Archive for May 18th, 2011

18
May


How taboo is talk about masturbation? When Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders suggested that we consider teaching it as a way of reducing HIV transmission, they ran her out of Washington faster than the mayor who was caught on video smoking crack.

In fact, that mayor got re-elected after he got out of prison, whereas Dr. Elders has fewer conference invitations than Pee Wee Herman. But she had a point — there are many benefits to learning to masturbate better.

But not many Americans are open to it. We still cling to the mindset of Swiss doctor S.A.D. Tissot’s 1741 book Onanism, or a Treatise on the Disorders of Masturbation, which suggested that practitioners could go blind. In the 1800s, both the graham cracker and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were invented to keep young men from taking themselves in hand.

Silly, huh? But little has changed.

In 1993, the Janus Report on Sexual Behavior revealed that just 13 percent of American Protestants think masturbation is a natural part of adult life. The Sex in America survey the following year showed that half of all Americans who masturbate feel guilty about it.

And Joani Blank, founder of sexual goods shop Good Vibrations, told of an electronics manufacturer that stopped selling its vibrators to a store in Austin, Tex. when it learned they were being sold as sexual aids. So much for centuries of enlightenment.

If you need to be convinced not to feel guilty, consider this — masturbation has bona fide health benefits. Orgasms have been reported to increase circulation, improve skin tone, strengthen the immune system, release tension and promote psychological well being in both men and women. For women, masturbating can help ease some of the symptoms of menopause, such as vaginal dryness and lost muscle.

“It improves self-esteem, because if you can give yourself pleasure, that comes along with feeling you deserve pleasure,” Blank said. “It also improves your sex with a partner because you know more about your own response. It’s a great way to relax at bedtime, and a great waker-upper.”

You may be saying, “I think I know how to do that just fine, thank you.” Maybe. But both men and women can use masturbation as a form of lifelong learning. For men, masturbation is a great way to teach yourself to have multiple orgasms.

For many women, masturbation is the most likely, if not the only, way to reach orgasm. Some women are lucky, but most have to learn to have orgasms just like you learn to ride a bicycle.

A vibrator is essential equipment for this particular course, but many women are timid about going into a shop to buy one. Fortunately, nowadays you can buy one online without any shopkeepers leering at you.

Blank said the most popular vibrator at her store is, ironically, one that isn’t made for masturbation: the Hitachi Magic Wand, designed for body massage.

“It’s good and big and strong and it’s good for massage as well as sex. It has a good wide head. It plugs into the wall instead of using batteries.”

But a vibrator choice is — dare we say it? — intensely personal. You might prefer a waterproof one for the tub, or a compact clitoral-only version. The point is to just order one and find out.

And whatever you do, don’t feel guilty. You work out and eat right to keep your body in shape; you follow your stock portfolio to keep your finances in shape. Masturbating regularly keeps your sexual response systems in shape. And I don’t know about you, but I find it a lot more satisfying lately than following my stock portfolio.

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