- By William Hay
There is no psychiatric or medical disorder called ‘masturbation’.
It’s hard to believe that Kinsey’s and Masters and Johnson were revolutionaries less than 50 years ago. Havelock Ellis and Freud and others all the way forward to Foucault and more have studied the ‘taboo’ subject of sexuality. Freud talked about libido in children in the first years and female child psychiatrist, Melanie Klein, postulated even earlier libido development than her male counterparts saying it was present in the first months. What parent hasn’t seen their child touching themselves with apparent pleasure. Indeed it’s a common family concern especially if the minister is a frequent visitor.
Parents have brought their kids to me to help stop this “socially inappropriate behaviour”. I have bound hands in duct tape and gauze to allow genital healing in psychotic populations in asylums. Monkeys happily do it in full view seeming at times to even appreciate an audience. The Canadian parent and especially the easily offended teacher cannot stand such public display. Meanwhile the rock and roll idols of children continue to act like monkeys on MTV.
The origins of shame may well be found in the socialization of the normal self touching of children. But even daring researchers have rightfully feared too much ‘investigation’ in this nebulous world of the mother and child union or father child interaction. Much more is said about ‘toilet training’. We’re more ready, in Canadian culture, to talk about shit than sex.
A joke went that ‘they don’t believe in evolution in Kansas’, Answer, ‘WHY SHOULD THEY, IT HASN’T ARRIVED THERE YET.”
Part of the religious ‘social control’ has been the perverse interest of the church in the sexual behaviour of individuals, specifically, masturbation. Now that the old priests of religion are being replaced by the new lawyer priests sex is still very much in the public eye which takes perverse pleasure in ‘judging’ others while denying their own activities. Judges in adult ‘sexual trials’ to date are not ever required to study biology. The very moment that Prime Minister Troudeau said that the state had no business in what consenting adults did behind closed doors the courts jumped into the vacuum. The priests, ministers, imans and rabbis never left. And it’s a busy bedroom today.
It’s not just Christian Churches , though Origen’s cutting off his testicles to stop his masturbation was an extreme sacrifice worthy of eventual sainthood. Meanwhile his fellow saint and father of sexual reprobates was throwing himself into thorns to stop his sexual arousal, possibly one of the earliest references to ‘aversion therapy’.
The Hindus have much negative to say about masturbation as well.. Tantra discourages loss of sacred essence. Techniques are taught for climax without loss of semen. While these techniques are recommended for men it’s unclear if there are any such techniques for women. And the question obviously is why? Then there’s the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ of Chinese schools with their own sets of taboos and regulation.
Possibly as sexual self regulation is so difficult and once a sacred secret it is possible to externally implant a sense of failure in the best. The many exposures of the last 50 years certainly go to show that the foremost prudes and superiors in the church and state were themselves up to far more offensive behaviours than masturbation. Just as state officials and attourney generals and jail leaders in the secular realm are routinely exposed for sexual misbehaviour, so the church leadership has had it’s own notoriety. With all the soap opera bed hopping in high places it's no doubt modest masturbation remains officially frowned upon.
The biblical key for Christians, Moslems and Jews is the the phrase ‘spilled his seed on the ground.” I once explored the bible for references that would support the perverse interest of oftimes supposedly celibate clergy in sexuality expecting to find all manner of reference to hairy palms and people struck dead. Certainly the allegory of Adam and Eve can be interpreted as more sexual than relating to disobedience but without where would redemption be?
The only clear reference to masturbation turns out to be this ‘spilt his seed on the ground’ passage. In that passage Onan who is, because of the law of levy, supposed to impregnate his dead brother’s wife instead commits ‘coitus interruptus’ (not even masturbation) to stop his brother’s wife from being pregnant. He thereby greedily keeps all the inheritance for himself and his children. Nonetheless masturbation has been known ever since as the sin of Onanism. The church ever cherry picking in matters of sexuality fails to find fault today with all those men who might gladly impregnate their attractive in laws, but do not. Instead it continues to bemoan masturbation.
The partial explanation for the censorship of masturbation was that reproduction was desired by church and state. The ‘army of Christ’ was no different from the early days when political decisions of all nations were decided by how many warriors could be mobilized. This reflected the power of each tribes maternal factory. Masturbation clearly would be discouraged as not adding souls or warriors or workers to the greater good. Communal living in general discouraged individual pleasure especially in times where tribal existence depended on collective endeavours and consensus arrangements. Individualism was a luxury of the aristocracy to a degree but only really came into it’s own in present postmodern times.
Which might explain the present day rage for masturbation. The evidence of this is simply reflected in the extent of the pornography industry, the rise of ‘sexual addiction’ as a diagnosis, compulsive masturbations showing up clinically as a concern and many other indicators that suggest that masturbation is probably more prevalent today in adults and especially for women than perhaps at any previous time (Victorian times excluded). This may simply reflect the rise in ‘leisure time’, the privacy of ‘space of my own’ and certainly in the present day and age masturbation for men and women is a form of ‘safe sex’ when the church ‘taboos’ and ‘state taboos’ have been taken over by the ‘medical taboos’. What was once ‘evil’ is now properly called ‘unsafe’. But masturbation isn’t really just ‘unsafe’. In an abortion/divorce culture children are considered a ‘liability’ and ‘expense’ with hugely delayed smaller families and the reproductive “work” of western societies literally outsourced to the fertile reproductive third world mothers.
Is masturbation safe? Is it healthy? Is it good? Should it be made legal? Should it be taxed? Is simple and sweet somehow ‘better’ than ornate and involved. Should one ‘date’ oneself or just wham bang thank you mam have sexual release masturbation?.
Can we talk about it? Compare notes?
Increasingly conversation about sex even with a doctor is viewed as ‘sexual abuse’ by the prevailing new ‘politically correct’ bullies profiting by the vacuum in sexual control lost or forfeited by church and state. The consequences of these commonly self appointed perverse watch dogs is that a new ‘inquisition’ is becoming the norm and masturbation with all forms of sexuality except and sometimes even missionary position are being relegated to the closet. Given how busy the bedroom became the closet is perhaps the only place of privacy left.
Ironically the secular world has become bizarrely coupled with everyone as a rapist sloganeering and women especially as fragile little girls best considered victims in the making while at the same time men and women are making windfalls in the porn industry which caters to the masturbatory singles of the post modern society. At the same time modern pornography not only sells in high volume to a male audience but also to couples and to single women and of course the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender populations. It appears everyone is masturbating by the sales. Alternatively people could be watching pornography for it's critical merit.
Sexuality and the western culture of sexuality is further counter to the medieval leanings of the religious terrorists who would quite gladly return us all to the closet despite their excessive fetishism for young girl virgins and polygamy.
Further women who were once largely ‘ignorant’ are now highly informed through internet and television and sex research. June Kaplan Singer showed the rise in female masturbations a decade a go could well be predicted to match men at some level. In addition, women in this society can have sex on demand because they are commonly ‘in control’ of the reproductive apparatus and initially ‘control’ the sexual access of couplehood and marriage. Cost however remains controversial and risk or lack of attractive choices might well make masturbation more appealing. Certainly celebrities and female singers have by their behaviour demonstrated all manner of masturbatory practice and all manner of educational material pro masturbation is probably more widely distributed today than the ‘anti masturbatory’ literature of yesterday.
Meanwhile Pope Paul II not one for speaking to masturbation did however celebrate the sex of marriage raising it to sacramental status and implying though not recommending that one might miss mass if the husband and wife did have sex though it would still be a sin to miss mass and go golfing The liberalization of the church was counterpoised to the perversion of the secular ‘politically correct’ world which disdainedtalking about sex almost as much as prayer. Both God and sexual discussion were banned while one leaders after another was caught involved in the outrageous hanky panky. Clearly the ‘lady protesteth too much’.
At the most ironic I had caring single mothers coming into my practice asking me how they should teach their sons how to masturbate. The sons had shown no interest, to say the least. Sons and daughters meanwhile have often told me of parents wanting to teach them about masturbation rather late in the scheme of things. A pregnant teen ager told me her well meaning single father had tried to tell her about the birds and the bees when she felt it timely to tell him she was already pregnant.
Several legal forms for just dating have been developed and widely distributed. Those who are not masturbating might well be waiting for a legal consent form. What is wholly surprising is that there is as yet no license required for masturbation within city limits.
The whole question of toys entered the discussion as many women have difficulty achieving orgasm in intercourse and dildos and vibrators brought them out of the desert into the pleasure of reproducible orgasmic experience. Modern dildos have their counterparts in ancient phallic pieces. It is probably good advice not to touch some museum artifacts considering where they might have last been.
Couples have taken to mutual masturbation and young people might openly masturbate rather than have intercourse which seems still so ‘brave’ to an older generation that loves candlelight, groping and quickies. The idea of foreplay requires the reduction in the guilt and shame departments that is not common in the older generations. Yet the young in part responding to the potential threat of stds has brought a new elegance to the old fumbled exercises of steamy gas guzzling college cars.
Along with all of this there is a new ‘virginity’ with young men and women waiting for marriage at a later age but wanting more of the traditional values, with or without masturbation.
For any parent who wants to talk to their children about sexuality they had better be quick about it because all evidence suggests that children are more informed and sexually active at a far earlier age. This may be as much to do with food additives as television but it remains a fact.
Finally whether we like it or not masturbation is likely to remain with us for sometime despite computers, Velcro and terrorism. It may well be one of the causes of global warming. Whether seen as acne or chocolate it is a fact of human existence. Of course we don’t need to talk about it. Apparently it doesn’t exist in Kansas either.