According to Jerry Portwood of the New York Press, "we're in the middle of a Renaissance of female masturbation scenes in independent films." He goes on to cite various scenes in some well-made works of cinematic enlightenment where the lead actress diddles herself, including Boarding Gate (Asia Argento), Mulholland Drive (Naomi Watts), Margot at the Wedding (Nicole Kidman!), Anatomy of Hell (Amira Cesar), Secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and 9 Songs (Margo Stilley). Actually, at least one of these films - Secretary (2002) with Maggie Gyllenhaal and James spader, has inspired an adult version: Adam & Eve's Perfect Secretary (2005) starring Carmen Luvana in her first anal. Even the two box covers of these films are starkly similar (pictured).
The last film listed, 9 Songs, which I will be renting promptly (thank you Netflix!), features actual penis-to-pussy penetration. Here is what Portwood says of the film:
It almost seems silly to include Michael Winterbottom’s quasi-porn. Sure, there’s good lighting, but all we get in this film is an American girl and horse hung Kieran O’Brien getting it on with full (real) penetration and plenty of other kinky bits. Oh, and it's interspliced with scenes from the two going to rock concerts. Don’t remember the self-pleasure? That’s cuz you were too busy freeze-framing her riding his stuff. Well, you can't beat good lighting when it comes to capturing sex on film. But is implied sex any better for the audience then actually treating us like adults and showing the real deal?
Yet somehow all those mentioned indie flicks are tame to what is undoubtedly the most famous female masturbation scene of all time. It's sacrilegious, it's visceral and certainly demonic. That's right, most of you have probably guessed I am referring to Linda Blair's famous possession in The Exorcist (1973), where she violently masturbates with a crucifix while spouting blasphemies. Though, there is nothing sexy or remotely realistic about this scene, it's not one you cannot easily forget.
The users at CinemaOrga, who coincidentally rated The Exorcist #1, have come up with an interesting list of female masturbation scenes that include most of the films already mentioned. Twenty of the top 21 female masturbation films are from the 2000's. Perhaps Mr. Portwood does have a point about the female self-pleasure film Renaissance that is taking place now. But if you want to watch women getting themselves off with all the juicy details, your best bet is a nice porno series such as Elegant Angel's All By Myself.
To be fair, there's also a history of male masturbation on the silver screen. Harvey Keitel masturbates to two young girls he pulls over in Bad Lieutenant (1992), a film about a nun who is raped and the police lieutenant assigned to the case, who seems beyond redemption. Then, who can forget Jason Biggs in American Pie (1999) as he fucks a warm, home-made apple pie for kicks. There's another funny masturbation scene in There's Something About Mary (2001) with Ben Stiller and the infamous 'hair gel' incident. When men masturbate, it's usually filmed in a comedic light and not in the sexual way that most female masturbation is filmed. Seeing that most directors are male, this comes as no surprise, nor do I really care either way -- admittedly, watching a guy wank off is not my cup of tea.