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Cory Silverberg

Celebrating National Masturbation Month

By May 4, 2011

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The world may be a big place. And humans may be amazingly diverse, in interests, values, dreams, and actions. But the truth is that the world most of us live in is pretty small. Think about who your friends are. Think about how much of the city or town you live in you actually spend time in. Think about how many of the people you keep closest to you agree with you on basic things like human rights, what's important in the world, and what makes a good life, a life worth living. Some of us work hard to surround ourselves with lots of difference, but for most of us it's too hard and the payoff isn't clear (although believe me, it's there).

Take masturbation. Chances are, most people you know feel more or less the same way you do about masturbation. You may never have talked to other people about it, but whether you think it's sinful or heavenly, second class sex or the a window to your sexual soul, something people should do or just something people have to do, your immediate circle of friends probably feel the same way.

Some people call this the bubble effect. We live in a small world and surround ourselves with people who share our values and beliefs and as such we can come to forget that there are plenty of other people out there who don't. And when we do remember, we think about them as the weird ones. Sex educators, the good ones anyway, work hard to remember this effect. But with something like masturbation, which has been so normalized in sexual health circles, it can be hard to remember that there are so many people who are uncomfortable with the topic, let alone the sexual activity.

I don't believe everyone should masturbate. I was talking to a colleague the other day, a psychologist, who sees a lot of clients who are strict observers of religious practice. She was telling me about the way she struggles with clients who are single, extremely sexually frustrated, but cannot masturbate because they believe it to be wrong. Because she's an excellent sex therapist, one who doesn't condescend to her clients, she is very clear that her job is not to convince them that masturbation is okay and they should do it (although she does share that information with them in order to clarify any confusion they have about the mental or physical effects of masturbation). She is there to support them in doing the work they need and want to do. Which in that case is having the conversation about masturbation which they can't have with anyone else. The result may not be fully satisfying, but in the context of this person's life, a conversation about masturbation is both therapeutic and maybe even a little revelatory (since there was no lighting strike immediately after the conversation).

Masturbation is something I don't ever tire of talking about. But I do sometimes get tired of saying we should talk more about it. And I have in the past thought that the naming of May as National Masturbation Month, which began in 1995, may be a bit played.

It's not clear to me if anyone is running a masturbate-a-thon this year, I'll do some digging and get back to you. But I think that the month still has a purpose. If you live in the West it's hard not to be consumed by the sexual messaging all around us. And talking about masturbation may seem boring. Except we still don't do it very much. It isn't talked about in a lot of sex education and despite being hands down the most commonly practiced sexual activity, most of us still insist on comparing it to other kinds of sex, instead of celebrating it for the things it can give us (if we want it).

So I'll be celebrating National Masturbation Month this May by writing a little bit more about masturbation than usual, hopefully offering some suggestions for conversation starters, since I think the second best way to celebrate Masturbation Month is to talk about masturbation with someone you care about. I also wouldn't be a good educator if I didn't engage in some needed self-care, which is, for me anyway, the best way to celebrate the month. I hope whatever your relationship is to masturbation, you'll celebrate along with me. Just don't send pictures. It's a boundary thing.

Previously - Masturbate-a-Thon 2010 Dates Announced ; How America Masturbates ; Masturbate-a-Thon 2009 Results Are In ; Another Reason to Love May

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Comments
May 4, 2011 at 9:26 am
(1) Vallin says:

“Sex with someone I love” -Woody Allen

And how about Male Multiple/Extended Orgasm Technique (Mantak Chia for one, and numerous websites), and Mental Orgasms! I am a Zen Master-bater!

Yeah…I need a national month as an excuse: HA-HA!

May 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm
(2) Dick of Dick-n-Jane.com says:

“hands down the most commonly practiced sexual activity”… good one Cory! ;o)

I agree with you about the bubble effect, it’s very easy to not recognize your own bubble… until you step out of it. Jane and I stepped out of a bubble of masturbatory shame some years ago and now have a much better perspective on where we were.

Like you, we also write more about masturbation during May. Though I think our boundaries must be different!

Thanks for the great article Cory!

May 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm
(3) Paul says:

Finally . .. let’s get this out of the closet ! It’s normal behavior, has been for hundreds if not thousands of years !

And I strongly hope that we can find ways to with our life’s partners to share mutual masturbation . . . one of my biggest fantasies ! ! So far she won’t. . . . It would another great dimension in a 30+ yr marriage !

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