Make masturbation mainstream
Kenny Ong, 21, is an intern from New Jersey, USA. He studies nonfiction writing and philosophy, so he writes and thinks a lot...probably too much.
Kenny thinks we should talk about masturbation as much as we masturbate.
Let's be honest. Ignoring the talk of spiritual damnation and social alienation, we all masturbate-and it's awesome. But most of us will never admit it to anyone even though it's been scientifically proven that there's nothing wrong or unnatural about it. In fact, there are plenty of good things about wanking, like stress relief and helping you sleep. I would have no problem with a code of silence around it if only the silence wasn't filled with dense myths claiming masturbation causes blindness, hairy hands, infidelity, or whatever else that's horrible. How these myths ignore reality and our natural sexuality really rubs me the wrong way. And I think the only way to correct it is if everyone talks about masturbation more.
Like most parents, mine were puritanical fascists. They'd always want to know what I was doing, sometimes interrupting my most private introspection like they were the secret police of the secret handshake. Although they never caught me with my pants down, I had a feeling that they had a feeling. Sure enough, my dad said one fateful car ride home: "Don't masturbate or you'll go crazy." That's all. I was 13 years-old; and whether I believed him or not, his half-assed condemnation did some damage. Before, there was only the stress of hiding, but after that I couldn't help but feel my parents' disapproval tug at my conscience. I still felt ashamed years later when I dodged a naked woman's question about my masturbation habits.
Yeah, discussing self-pleasure can be pretty awkward at first, but the brief social chafing is worth the release from misconceptions. It's important that parents discuss masturbation with their kids at some point, because all kids have a lot of questions during puberty-and who better to answer those questions? Assuming they don't have any misunderstandings about masturbation themselves, parents are the most convincing source of information: loving, trustworthy, familiar. Some might have reservations about discussing sex and masturbation but they need to get over this and equip their kids to accept their developing sexuality.
With my parents teaching nil, I was left only with sex education lessons. However when I think back to my first class, it didn't mention masturbation at all which makes zero sense. They teach you 'the birds and the bees', why not what the birds and bees do to themselves? I bet those wings come in handy. The classroom could be a great place to discuss masturbation and find out that you aren't the lone wanker. But, just like parents, teachers and classmates don't seem happy to talk about it.
It's a vicious cycle: we don't talk about masturbation because we think it's embarrassing, the silence reinforces our shame, and so we keep not talking about it. The whole thing started back way when we mistakenly thought masturbation was somehow unhealthy - although it didn't stop us all still doing it. But now, despite knowing it's natural and healthy, we hold onto old-fashioned attitudes by not discussing it and admitting that we all enjoy getting wise with our selves. The only way to beat the cycle is to beat off and then talk about it!
I was lucky enough to experience firsthand the joys that open discussion about sex and self-sex can bring. Ironically it was in my Catholic secondary school where sex-ed was one session of theology class - but that was all it took. The teacher, a bearded old man, casually leaned back on the chalkboard and bluntly lectured us on g-spots, penis size, protection, and, most memorably, masturbation - FINALLY! Afterwards his lecture continued at the lunch table between my friends and me-albeit as a sarcastic contest over who could beat off the fastest - but still, at least we were discussing it.
I know wank jokes are crude and a bit immature, but it's much better than not talking about masturbation at all-especially considering the myths and misconceptions created by not talking. And American Pie-style jokes are just a midway to talking masturbation seriously, comfortably, and positively. Of course, a general comfort with the activity won't happen overnight. It'll happen over several billion conversations about masturbation.