually to achieve orgasm, and at the same time it can be a turn-on for the other person. Being able to pleasure yourself in front of your partner can involve so much trust, understanding, and support that it can be a very intimate experience. Beverly (36, married nine years) tells how difficult this was but how powerful she felt afterward:

“For me, the one big thing that l’ve worked on in the last few years is being able to masturbate in front of my partner, something I never could do before. It was one more step in claiming my sexuality, in feeling good about my body, about orgasm, and about sex, and sharing that with my partner. Masturbating in front of him is so intimate that it’s a real letting go, a real-sense of freedom, and that makes it exciting. “First I talked about it with Mark, my husband. I was telling him how, uncomfortable I felt about doing it in front of him, even though he knew that I masturbated and I knew that he masturbated. It just was something that we had never shared with each other before. We talked about my fears. There were some more vestiges of all those negative messages about masturbation, how perverse it is, and how afraid I was of how awful I would look. I’d never seen how I looked when I masturbated. Then, one night after we’d had sex, I told him that I still felt a need to have more orgasms. I felt like I could have unlimited orgasms. In the past we would always rely on intercourse or, sometimes, on mutual masturbation, but this time I thought, ‘I’m going to try it; I’m going to try masturbating to orgasm in front of my partner.’ I didn’t say that in words; I just started, and he put his hand over my hand while I was masturbating myself, and I came. It was so exciting, it was such a thrill, that we just hugged each other. It was like we really made it that time. It was so freeing and liberating that we went on to make love again! That night I had five orgasms. That was the first time I had ever had five orgasms! I just thought my body was something super. I thought I could do anything with this body. I even walked differently. Getting over this thing about one-orgasm-is-enough was a big thing for me. You know, I had the idea that that’s enough pleasure — don’t have more, don’t give yourself too much. It was a big thing for me to get over that.”

A number of women talked about masturbating, either in front of their partner or at the same time as their partner, not only as a way to receive sufficient clitoral stimulation but also as a turn-on in its own right. They found that using masturbation as a tease heightened sexual feelings for both themselves and their partners.

Monique (engaged) confided:

“When we’re going out at night, sometimes I won’t wear any underwear and I’ll just wear this black, lacy garter belt, and in the car, on the way to a party, I’ll start masturbating myself, and my fiancé has to keep driving. I’ve made up the rules that he must keep driving and he can’t touch me. It makes me excited, and also it drives him crazy.”

Female Sexuality: EROTICA

Talking dirty sometimes took the form of telling pornographic stories as a way of building arousal. Or sometimes a woman would read pornography alone or with her partner as a way to warm up. In addition to reading pornography, many of the women we interviewed had seen a pornographic film at least one time in their lives. As therapists, we are well aware that seeing the right erotic movie can sometimes help turn on a couple that has been feeling asexual or sexually bored.

Loretta (single), who owned her own porno film, had a creative way of sharing that film with her lovers:

“Here’s how the evening usually goes: first I set the 8-millimeter projector up in my cozy bedroorn on a night table next to the bed. The shades are drawn, and a number of candles are lit and placed around the room. My honey and I have taken a shower together and smoked a little dope. We kiss and caress each other as we remove each other’s robe and get into bed. Then I start the film.

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

Leave a Reply