The prohibition of masturbation for both men and women
Halachic Responsa from Rabbi Moshe Ariel HaCohen Roth, Head of the Beit Midrash “Bet Menachem”, Ben Gurion University in the Negev. (Translated by “Micha” from the Hebrew at this link: http://forum.bgu.co.il/index.php?showtopic=71994)
C. Masturbation for women
Most of the rabbis and Jewish Sages that addressed the issue of “masturbation” didn’t address the issue of “masturbation for women”, mostly due to different natures of men and women. But contemporary poskim and rabbis have been asked about this, so after studying the issue, I will present here my conclusions:
1. According the great posek “Ben Ish Chai” in his books “Ben Ish Chai Halachot” and “Od Yossef Chay Halachot” - based on the words of the Ari HaKadosh in his book “Sha’ar HaKavanot” - the prohibition for women is the same as that for men, the defect/flaw created by her is similar to the defect generated by him. Further on I will quote his words.
2. The famous Posek HaGaon Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - in his responsum “Igros Moshe” - also prohibits it, from miscellaneous halachic angles. In his view though, the women’s prohibition is part of additional reasons in the men's prohibition, not from the main reasons that the poskim brought for the men's issue. Further on I will quote his words.
3. Even the rest of poskim that didn’t find a “proper” halachic source to forbid masturbation for women and believe that they don’t have the prohibition (like men) of “spilling seed needlessly” for the following reasons:
A. There is no intentional destruction of seed from the woman’s part, but it’s a natural process that doesn’t depend on her will;
B. They believe that the prohibition of Zera Levatala only applies to men, because they have the commandment of procreation, but women don’t have this commandment, so they don’t have this prohibition. (Birkei Yossef Yore Deah 335:5)
In spite of that, they also opine that women shouldn’t do these behaviors, to purify and keep holy our minds, souls and spirits before the Almighty G-d.
Quotations and sources - regarding masturbation to women
1. Ben Ish Chay Halachot, Shanah Rishona, Parashat Pekudei:
“In the Kerias Shema Sheal HaMitah (recited before sleeping) [one have to] concentrate to fix the sin of Keri and Zera Levatala, which have flown purposely or unintentionally, so the impure bodies that “seize” the Neshamot (from the semen) will die, and the pure Neshamot will take them (the Neshamot from the wasted semen) back to their holy place. And they (the Neshamot) will come down to this world like any other holy Neshama (in newborn baby)... and this Kerias Shema will also benefit a woman, because the seed that leaks from her due to the intense [erotic] desire that she feels. For regarding that is written (Psalms 91:10): ונגע לא יקרב באהלך, זו אשתך - שנקראת אהל (“and no disease will touch your tent” - that’s your wife who’s called “tent”), and see Sha’ar HaKavanot.”
2. Od Yossef Chay Halachot:
“And regarding the second question concerning Keria Shema Sheal HaMitah, of course women also are obliged to say it, and they are also applicable to the fixing made by males for the drops of semen, to erase the Mazikim (bad spirits) that are created by them (semen drops), as it is written in the Sha’ar HaKavanot that our master (Arizal) wrote, and these are his words:
“Be aware that exactly the same way that the Mazikim are created by a man who spills semen needlessly, without a woman; in the same way, a female creates Mazikim without a man (when she masturbates)...”. (See the quoted Sha’ar HaKavanot entirely in this link)
3. An Halachic responsa from the HaGaon HaPossek Rabbi Moshe Feinstein - “Igros Moshe, Even HaEzer tome 1, 69:
“We find two prohibitions in fantasizing (seeing a woman and thinking about her):
The first one is from the Passuk “ונשמרת מכל דבר רע” (“And you shall keep yourself from every evil thing”). In the Gemara Ketubot 46a we learn from this: “Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair said that a person should not have [impure] thoughts in his heart, and thus bring himself to have impurity at night”,and this prohibition applies also to thoughts about a woman that is permitted for him (i.g. single). This prohibition includes: the prohibition of staring at a Niddah (woman during her menstruation cycle), and at a married woman even if she’s ugly, at animals copulating. That’s because we are afraid that the thoughts will cause him to masturbate.
And the second one is from the Passuk “ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם”-“so that you do not follow [after] your heart[s] and [after your] eyes [in your lustful urge]”. In the Gemara (Brachos 12) we learned - “after your eyes” - “means lustful imagination” - here the prohibition isn’t to prevent from Zera Levatala, but the thought of sexual sin is itself is forbidden, exactly as the prohibition of imagining Avodah Zara (idolatry), that the thought of doing it is a prohibition itself, as it is written “after your heart”, the same way the Torah prohibited thinking about sexual sinning.
The following difference between the two sins emerges: The first thought prohibition, which we learn from “ונשמרת מכל דבר רע” and it’s reason is the consequence of the thoughts, which cause him to masturbate - this prohibition doesn’t apply to women, since even “touching” doesn’t arouse them, certainly “imagination” alone doesn’t cause anything. But the second prohibition - which is learned from “after your eyes” - meaning lustful fantasies” - here the prohibition isn’t to prevent from Zera Levatala, but rather the thought of doing sexual sins, as the Torah forbids “thinking about worshiping idols”, this prohibition applies also to women.
And there is an additional prohibition regarding women: the prohibition of a woman engaging in lustful/sensual behaviors due to “Das Yehudis” (Jewish Practice), as it is explained in Ketubot 72a. (See here, in the Mishna.)
Due to both these prohibitions, it is likely to forbid women to masturbate, due to the lustful behavior itself, and also lest she come to thoughts of sexual sins.